ZOMBIES DO NOT REPORT to work. Human as we are, our cultural dissimilarities, inherent biases (and we remain blind to most of them !) and our personal agendas, not to speak of our own levels of understanding – all of these contribute to different points of view at the workplace. Yet decisions have to be made and actions are required to be taken for an enterprise to run efficiently. This cannot happen without the reconciliation of differences, be it by force or by consensus.
IT IS INDEED A “NO BRAINER” IF previously set policies and procedures provide answers to a given situation on hand. An enterprise however is a living organism and all participants in the decision making process at various levels, whether one likes it or not, have to deal with disagreements day in and day out and many situations are themselves ambiguous with no clear answers.
THE FIRST RULE IS TO RECOGNIZE the simple fact that everyone has a right to his or her point of view. It therefore naturally follows that one has to listen to and understand what that view is all about. The calm and uninterrupted discharge of this obligation per se removes much of the difficulties associated with the reconciliation of differences. Sometimes, listening is all – the solution may emerge by exhausting this very process.
IT BECOMES DIFFICULT HOWEVER if differing points of view have each convincing arguments that justify a decision either way. The natural tendency for the dominant party is to assert his authority. If peers are at play here, the boss has to intervene and if he is hard of hearing or takes on board only the arguments he likes to hear, God alone can help such an enterprise – unless the agenda of the boss is one with that of the enterprise.
DEALING WITH AN OPPOSITE POINT OF VIEW becomes fun when some elements of the differing view are capable of integration into one’s own – this enhances the quality of the decision made and avoids the parties from slipping into despair. For this to happen one must be humble enough to recognize that good ideas can emanate from any quarter. We need only to have the willingness to find them by keeping our eyes and ears open.
IF WE HAVE DONE OUR HOMEWORK well, we ought to know how to sell our ideas too – ultimately it is the quality of our argument that matters, not the decibel level at which it is presented. Well meaning arguments ought to generate light rather than heat. When differing points of view are tabled, reconciliation becomes difficult if the arguments on both sides are themselves half-baked. Much of the disappointments arise when parties do not care to do their homework and understand issues thoroughly. At times we keep arguing endlessly oblivious to the core issue that is involved.
THE NOBEL PRIZE FOR WINNING ARGUMENTS however goes to the person who makes his audience feel that they have taken the decision – not him. If one thinks “win-win” and is not particularly bothered about who takes credit, one can pretty much get a lot of things done exactly the way one wants. We have to “THINK RESULTS” and get rid of our enthusiasm in proving others wrong.