People have problems. The vast majority of my day is spent responding to many of those problems. To respond adequately, I must discuss. Sometimes I am ready to discuss problems with just about anyone who will listen, but really my discussions are with employees, supervisors, service line directors, my staff, and when appropriate, the union.
We work through emotions and initial reactions. We look at the information we have and attempt to differentiate facts from conclusions. We consider past precedents. We go to the attorneys for what ever black and white guidelines we can find. We debate the merits, the pros and the cons. We consider second thoughts, second opinions and second-guessing. We consider mitigating circumstances. Then, we consider what is right. Sometimes I bring us to this point, sometimes I am brought to this point, and sometimes we get to this point without knowing how we got there but the bottom line is, we are there.
I have had a number of discussions recently and at times, I find myself saying, "Yes, when you consider that, it does make a difference." I've also said, "If this were me, I would expect the same consideration," or, "I didn't have that distinction before, I can see your point." I've also been known to day, "I don't agree but I can support that direction."
The discussions always go a little differently. I had a conversation recently with a colleague. As we worked through a problem, all of the issues were brought to the table. Opinions, concerns and emotions were aired, and in the end we came to an understanding. The outcome was quite different from my initial recommendation, but I can still support it.
The problem itself, the issues raised and the discussion participant is not important at all. What is important, for me, was something I did not say. As the discussion was coming to a close, I had a thought.
I thought about wisdom. I wondered how this discussion and my responses and reactions to this particular problem would have been different if I had the information, insight, and understanding I have now. Where does the wisdom lie? Is it about being all knowing? Is it about being able to surmise another's motivation, perception, preferred course of action?
Or, is it simply about being willing to engage in the conversation?