How NOT To Make Group Decisions

I don’t think this is something to be taken lightly. Everyone needs to make decisions. No matter how big or small. Some people can handle it well. Too well, even. You know what I’m talking about; those people who are so specific about what they want people mistake them for control freaks. Hey, they’re different things. Though one can be both, I’ll give that much.

Anyway, this post’s inspired by a quick trip to my friend’s house. There’re 10 of us, and we’re supposed to watch movies, since today’s the last day before school starts again.

I’ll just save you all a boring story and give some steps to what I’ve learnt (or re-learnt) from the experience.

1. Not saying what you want.

If you don’t like something, say it. If you’re deciding on what you want to watch and you don’t like horror movies, just say so. It’s humane to be afraid of something.

One time, I was eating with a bunch of friends, two of whom were treating the whole lot of us. They went to get money and told us to just order whatever we wanted. So we did. And he forgot to tell us to order non-spicy food for him. Granted, that was a blunder. But the saying goes: “Ask and you shall receive.” and not “Keep quiet; someone magical will appear and make your silent wishes come true.”

2. Expecting everyone to just go along with you.

Here’s a quote from a famous person in case you don’t want to read the rest of this:

So, to expect total conformity, even from your inner circle of whatever, is plain stupidity. I expect anyone above seven years of age and not living in an isolated place/culture to know that there are hundreds of different cultures on our planet. Even in an isolated place where a child may never have contact with the outside world, of course he/she would sooner or later learn that different people have different characteristics, that lead to different preferences, that lead to different choices.

And I have a problem with people who just expects everyone to comply to something. Like travel. Okay, it’s pretty safe to assume everyone likes to look at beautiful scenery, no matter how specific (example: they only like steep waterfalls surrounded by trees). But travel isn’t for everyone. Chocolate isn’t either. Reading—true reading, like, the type of reading that consumes the soul—is appreciated by only a handful of people (no, I won’t place myself in this group. I have restrictions to what I’ll read). Even ice cream… well, you get my point.

3. Forcing everyone else to go with your choice.

No one likes control freaks. Enough said.

But just in case, do you know the sort of people in the quote below? The ones who’ll shun you out or put distance or give you some form of social punishment if you behave astray from their ever-tightening bonds of “this is who we are”.

“If I don’t conform to what you were born into, then you run the other way” — Call It What You Want by Foster The People

4. Being afraid to be the oddball of the team, going along with their choice, then sulking about it.

It’s nothing short of pathetic. It’s especially so when the ones doing it are those who share pictures of quotes like this one:

They’re in desperate need of a pat. On the head. With a hammer. Wielded by reality and integrity.

It’s not like you couldn’t have spoken up or something. If you’ve fought for what you wanted but didn’t get it, a mild amount of sulking is usually tolerable. If you didn’t, however, just suck it in. Your friends should know you, but that doesn’t make it right for you to expect them to be psychics and always make choices that’d please you.

In fact, I have a friend who’s like this. He tries to use subtle ways so you’d do what he wants. Being the blockhead that I am, I don’t succumb. If he’s not happy with you, he gives you the silent treatment. And he’s done so to me a few times. Sometimes I am at fault, but when I apologize he won’t even look at me. It’s not about being a guy or a girl, it’s about being a jerk. I’ve learnt to just let him be and keep my distance. Yeah, I seem cold to him. But I’d rather not be in his mind games. Basically he craves attention, wants others to chase after him. You know what I mean?

Frankly, it’s getting worse and worse. And if he doesn’t end it, soon enough no one’ll stand it anymore. I’m losing patience with him myself. In junior high, there were only a few people who disliked him (no, not hate. He’s not that bad of a person. In fact, he could be really nice when he wants to be.) but now even the ones who hang out with him are tired of his act.

I sincerely hope he’ll change and when varsity life starts he won’t be so much of a prick as now.

5. Being too democratic and solid.

While democracy’s good for some things, it isn’t for other stuff. For this part I have two categories; majority over minority and being too easygoing. Sure, the greater good is more important than a single individual’s preference. But that doesn’t justify if the group pressures someone to make a choice that’s neutral, like picking a place to eat or what kind of music to listen to. It destroys individuality.

On a previous post in my old blog about gangs (it’s in Bahasa, though), one of the gangs broke up because a part of it expected too much from the others. There were about 30 people in it. Unless they’re telepathic, it’s just unrealistic and plain silly to want all 30 people present at every outing, doing everything together. Even looking for a place to eat was hard at times, and some in the group were only close to a few people and friendly strangers with everyone else. It’s a pain to make decisions with the amount of people alone, much more when you expect conformity from them.

It’s also bad if you’re too passive. By passive I mean staying quiet or going with the flow every single time. By saying “What does everyone else want to do?” it shows you care for them in a way (or maybe you really don’t care about what you’re gonna do with them) but when the whole lot is like that it becomes insufferable.

I’ve been in that situation many times, and what works is someone leaves and the rest will follow. If that someone happens to be me, the place is likely a bookstore or cafe.

One time there were about fifteen of us, and we couldn’t make up our minds about which movie to watch. A few threatened to leave, and did. But they stopped not far from the cinema and went back in after a few minutes. Finally I left—and believe me, I don’t wait for people when my patience runs out—and everyone else ended up going after me.

It’s mostly like that, it’s just a matter of who takes action first. And while it’s not fatal to relationships, it wastes too much time. So, yeah.

6. Something I’d like to call “Group-skipping”.

Basically what I mean by that is you hang out with different groups of people. Which is fine. But you make your range of friendships as a convenience. When you have a conflict of interest with your group, you leave them for another. Now, say, two groups are hanging out at the same day and both invite you to join, it’s justifiable to go with the one that’ll give you a better time. But I’m talking about ditching/abandoning a group entirely and just tagging along for the fun of it.

Have some decency, for the love of humanity! Of course they have to stand you, why not bother with them? A group (or any bond for that matter) needs solidarity; something gained by being there for the good and bad. One of the ways to show you’re there is by tagging along even if you know you’d rather be elsewhere, just because you know an activity or gathering or something means a lot to your friends.

I hate dressing up. I don’t really enjoy buying clothes that I don’t like. I still do that to be at my friends’ sweet seventeens.

And it’s not like you have to give up everything. I just buy clothes that’s acceptable for the dress code and presentable at semi-formal events. As long as they know you care, as long as society would still tolerate you, then you’re gonna be just peachy.  🙂

Hope my rambling helps. Or at least it’s entertaining. In the month I’ve spent procrastinating doing this post I’ve realized that some people are just clueless to what they want, but they don’t want the options available. Some, like me, know precisely what we want, or at least what we don’t want.

But everyone needs balance. I need to learn to tolerate not getting what I want, and clueless people need to find inspiration or something they could use as a base to make decisions.

Ha-ha. As if that’s gonna be easy to do. *sighs*