Decision Making - the Stories we Tell

I'm finishing up "Crucial Confrontations" by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler. I read and reviewed its counterpart, "Crucial Conversations" last year and plan to review this one as well in the future; it's a really great book.

One of the things the authors talk about is that we often shy away from confrontation because of the stories we tell ourselves. Those stories can take lots of shapes and sizes, but one of the most common is that we make the decision to fight or flight based only on the worst case scenario.

To say it another way, when we are deciding whether or not to have a hard conversation we imagine the worst possible outcome of that conversation and then weigh it against the potential for reward. This leads us to almost always shy away from hard conversations except in the most extreme circumstances because there is no end to our ability to imagine worst case scenarios:

If I confront her about leaving the coffee machine on in the workroom, there's a possibility that will have received her concealed carry license yesterday and is hiding an oozy under her jacket. Who knows but what our conversation will be the thing that sends her over the psychological edge causing her to pull out the oozy and begin shooting. Then my kid won't have a father and his kids will spend their lives in therapy because I didn't get to come to Grandparents Day at their school. Better not have the conversation.

Unfortunately, this tendency isn't just limited to hard conversations. Many people live their lives making decisions like this.

It's an awfully foolish way to make decisions. The worst-case scenario is rarely the actual scenario that plays out.

We have to think about the worst-case scenario, but it's far more wise to consider risk/reward in light of the most likely scenario rather than the worst-case scenario. What is most likely to happen if I move forward from here?

Making decisions based on false narratives is a great way to miss out on good opportunities.