Do you get frustrated when you can’t get a decision made? Or, maybe the problem is that you can’t get the right decision done. Or, maybe it’s just not happening fast enough.

Consider whether your energy is pushing energy. And if so…

  • Is the other person pushing energy back at you?
  • Or, is he absorbing your energy?
  • Or, is there a wall deflecting your energy?

In any case,  you are in a challenging pattern. The frustration feeling likely comes from two places:

  1. Not getting what you want and
  2. The energy used to keep pushing.

If you weren’t pushing, could you pull the decision through?

Step back and take a deep breath. The fundamental reason you don’t have the decision is that you don’t have the power to decide. Even if you think you do or should, you don’t.
So you have to make a shift. I’m suggesting a shift from pushing to pulling. Imagine yourself in two actions:
  1. How would you feel and think if you were to push someone into a swimming pool or off a cliff (OK, you’re probably not going to do either)?
  2. How would you feel and think if you were pulling someone up from a ravine or ditch?
Very different feeling and thinking. Interesting…if you are like me, you can see yourself pulling someone up more than pushing. yet, when I can’t get the decision done, I tend to push. So the first clue is: check and shift your thinking and feeling.

A Not-So-Simple Case

Let’s say you have a key stakeholder who is very powerful. He has both positional power to veto a decision and a lot of tough personal power with the folks who contribute to the decision.
You have accountability to deliver the decision to your boss, organization, etc. But you can’t make him do anything (I know this is generic, but isn’t it so real?).
You’ve presented your logical case. You’ve shopped the decision around and gotten mostly head-nods. But, each time you push for a decision, you come up with “no.”
STOP! Stop what you are doing. Shift how you are thinking. And, take another path.

Three Steps to Influencing

There are three steps to shifting your approach.

  1. Get clear about your intended outcome. I know you want that decision, but why? Get underneath the surface reason. What is the underlying interest or interests that you have? When you get to a neutral set that are not about you or your organization, you may have something useful. Which interest could be “shared?”

    In the case above, the shared interest was the result’s impact on the “tough guy” not how it delivered to the business.

  2. Examine the dynamics. Lay out what happens in these meetings, what gets said by whom and in what order. Download what you know about the key people, not just the nay-sayer.

    In the case above, when considering past actions, the person nearly always took an adversarial position to any big action. If you didn’t push, he’d push you first. Try absorbing his push without a push-back. Or, if you’re not pushy naturally, asks questions with interest that help dissolve the concerns (I know, it doesn’t sound so easy-it’s not).

  3. Create alternative pathways. You will have more agility in the dialogue and “play” if you create alternative ways to approach the person and decision. Lay them out, think about other influencers-put them into play. What different sequences of action might get the result you are seeking?

    In the case above, aligning with him might be a strategy. Agreeing with his views might be a tactics (be authentic!). A second strategy might be to influence his influencers. Enlisting another “power” to weigh in behind the scenes might be a tactic.

If your step-back gets you into a thinking mode and out of frustration, you are on your way to greater success.  What current situation or decision warrants a shift in your approach? How can you pull the decision through to your intended outcome?