We all go about things in our own way, right? We’re all individuals expressing ourselves uniquely, and the way we act or react depends greatly on our individual personalities and internal processes and methods.

Most of the time, let’s say even the vast majority of the time, like 99% of the time, our own way works just fine for us. We get through life—how we interact with others, how we make decisions, how we respond to our social environments—just famously.

However, something important must be acknowledged: If I work in my own way, that means everybody else works in their own way as well! And I simply can’t get through life without other people. Check out a previous blog, Other People, for an in-depth discussion of this blatantly obvious fact.

I’ve discussed interacting with others for benefit in previous blogs. Now I am turning to Deciding and Achieving. What THEE illustrates is that, in general, there are seven basic methods for deciding and achieving. Let’s take a look at the dialectic, from the inside and out.

 Inside the Dialectic

All progress is conflict management. Truth, facts, and what is good and right are completely relative and subject to the interests of involved parties. 

The best decision is always a compromise. People simply never agree on a course of action in an organization, particularly if it is perceived as disadvantaging their department of profession. 

 That being the case, the only way to proceed is to determine how opposing individuals or groups feel, what they think is right, assess their recommendations, and find a middle road that gives everyone a payoff. 

For people to be productive, they need to feel that their concerns and ideas are heard, that the values of their group are being upheld. If a tyrant who always knows best and imposes their will on the underlings runs an organization, people don’t cooperate, don’t give their best, and might simply just check-out altogether. No one wants to just receive their orders and do what they’re told. 

That’s why we’ve got to listen, respond, and find a way for everyone to feel like they’re getting something out of a deal. 

Who is this? 

If this sounds like you, you might be a dialectic decider and achiever.

You are a natural mediator or negotiator or arbitrator or debater, or representative and quick to lend an ear. People in competing groups trust you with their concerns and expect you to do something about it. You might be the glue that keeps an organization or project from falling apart as a result of infighting and disagreement. You’re the built-in release valve when pressures start to mount.

You walk that precarious line between disagreeing parties and groups and sometimes you run the risk of those in competing groups seeing you as either a ringleader or a tough shell to crack.

You might make a great lawyer or human resources director, whose job it is to listen, pacify, and find an agreeable solution.

Outside of the Dialectic 

 If you’re reading this and is somehow seems disagreeable, confusing, or ridiculous, you’re probably not a dialectic decider and achiever.

In all likelihood, you’re not, as the dialectic is but one of the 7 methods for deciding and achieving.

If you aren’t a dialectic type of decision-maker, well you handle decisions in some other way that you are convinced is generally best. And how you view this preoccupation with problems, facts and best solutions will be dependent on that.

For example:

  • An empiricist might think of the dialectic: “Relative!? Hardly. The truth is out there regardless of anyone’s opinion or feelings.” 
  • A systemicist might think something along the lines of: “You’re close, but there are many more factors involved in the proper approach than simply two parties opinions and feelings, such as social and cultural conditions, beliefs, and values, economics, the evolution of an organization, etc.” 
  • A structuralist might say: “People need to fulfill their duties as assigned and follow company policies and procedures. Any win for some faction is bad for the organization.” 
It might do us all some good to use the dialectic approach from time to time. People do frequently disagree based on the values inherent in their discipline: the very values that led to their employment or participation in the first place. And disagreements can cause organizations and projects to lock up or completely disintegrate. Sometimes, a compromise really is the only way to move forward.

That why, if this isn’t you, it’s still good to understand the dialectic. Maybe one day you’ll find yourself, individually or within a group, locked in conflict with another individual or group and somebody will have to come in and sort it all out.

 That wraps up our discussion of the seven individual approaches for deciding and achieving. Come back to the blog next week for a bit of decompression and a discussion of what it all means for you and society at large.

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