Deciding to say no should be easy sometimes

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you’re in a group that is debating something–such as whether to take on a new investment–for a very long time?

Let’s say your group is healthy and high-functioning. Normally decision making feels natural and strong, and you have a rhythm going for how you make decisions. But suddenly you have this potential investment and the group is debating at length, but having a difficult time coming to a decision.

Keep in mind, I’m not talking about when you have many strong “yes-es” and many strong “nos.” That’s a very different situation, and you should have a process in place to deal with that.

What I’m posing here is a different kind of scenario. Maybe one person is lightly championing the idea, and other people in the group are generally supportive, but sort of wishy washy about it. You can all see that it makes sense, and you could do it, yet there’s very little strong feeling about it either way. You’re going around and around discussing it, but you don’t have anybody that’s passionate and pounding the table.

That is usually the time to decide not to do something.

Even if the opportunity seems good and reasonable and positive, if after lengthy debate no one is feeling passionate enough to say a definitive yes, it is okay to decide a definitive no. Deciding no is an active decision. You’re just deciding to NOT do something.

In many areas of decision making, when you have several strong “yes-es” and several strong “nos” then it’s probably interesting enough to really pursue. However, if there are no strong opinions within the group, it’s probably time to decide “no,” and move along to the next decision. Life is fully of opportunities you’ll care about strongly, so it’s probably best to wait for one of those vs trying to decide to do something that nobody is truly opinionated about one way or the other.

file under: Startups