Decide What Is Unacceptable Before It Is Too Late (in Politics, Relationships, and Business)

I was already planning to write this; current events make it all the more vital.

I have a technique for making complex decisions, particularly when your decision is based on what another person – or group – does. This goes for all kinds of situations – political, business, or intimate relationships. And it works, even if the other people are exhibiting some really narcissistic behaviors.

Recently my son asked me for help. He was going to negotiate with someone else about – without putting too fine a point on it – the direction his life was going to take in the next few years. [1] He was unsure how to approach this huge decision – because it depended on what someone else did.

That kind of situation is especially hard to plan out. When it’s just you, there are lots of resources available providing decision-making strategies. But when you are restricted to a reactive role, it can seem a lot more daunting.

My advice was pretty straightforward.

  1. Define the areas of negotiation.
  2. For each area of negotiation, do the following:
    * Decide what your ideal, pie-in-the-sky outcome is.
    * Decide what is unacceptable (the no-go situation).
  3. Decide what you will do if the other person(s) will not agree to something between your ideal and no-go situation.

This system is great for those who are aneurotypical (or neuroatypical), have anxiety disorders, or something similar. You have done all the hard thinking before you even start talking to the other person; everything else is just a series of if-then-else trees.

Let me give you a practical (and fictional) example:

You are applying for a new job; the salary is negotiable. You know you need a living wage for someone with zero children. In my area, that’s $10.69. You would like to get $15 an hour.

When you start negotiating, you start by suggesting $15 an hour. If they agree to anything above your minimum ($10.69 in this example), then you accept the job. If they will only pay you less than that amount, then you reject the job.

Repeat as needed.

Here’s the trick, though: You have to consider this ahead of time.

If you try to do this during negotiations, it’s very, very easy to distract you from what you actually need. [2] You must consider this ahead of time to avoid sliding down a slippery slope. You must consider this ahead of time so that you do not agree to something that is in your “no-go” zone.

The business example above is pretty obvious, but it applies to all sorts of decisions. Should you stay in that relationship? Should you drop that friend?

What should you do about the country?

It’s that last which terrifies me right now. With the lack of courage shown by the GOP in the Senate, the GOP regime is already purging those who dared tell the truth. Trump has – again – “joked” that he should be president for life. One of Trump’s arguments during the Senate trial was that anything he did to help him stay in power was automatically in the country’s best interest and therefore legal. [3]

I know people who left this country after Trump’s election (hey Rob!); the election of an unqualified demagogue was enough for them to take action.

That’s the question I bring to you today.

What will be enough for you – yes, you – to stop going about your daily life as if things are normal?

When will you decide that “business as normal” is no longer an option?

When will it be more than you can bear?

Read Martin Niemöller’s poem (quoted below) again, slowly.

Realize that we have already locked children in cages and separated children from their parents for daring to believe the words on the Statue of Liberty.

Realize that we have already sent hundreds of refugees to their deaths.

Realize that we have already opened the floodgates to pollute the earth again in the name of profit.

Realize that we have already restricted the rights of American citizens because they don’t act the way they think you should or love someone that this regime thinks is “abnormal”.

Realize that this regime is punishing entire states for daring to disagree with it.

They have already come for many people – including those who once agreed with them.

When will it be too much for you?

First they came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me.

Martin Niemöller

Featured Photo by Vladislav Babienko on Unsplash

[1] The specifics are his to tell, not mine.
[2] There are a number of ways to distract, ranging from bullying to manipulation to scare tactics.
[3] And if that doesn’t terrify you, realize that argument can now be used for any politician, regardless of party.

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