One question I get a lot on blog tours is, “What’s your writing process?” I’m always a bit surprised by it, because my writing process has no relevance to anybody else’s. I get up in the morning and write. Last thing before I go to bed at night, I read over what I wrote that morning, pray for more words, and go to sleep.
In contexts other than writing, particularly decision-making situations, I care about process a very great deal, sometimes more than I care about the results of that process. Small children understand that if Mom or Dad will at least LISTEN to their concerns and wishes, really, truly, listen, then whatever decision the parent makes will feel more of that illusive quality of “fairness.”
When overworked judges are trying to find funding to set up mediation services in their courthouses, the judges point to the fact that when people participate in making a decision, they’re less like to gripe about it and try to overturn it, even if the decision doesn’t go their way.
If the parties choose a more inclusive, participative process, the situation may take longer to resolve, but it stays settled, and the parties are happier with the outcome.
Another tenant of good process I’ve stumbled across is that feedback in a group should be given in reverse order of influence. In other words, the boss speaks last, lest everybody’s sense of deference prevents them from being honest.
I’ve also bumped up against this one many times is: “Good decisions are made based on good information.” The heroine who says she needs more time to consider the hero’s hasty marriage proposal? What she really wants is more information—about him, about her options, about the future.
Any rubric of process has limitations. When the house is on fire, you don’t ask the kids whether to save the dog or the cat. When a couple has a history of severe domestic violence, they aren’t good candidates for mediation, because the power imbalance is both great and subtle. When buying a house, if you take too much time looking at available comps, you’ll lose the prospect you were most interested in.
And yet, we all have words of wisdom and sound habits we’ve learned to apply in moments of decision. My mom used to say, “Don’t make decisions when you’re tired.”
What helps you make good decisions, decisions you can live with and support, even if you’re not thrilled with the results?
To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of this week’s release, “Once Upon a Tartan.” In this story, our hero makes some decisions in good faith that he’d make entirely differently if he’d had all the facts…