Monday, June 11, 2018

The Desire Not to Explain

[Photo by Shirly Niv Marton at Unsplash]

It can be difficult to explain the world of work to young people. Some think it is all a matter of connections, of who-you-know being more important than what-you-know. Others regard that as being too glib and instead plant their feet firmly in the what-you-know camp. 

What is difficult to explain is that it can indeed be one or the other but often it is a bit of both and there is no neat formula as to which one will kick in because the world is not consistent. I've seen people turned down because they did have connections and the hiring executives wanted to show that they would not be politically influenced. I've seen many more examples where the employment or promotion decision was mainly cosmetic and the question of qualifications was secondary. In those cases, an odd factor intervened: the eagerness not to have to explain the decision.

I've concluded that the desire not to explain is one of the great unexplored territories in the workplace. Choose this person or take this action and you won't have to explain. Go another route and you will meet a legion of second-guessers who will want you to go into great detail to justify just why you made that choice. They may even question if you should keep your job.

What all of this means is that while "Who will do the best job?" should be the sole question, it is often seen as merely one question and it may not carry the greatest weight.

Expecting logic to prevail can be illogical.


Dan in Philly said...

I find most people follow extremely logical processes, but that I seldom know what those are and the end result might look like arbitrary randomness. It's difficult to explain this perspective to the young since it requires a subtle understanding of the world that takes years to attain, if ever.

Michael Wade said...


It is a never-ending learning process.