Two Heads Logical Rational

Workplace Negotiating Insight No. 17: Don’t be too Rational . . . It’s not Logical.

Observe and Learn:

It happens quite often . . . clients share with me their frustration, their disappointment and their difficulties at work due to the seemingly irrational behaviors of others.

Underlying these frustrations and disappointments are their views that some other person they are dealing with is not acting rationally.

Here is an example: “If he just scheduled our team meetings on Friday, then the entire team could attend, and that would prevent so many miscommunications.”

Here is another example, “If she would just approve one more staff member on my team, all 12 of my other team members would be more effective, and we would more than make up the cost. I just don’t understand her thinking.”

Often, my response is this: “It is not wise to expect people to be rational because when you do so, you are not, yourself, being logical. Logical people recognize and incorporate into their expectations that people are both rational and irrational, and often more irrational than rational in nature.”

What so many people miss – and in doing so cause themselves untold difficulties – is that so very much of people’s behavior is not based in rational thought, but rather in emotion.
Some people go so far as to suggest that most of human behavior is not rational, but emotional.

Fear, greed, lust, insecurity, control, pity, revenge, and other emotions so often lurk beneath the surface of daily life, and underlie even our loftiest decisions.

Not taking into account these powerful emotional motivators makes you so rational that you are not, yourself, being logical. And often the key to getting whatever it is you seek lies in your appealing not to others’ rational minds, but rather to their emotional needs.

And, this is not a one-way street. As the saying goes, “Understanding other people’s motivations is very hard. Understanding your own motivations is even harder.”

So, in dealing with others at work, navigating and negotiating through your work day and work life, bear in mind that expecting 100% rationality is so, so often simply illogical.

Observe and Learn.
Then Navigate and Negotiate.

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