After hours of discussions, all arguments have been heard and it’s time to reach a decision. That’s when the delays begin, everyone feels the need to repeat his or her arguments. The discussion drag on and on. Most of us have been taught in school, at university, during career planning workshops and internships, that we must present ourselves, that we must act assertively and try to distinguish ourselves from the pack. “You have to assert yourself,” daddy says to his child and encourages him to jump the queue. He’ll feel the consequences of this kind of education for the rest of her life, he will drag out countless meetings by “asserting” his views and by repeating what others have already said. It gives her him feeling of having maximized her impact.
All participants in a discussion have their own interests, they want to garner support for their own arguments and their own vision. They want to ascend within the hierarchy, or protect their privileged status, or increase their responsibilities. When a meeting drags on, the explanation for delays and indecisiveness can usually be found in the complex ecosystem of participants’ competing interests. The only solution is to stick as closely as possible to factual arguments, until all the oxygen is drained from the room, everyone knows that the discussion has run its course. It’s time to wrap up. You can use whatever euphemisms you prefer for “strong positions” and “weak positions,” but the ability to distinguish between different degrees of commitment is often what allows for a fact-driven discussion and for concrete results. And if all else fails, remove the chairs. When everyone has to stand, the propensity to compromise will suddenly increase considerably.
Politicians decide with they’re buttocks stuck in a chair. (Definition of POLITICASTER : an unstatesmanlike practitioner of politics : a petty or contemptible politician.)