Are you someone who sizes something up very quickly and acts
immediately? Or perhaps someone who needs to see every possible facet of
a situation, so you can slowly and thoughtfully make a decision on how
In general, both of these methods have their advantages and
disadvantages. They both constitute ‘styles’ of handling things. If they
work well for you – then there is little need to be worried.
However, there are a few ways that decision making can be troublesome
for people. These other ‘styles’ of responding to situations can
sometimes lead to unintended consequences.
One way this might occur is when someone feels such a lack of
confidence; they are unable actively to decide to choose a response
unless someone else has confirmed their choice. I do not speak of
situations where someone else’s okay is necessary (for example at work,
or on committees) but a true shakiness in believing in their own wisdom.
They might feel what they decide is not good enough, or that it will be
“wrong” and they will suffer embarrassment.
Another less effective style of responding could more accurately be
called “reacting.” Unlike the person who quickly assesses things and
makes a confident decision based on solid experience, this person could
be said to be caught in an emotional place that propels them forward
(often impulsively) to decide to do things they might otherwise not have
chosen with a little more actual thought and foresight.
Yet another “style” of responding to situations is to “keep your
bases covered.” That is, to passively respond to something, while still
making sure that there is at least one “escape clause” (usually to
escape any possible blame.) This is sometimes referred to as the
“passive-aggressive” stance. Basically, it is an attempt to avoid
anyone’s questioning the respondent’s actions.
There are other “styles” of course, but by now you can see that some
work more effectively than others. Psychotherapy can be very helpful for
people who have found themselves reacting to situations in ways that do
not, in the long run, prove helpful for them. Sometimes people don’t
quickly notice their own contribution to undesired outcomes. But, if one
is very honest, one can often see that being too frightened, emotional,
impulsive or unwilling fully to accept responsibility for decisions can
get in the way of effective communication or problem solving.
If you are having difficulty of this sort, you may want to consider
making an appointment with a psychotherapist to work on the underlying
factors that might have you unable to communicate effectively with
others. Sometimes an individual might feel “stuck” in this effort – but
often there is also a “family style” of making ineffective decisions
that might also need to be looked at for the well-being of everyone.
Making life choices that lead to positive goals can improve self-esteem,
confidence and usually interpersonal relationships.
Copyright Kathi Whitten 2008