Showing Common Sense
Author: Catherine Pulsifer, ©2011
I have been in situations where someone who is more educated, or who is in a more senior position, made a decision that I thought could be done differently. My common sense told me that it was the wrong decision. But, I thought they must know what they were doing because they were more educated, and in a more senior position. So I didn't say or suggest anything.
I Should Have Said Something
But once the decision was made, and the action was taken, I realized that I should have spoken up and expressed my opinion; as the decision was not a good one.
Don't Just Accept
Far too many of us blindly accept a decision of a superior without challenging the assumptions upon which the decision is based. But many times the employee is the one doing the job day in and day out, and the superior is often to far removed from the actual work being done.
Sometimes we lack the confidence to speak up. And, sometimes we do not want to upset our boss or co-worker. But if we had spoke up and suggested a better way things could have worked out different. We need to realize that we are the ones doing the job, therefore we are the expert in that area, and if we had given our reasons for our suggestion the superior may have reconsidered what they had planned to do.
There are also situations where we don't want to speak up and express a difference of opinion. We want to get along with everyone and don't want to disagree. But your common sense is telling you this decision that is being made will not work and you know the reason why but you don't want to speak up because someone may be upset or someone may challenge you and it is not in your nature to debate. A quote from the book, 33 Professional Development Tips written by Andrew Tye, expresses thoughts on confidence like this: "Just because you are humble doesn't mean you can't be confident. And you need to be. In an interview, in a meeting, in a presentation - you have to show confidence."
And Speak Up
I also have been in many situations where my own decisions were not the right ones. After the fact, a co-worker would say to me, "I knew that was not the right thing to do." It always amazed me that they did not speak up and voice their opinion. Teamwork requires all members to speak up and voice their opinions and their thoughts behind their reasoning. There is nothing that can destroy a team faster than comments like I knew that was wrong. I felt betrayed by the co-worker, why didn't they say something, after all our success is dependent on everyone.
There have been many times once something is pointed out that I have rethought my action. And, of course, there were times when I wished I had listened and didn't. But, that is how we learn. Our mistakes are one of the best teachers we have - but that is a subject for another article.
On the other hand, showing the confidence to challenge decisions based on our own common sense can lead to more thoughtful decisions. Don't be afraid to speak up, voice your thoughts in a constructive and positive manner. The key here is expressing yourself in a "positive" way. Sometimes the way objections are phrased can put people in a defensive mood. But if the rejection is based on good sense and is put forward in a positive manner you would be surprised to the reaction you get. If someone starts out by saying, "that won't work." Immediately it puts the person on the defensive. But, if someone starts out by saying, "That idea has merit, but what if we ...." This initiates a total different reaction because we are not putting down the other person.
Just Part of Life
Life is a series of challenges and different interpretations. Not everything we say is necessarily interpreted correctly and it is up to you to extend an open invitation to those around you to speak freely in order to clarify or question. If you want to be respected, to be seen as a person that is open and available to all, common sense applied to everything, then be honest, and seek open communication with everyone not just a few selected people. This applies to leaders and to team members.
If you are a leader, then rely on your team - they are the experts and given the opportunity they may surprise you. We always need to remember they are the ones who know the job, and they know the issues better than we do. You have to create an environment where their confidence is built up. An environment where there is not a "put down" attitude; one where everyone is listened to. And, if you as a leader do not agree with their suggestion, then a reason should be given as to why - their should be a discussion. Otherwise, you will find no one will suggest anything and you will miss some great ideas.
And, if you are a team member, you have a responsibility to contribute suggestions and ideas. Always be able to explain your logic for your thought. You may find your career advancing because you will be respected and seen as someone who cares and wants the company to be successful. Always, present your thoughts in a positive manner. I know that comment sounds like common sense, but it is amazing how often we are not positive or we come across as negative by saying things like, "that won't work."
The Genius In Us All
Consider the wisdom of Josh Billings who once said, "Common sense is instinct and enough of it is genius."
Sometimes we see other people as a genius as we feel they are smarter than we are. They have more education, they can talk a good talk, but many times education and real world experience - what some would call "street smarts" - can make all the difference. You see you can read books, and study which gives you all the theory, but when you have actually experienced a situation it truly can make you wiser than the most educated person you know. Again it comes back to our confidence, and our belief in ourselves.
I am not saying that being educated is of no value, what I am saying is that many times experience brings common sense which is something that just reading a book or studying does not give you. To summarize, the quote said by Robert Green Ingersoll expresses this thought well: "It is a thousand times better to have common sense without education than to have education without common sense."
So be confident, express your thoughts in a positive way, and you will find that your own practical common sense will prevail and help make the right decisions.
Inspirational Quotes for Reflection:
"Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done." Josh Billings
"In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing." Theodore Roosevelt
"If you find that you are doubting yourself, stop and reflect on all your past achievements. Be confident about yourself." Catherine Pulsifer
"Honesty is perhaps just as important a factor in one's communication skills as trust." Ross Elkins
"We, as human beings, learn through sharing and communicating." Hugo Reynolds
"Wisdom is not just the ability to make money. That may be one example of an aspect to wisdom, but wisdom is being able to apply knowledge." Samuel Leeds
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