Don’t you wish that every decision was easy to make? Never leaving a situation worried about “if” or “maybe” or the absolute worst rabbit hole: the “woulda, coulda, shoulda”? Imagine leaving situations with a peaceful confidence in your decision making based on five easy steps of consideration, respect and graciousness. Regardless of scale, applying these time-honored principles never fails.
1. Apply consideration.
The first step is to pause to consider every person involved. Look at any situation and figure out who is involved and how they are impacted, either directly or indirectly. Now consider their perspective of the situation. This may take a little time — it should — as we must consider our own bias and ego in the situation.
It does not mean we are agreeing or disagreeing with others involved. It simply means we are aware of the situation and the potential impacts.
2. Develop solutions.
Throw everything at it. Brainstorm more than one solution. Think about all the possibilities, most importantly the bad choices. Clarity around solutions keeps you on track for the right decision. Discuss the solutions with someone who will ask the questions you haven’t considered.
The solutions can be ridiculous and/or totally practical. Use the domino approach by taking a solution and knocking down the first domino. See which domino it hits next and follow them to find where they might get stuck. Knock the dominoes from other perspectives. Don’t worry about what is right. Continue asking yourself, “What happens if I do this?”
3. Show respect.
Examine each solution and ask yourself if that solution really is the best solution for everyone involved, not just you. Show respect to the impact the decision is making on others. This is a great time to also focus on the resources needed for each solution.
4. Apply graciousness.
Use graciousness to find which solution makes the most sense to resolve the situation while building relationships. The best solution won’t necessarily be the solution that is best for you, but it may be best for everyone involved, and therefore is the right solution.
5. Refine the response.
Refine the response if necessary. Approach and delivery are the cornerstones for communication.
Sometimes the final solution isn’t quite right, but small adjustments of consideration, respect and graciousness will strengthen the relationship every time.
Confidence is the key benefit of etiquette. We practice these behaviors to make them a habit so that when we suddenly find ourselves in a situation, we can confidently make a good choice that builds relationships instead of hesitating or making a mistake that leads to embarrassment.
Having built her career in higher education as both faculty and administrator, Dr. Veronica Guinn has recently returned to her passion of teaching in the classroom at Arkansas State University. She teaches courses focused on leadership development and critical thinking for the Nontraditional Studies Department in A-State's University College, and is currently working toward her business etiquette certification through the Emily Post Institute.