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Monday, October 11, 2010

D is for Deduction

In a culture that thrives on exploring emotion and confessing deep personal needs and believing that lots of appetite for worldly goods justified the consumption of them, we often forget that there is a different way to approach solving problems in the workplace--and beyond.

That approach is called deductive reasoning, and some people do not even know what it is. The reason that word seems foreign is because there is such an emphasis on feelings and personal experience that the discipline of assessing dispassionately is a skill oft forgotten.  For some it doesn't exist.

But whether one uses it regularly or intentionally, deductive reasoning exists anyway.

Deductive reasoning is the ability to place your personal preferences in the background while you assess the pieces of a puzzle you need to solve.

While there is much to be said about trusting your hunches and your intuition like betting on a horse or not getting on an elevator with a shady character who makes the hairs on your neck stand up, when solving workplace issues, deductive reasoning will more likely serve your cause, and consequently, your career best.

The temptation is to believe that inductive reasoning works everywhere all the time.

But it doesn't.

When people at work don't pay for their own coffee and they're supposed to, having a hunch that you know who the secret sippers are won't be worth much if  you accuse someone who is innocent and you're wrong, and you could be wrong.  Even if you're right, if you don't have proof, there's not much else to do after the accusation is made.  Better to install a nanny cam if monitoring the coffee fund matters that much.

And while trespasses against the coffee fund might not be worth the price of a nanny cam, the emphasis on evidence here is worth it.

If you have a point to prove or a case to make, get the evidence. Free the argument from personal bias, hunches and intuition, because when it comes to arguing your position, you can't assume that other people's hunches, biases and intuition will parallel your own.

But others might view the evidence if you present it.

The next time you have a problem to solve at work (or anywhere), check to see if you are operating on instinct or relying upon analysis of the evidence.  If you have the pieces of the puzzle to solve the puzzle with, use them.

They are much more reliable than the hairs on the back of your neck--or that famous gut instinct.

1 comment:

  1. Everyone is assumed to be innocent until proven guilty. It is always important to analyze the situations in question- like a detective would- and to gather evidence to prove your point before wrongly accusing someone. Everyone thinks differently, everyone sees the world in their own way, and everyone holds various views on life. Thus, everyone handles situations in ways that make sense to them. Chances are your co-workers won't always see things "your way" or solve problems the way you do. We should prepare ourselves for such opposing opinions and be ready to consider and deal with them as they come up.