“I wouldn’t have done it that way!” These are very easy words to express but what do they really mean? Most people who use these words, or some such sentiment, will tell you:
- They’re only trying to help
- They’re helping the person learn
- They want the other person to see things from a different perspective.
Those are all great reasons, but, do the words “I wouldn’t have done it that way” express those positive intentions? I don’t think so.
To me those words:
- Assign blame
- Shift accountability
- Feed the ego and superiority attitudes
Using these words could also be considered a cheap shot or a cowardly statement.
Lots of factors need to be considered when decisions are made. When a person is not present and engaged in the decision-making process they:
- Don’t know the circumstances
- Aren’t aware of the dilemma’s the decision maker faced
- Are looking at the decision from the perspective of hindsight
The more impactful decisions are very difficult to make. If you weren’t there as part of the decision-making process, don’t second guess.
What if your intention is to truly help? Help the person think through their decision-making process. Help them learn. Don’t second guess.
You may want to try things like:
- What has changed since the decision was made?
- Were there other perspectives that might have been useful at the time?
- Was input received from relevant sources?
- Was there pressure to make any decision at the time?
The answer to these and other questions may lead to a better decision-making process in the future. Or, the conclusion may be that the best decision was made at the time. Use these learning efforts to reinforce the decision maker. Support them. Help them grow.
Don’t second guess. It’s not useful.