Don’t Make Decisions for Me Without Consulting Me

by Rebecca Morgan, CSP, CMC on September 20, 2018

It happens at work:

“She won’t want to be on the committee. She’s too busy.”
“He wouldn’t like this new project. He likes what he’s doing now.”
“He has a family at home so won’t want to take the trip to visit the new customer.”
“She doesn’t like public speaking so we shouldn’t ask her to speak at the conference.”

It happens in one’s personal life:

“He won’t want to accompany me to the class/concert/play.”
“She’s fussy about eating so we she won’t want to join us to try the new restaurant.”
“He’s not a big outdoors buff so we shouldn’t bother inviting him to join our hike.”
“She doesn’t like crowds so we won’t ask her to come to the parade.”

While we think we are doing the person a favor by not involving him/her in our plans, we are making a decision for her without consulting her. We think we know her well enough to know what she would like.

However, he might have changed his mind about what you think he wouldn’t like. Or he might have decided it is time to try that activity again. Or she may have had an awakening that has motivated her to stretch her concepts of what she likes and doesn’t like.

So while you think you are being thoughtful, you’re actually not. It is more thoughtful to involve the person and let her make the decision for herself. That is the most thoughtful act.

She may say, “You’re right. I don’t like skiing. But I do like relaxing in front of the fire with a good book in the lodge while the snow is falling. So I”ll come with you to the mountains, and enjoy myself in the lodge while you ski. I’ll then whip up a delicious meal for us to enjoy when you’re done on the slopes.” If you had not asked her to come on the trip, you would have missed out on her company and would have prevented her from having an enjoyable outing.

At work, when you decide someone would not like a new assignment, you are preventing him from taking on a new task to stretch his skills and experience. Just because he’s declined in the past doesn’t mean he’ll say no this time. People change.

So don’t assume you know the response this time. Allow the person to determine their response now. It doesn’t mean if they say yes they will do the same in the future.

When someone has previously declined an invitation, I’ll ask like this, “I know in the past you’ve said you aren’t interested in traveling because of your family obligations. I don’t want to assume that is still the case, so wanted to give you the opportunity to decide about this upcoming trip. If you say no, that is fine, I’ll just keep asking you each time and let you make the decision.”

This is much more respectful than making the decision for the person based on their past preferences. Wouldn’t you appreciate being asked and allowed to make a decision on what’s best for you now, not what you decided in the past?

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