DRMacIver's Notebook

Be the more decisive person

Be the more decisive person

Let me tell you an amazing favour you can do for your friends: Be the one to make decisions when nobody else is willing to step up. Especially unimportant ones.

I learned this skill the hard way. Getting a bunch of indecisive socially awkward nerds to decide where to go for a meal is worse than herding cats, because it's watching cats try to self organise, so at some point I just started saying "Hey, why don't we go to $RESTAURANT. Any objections?" and observing how much easier the whole process became once I started doing that. Nobody minds you doing this, everyone is grateful, and a long annoying pointless dither is averted.

People don't want to be the one to make a decision for any number of reasons, but it's mostly anxiety, and they're mostly offloading anxiety onto everyone else. You can stop the cycle of anxiety through the simple realisation that 90% of the decisions that are causing this just don't matter that much. It doesn't matter that much where you go for a meal.

If you want to help people this way, go read how to make decisions so that this is low cost for you, and then start making suggestions like this once it's clear you're stuck in an indecision loop that nobody involved wants to break out of.

Remember that the decision you're making is a first pass. People can object to it, and that's fine. The system is working. This is a fastest way to learn something is to do something situation. By making a suggestion (doing something) you are learning about people's constraints, which you can then feed back in by making another suggestion, or by asking that person to make some more concrete suggestions.

For more important decisions you need to start looking into serious facilitation skills and techniques for running meetings and such, but that's a different problem. For now, just help people break out of indecision on the simple stuff.