What to Do?

People face tough decisions every day in a wide array of scenarios. It may relate to health, business, relationships or money. Should the aggressive cancer treatment be undertaken despite the risks? How many people should be trimmed now the business has been taken over? Do we send in troops against the enemy on foreign soil? Do I give her another chance despite her infidelity? Does this blue or pink shirt look better? President Obama explained that by the time a matter was referred to him for an outcome there was no easy decision.

This is because people are troubled by conscience. A conscience is that thing which causes you to frame your own decisions as if someone was watching what you are doing or thinking, even though you are alone. People make decisions tougher than they need be because they are worried how people will react, how it will make that person look in front of others, how it will impact on other people and whether they will be damned if they do and damned if they don’t. These considerations do not trouble my kind and me.

My kind and me receive a lot of bad press about the things we say and do. Of course you will not be holding your breath in the expectation of some kind of apology because that is just not going to happen. I do know however that you are a reasonable person who looks at matters in a balanced and fair-minded fashion (it is just that I tell everyone else that you are crazy harpy who is out of control). With that in mind, you really ought to give thanks for people like me because we can be relied on to make the tough decisions that have to be made.

For example, imagine there is a redundancy situation in your department and in one particular team four people are at risk of losing their jobs. Two positions have to go and one of your friends is in this pool of individuals at risk. How would you go about deciding who is selected for redundancy and who is not? That part of you that is dedicated to fairness and the correct way of doing things would decide that a prescribed selection criteria should be applied to all four who are at risk. You would apply scores for each person to the criteria and the two lowest would be then selected for redundancy. The empath in you knows however your friend will face serious financial consequences if he lost his job now, notwithstanding the redundancy package. You also fear you will lose your friendship if he is made redundant. You agonise over what you should do. Should you apply the scores fairly and then be beyond reproach in the event of a legal challenge to the decision but risk losing your friend and causing him severe problems? Alternatively, should you massage the scores bumping up a couple of his and reducing a couple of someone else’s? Who would know if it is just a few points difference? What about speaking to the head of the department and trying to save one of the jobs so there is only one casualty? In such a scenario you know your friend will be safe as one of the candidates is poor at his job and is nailed on to be chosen. I know that you would face quite a dilemma in trying to make this decision and ultimately you would probably pass it on to someone else citing a conflict of interest.

What about me? What would I do? Would I apply the criteria and the poorest two lose out? After all, surely we want the best employees and if there is dead wood it needs to be cut out irrespective of any friendship that may exist? Would I instead apply my own criteria of who will provide me with the best fuel in this office dynamic and allow that to influence the supposed objective scoring? Would I make the decision that suits me the best and then reverse engineer the situation to give it the veneer of legitimacy? I should imagine that you will be inclined to think that I would do the latter. If so, you would be wrong.

I would fire all four. Their work would be distributed to other people in the department on the basis that they would receive a small bonus if they achieve certain targets. The business makes a greater saving by losing the foursome and four other employees become very grateful to me, thus giving me plenty of fuel, as a consequence of this incentive. I then contact two of the four and explain that if they bide their time I will ensure they can be re-hired in a few months’ time, before the pay-off has been depleted and thus they will actually find themselves in a better position. I will recruit those two in the new financial year so the previous year’s savings remain good. The re-hired individuals will be eternally grateful to me, ensuring loyalty and further fuel, plus I shall ensure they become my lieutenants as repayment for me looking out for them. The hold I have over my higher-up will ensure the recruitments go through without incident and are done outside of the time allowed for the two who remain out in the cold to bring a tribunal claim.

What about the friend in all of this? Who cares? He should have fuelled me more and he might have been saved. As it is, I have found some new friends who are ever so grateful for my largesse and who are perfectly content to propagate my explanation that the friend was released as a consequence of some behaviour that cannot be expanded on but let us say is outside the range of normative behaviours of decent people in society. When the friend comes calling to vent his spleen at me, well his anger and insults are all good fuel aren’t they?

The way you are wired causes you to make decisions tough.

We, by contrast, make the tough decisions.

You really ought to thank us.

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22 thoughts on “What to Do?”

  1. This is actually brilliant from a business perspective. I would hire you, HG, to run my business. If I had one that is. 🙂 This is also why it’s best not to mix business with friendship.

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    1. Insatiable Learner, you would hire him to run your company. He in turn would grow your business, seek 3rd party investors, sell off shares, and then have the stakeholders vote you out of your own company. In the end, you’d be kicked out the door without a backward glance.

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      1. Don’t forget that they will take all the good results coming from YOUR works as theirs.
        If you will do a misstep they will smear you with your workers behind your back.
        If you have a lot of work to do they will promise help even if you didn’t ask for it then deny it when you are very close to the deadline.

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  2. Absolutely correct… no mixing business with friendship or pleasure…

    Btw…yes you can make the tough decisions without regard to their feelings but I assure you that even an empath can make that decision if they are NOT doing their job properly. Of course we would land the blow easier than you but business is business and that is where the line is drawn. If a friend were to be upset over the lay-off then they have no right to be there anyhow.

    I work with tons of vendors on a daily, customer service is a huge part as well as providing me what I request. I do not mess around with vendors who do not CARE about quality product nor their customer. We deal with huge contracts… I am not losing a customer over a vendor and I have no problem with cutting them loose as well.

    As I said business is business… even though this is not my business, I do greatly appreciate my employer and will do whatever is necessary to help them succeed and excel. (of course within my perceived moral limitations)

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  3. I love the way you explained this.

    It is entirely true. It is impossible to be effective or efficient when emotion/empathy fuels thoughts, actions, and words.

    Excellent, as always!

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  4. Hello H G, I have to ask you what % of your day is spent hammering these articles out? I am curious. Is this your full time gig now?
    Thx 🙂

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    1. Many of them had been written some time ago and held in reserve, so I had a stockpile prior the blog starting. I usually write late at night, where if I am not working on a book I will write 4 or 5.

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      1. I don’t research, I don’t need to as its all based on me. I plan the structure in some cases and other times I just write what comes.

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  5. I have a very hard choice to make. My emotions do waver in and out in this decision. I know most all the facts, and yet I stand frozen. The result could be very rewarding or very devastating. There is no in between.
    I need to get a few more answers to some questions I have and then I make a choice to jump or back away.

    How would you handle this HG? Do you take calculated risks?

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  6. HG, this is an interesting post for me, as I do the point system to a tee – you pegged it; however, I solely focus on facts – if I make an emotional decision for a friend, it comes out of my pocket as I personally view that as stealing from the business if no factual conclusion supports it. What I found interesting about this article was more of how the process was completed from a sensory vs. emotional response given the termination of the four employees provided for in this example.

    The question is whether Narcissists evaluate the facts before they fire and implement their strategy or does it range by classes of Narcissism? Is the Narcissist’s sensory perception an advantage to this process whereas the Empath suffers more of a disadvantage?

    Naturally, first and foremost, I respect that, the Narcissist views this differently per entitlement so this thought process most likely would garner eye rolls, but for what it is worth, I want to go there…because the difference seems to be HOW the situation is handled more so than the actual outcome maybe? The Empath feels a moral obligation to spend the time to make an educated decision whereas the Narcissist does not – but I wonder how often the educated decision differs from the Narcissists instinctual response? Like, how often do they indirectly lead to differing outcomes when compared to the facts?

    For me personally, I could not apply emotion and would only have to view it factually to feel that I did the best I could in fairness if in a position of fiduciary capacity…i.e. if Josh loses his job, he will be homeless and his wife will leave him but makes $5,000 more than Pete a month who does an equally good job and not in the crisis of Josh, but one in the department has to go. Empathically, I would view Josh’s situation as more life-altering, but unless I paid the $5000 per month to keep Josh out of my own pay, would view my empathy to have resulted in a breach of my fiduciary duty to the Company and it’s shareholders if there was no other differentiating factors – i.e. not my money to give. Most likely, a Narcissist attitude would have fired Josh long ago and taken the $5000 as a bonus as he or she saved the Company Josh’s entire salary and gave Pete a small incentive and things are never better. On the opposite side, the Empath struggles to come to terms to with her or his loyalty based on interpersonal relationships and thought processes that can may very well further encumber shareholders and/or his or herself. Alternatively, extra work may be dumped on the Empath as the Narcissist gets the bonus with the Empath finding the situation more “normal” to take on the extra projects and sacrifice his or her time.

    For me, fairness is policy. All those documents, contracts and laborious hours of checking on work performance of who did what is the only conceivable notion whereas the Narcissist simply enacts the “Your fired” speech. Certainly, the Narcissist perspective is less work. However, in reflection, I asked myself, “Well, why would I do that?” So far, what I have come up with is that I do so because I believe that is what one does for others – it is the spirt of being human and acknowleding opinions and things that matter that determine the structure of who I am – if in a position of leadership, whether I make the call to give someone a severance or try to increase pay to get them to stay or work on addressing their issues from a standpoint of future checks and balances, from my own pocket or the shareholders – it is a reflection of what I believe must be done because we are human beings and not objects and that is the spirit of which I choose to operate. I could make an argument that this creates integral trust and teamwork essential to the business operations (of which shareholders are rolling eyes…lol). But in the end, what makes a business successful is the leadership and the people behind it – some may not make it and change often happens.

    So I would acknowledge that the Narcissist’s Balance Sheet and salary will probably be more impressive and his salary higher than the Empath, (making him a value to the majority shareholders and unlikely to be voted off by the Board), whereby the Empath would be more valued by the people and the overall organization’s health and stability. I would argue it could be an invaluable CEO/COO position except that the Empath may have just signed his or her herself up for a position that most likely will end abusively. It is interesting though to think about as the Narcissist is definitely more valued in corporate American than that of the Empath to shareholders…but again, the Narcissist focuses on self gain and Empath others but these viewpoints ripple to almost a different class of people – shareholders vs. employees – cool to think about it – not done dissecting but but as also always, a very well written post 🙂

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  7. This blog made me smile…right at the end. Some make me feel ‘oh so stupid’, others like ‘yeah that’d be right’, and some I cant wait to get to the end just for the punch line. (all have that but some are better than others). All your blogs are so relatable to me HG, with my ex. I read him in every one. Thanks heaps.

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  8. One thing you hit the mark on is that empaths refuse to embrace their dark side. Sages say there is no light without the darkness. There is a misconception that for us to live a content life, we should be full of love and joy always. To feel the full range of human emotions and accept these without judgement is a sound base to follow. This is where your scenario falters. Refusal to consider human emotions is, in my opinion, the downfall of many organizations and companies. To only go by the what is best for the company and what will bring the best profits does not make for a quality company. The highest rated companies in this country are the ones that include quality treatment of its employees and who values its customers. Business is business, but people are people.
    I personally would not take your offer. I would have saw through your game and moved on. I am an empath after all. I surely do not need that kind of game in my life and I feel sorry for those who get sucked in.

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  9. Nope, Sir. I sure would fire those people who need to be fired. After all, I wouldnt like to work some where my friends are hired. That is your great mistake. All people are some kind of empaths. I am not. I do not have “friends” at the Uni. If they are working with me or for me, good. If not, good bye! I am loyal to my family only. That is what counts to me

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