Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Agreeableness? Sure, I'll Have Some of That...

Imagine, if you will, that you're setting up a room for an event that will be catered.  Your answers are in italics.

A co-worker says, "Let's put the drinks on the left side of the room, and the food right nearby there, over towards the window." 

"Sure, sounds good."  

The co-worker: "On second thought, the drinks should probably go closer to the window, but the food would be better off tucked over on the table to the left."  

"Okay, that works."  

Again, co-worker: "You know, I think it would be easier if people could access the food and drinks together.  Let's put them both on the table in the far corner on the right."

"Yeah, we could do that."  

By this point, the co-worker might say, "Well, what is it that you REALLY think?  You were fine with all of the options, but I can't tell which one you think is best.  You're just agreeing with whatever I say!"  [The implication is that you're just 'going along to get along' or being passive-aggressive.  How, otherwise, could you be okay with the drinks being on the left side or the right side?].  

If I had to listen to a transcript of the conversation above, here is how I would interpret the italicized responses: The person doesn't really have a dog in the fight, and is trying to be cooperative and help move the chains ten yards down the field.  Period.  

Sometimes when someone is being "agreeable," even though that might have a bad connotation to some, it's really just that simple:  when the matter at hand is deemed to be inconsequential, it's not that the person responding doesn't care or isn't listening.  It's that he or she doesn't see any real difference between the alternatives.  What's the best way forward in those situations?  In my opinion, it's whatever it takes to help get that proverbial first down.  If someone says paint the wall white, then YES! Let's whitewash it.  But now they're leaning green?  Let's break out the Forest primer!  If it's just arbitrary to me, then yes, I am going to be *with* whatever is going to get it done. Especially if the alternative is a lot of truly worthless dithering...think back to the example of the story about the donkey who was hungry and thirsty, came upon food and water, couldn't decide which one he wanted more, pondered for days, and then died from starvation and thirst...don't be that ass!  

And that is what I REALLY think about being agreeable!  But if you disagree, I suppose I could see it from your perspective...

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