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Is anyone opposed … ?

Would anyone be opposed to … ?

Are you opposed to … ?

Or my personal favorite

As long as no one is opposed …

I hear this question, under many different guises, throughout the day. I cringe every time I hear it, especially when it comes out of my own mouth. The question sets up a challenge: “Do you dare prevent me from … ?” Sometimes people will take you up on the challenge. If you are in a position of authority, many times they will not.

Why is this a bad thing?

The challenge will trigger a fight or flight response, increasing stress levels, dramatically decreasing the ability to create the best idea.

When this challenge is issued, the desired response is silence. Silence is not agreement. Silence can be a seed of bitterness and resentment that will bear fruit later.

By setting up agreement through inaction, you have also accepted the full consequences of this decision. If things go wrong, and the inevitably do, don’t expect any support from “the unopposed.” Just because they weren’t opposed, doesn’t mean they support it.

What to do

Break the cycle of opposition. When I hear the Opposed Question, I pause, and state that it is time to make a decision. Turn the question around to ask “Will you support … ?” and get a response from each individual regarding their support. You should not take action until support is unanimous, and the best ideas have been discovered.

This is going to take forever!

Getting unanimous support for taking action is extremely difficult. Luckily, there is help readily available. I have found the Decider from the Core Protocols to be an extremely helpful way to make unanimous decisions (that are biased toward results) that support the best ideas. Try it with your team!

So as long as no one is opposed, I’m going to publish this now…

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Comments

  1. Kevin Johnston says:

    Perhaps it would be best to avoid a closed ended question in the first place. Rather than solicit the yes or no answer, one could just ask “what do you think of this option?”. Yours is an insightful analysis of much used phrase, albeit sometimes a rhetorical ploy… Cheers!

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