In an ideal world, we, while engaged in decision making processes, would not be hampered by things such as cognitive bias, would be able to casually construct perfectly sound, rational arguments, avoid fallacies, and all come to agreements on the best course of action to take for the good of all.
But, like Plato, we do not live in the ideal world. We live in the real world, in which ulterior motives, emotional ploys, biases, imperfect memories, and so many other obstacles lay in the path of progress.
Synergistic Deliberation is a methodology as much as it is a discipline. SD is not easy. It takes practice, dedication, humility, cooperation, and persistent attentiveness to one’s own thoughts and outward presentation.
You can be wrong. And that can be okay… as long as you’re willing to accept it as a legitimate opportunity for growth.
We can work together to find solutions that meet all of our needs… but to do so, we must literally work as a team. We must care for each other’s needs. When you view someone that does not share your position on a topic as your opponent, both of you lose the larger challenge.
What are our needs, when it comes to finding solutions to mutual problems? In each problem we face, there is:
- something we fear – this is what urges us to demand our way over someone else’s
- something we want – this is the objective we desire, and the way we desire to get it
- and something we can agree on – this is the objective of Synergistic Deliberation
When we are deliberate and persistent in the practice of SD, we must not only acknowledge our own fears, but the fears of others as equally legitimate. On this dimension, we must not evaluate the legitimacy of a fear against a universal metric. Fears are within each person’s own internal world, where universal metrics do not dwell. When you consider that someone else’s fears are just as valid to them, as your fears are just as legitimate to you, then you’re ready to accept, acknowledge, and honor those realities with the full respect they deserve.
We must also be humble and pragmatic when practicing SD. Unlike our fears, what we want is bound by the real, external world, in which universal metrics do apply. A want, when pursued, effects more than just the one who is wanting. Ignoring this impact on others, and the world around us, is self-defeating: to the extent the pursuit of a want is rejected by the world, is at least the extent to which that want is prevented from being actualized. Therefore, to pursue a want, forcefully, at the expense of others, is not the most efficient course of action to attain that goal.
This goes both ways: the cost of opportunity is never zero for any action. Anything gained is another thing lost, as we are not each our own closed system. So a want that is successfully pursued, and is thus actualized, necessarily is at the expense of others — but a want that is voluntarily at the expense of others will be much more lasting, and overall, much more efficiently obtained.
And here is the crux of SD: the negotiation of and navigation between these two aspects: fear and wanting… with the destination being the actualization of a want, attained by voluntary concessions, which acknowledges and addresses the fears of all the stakeholders thus impacted.
These negotiations should not be considered ideal, not perfect. We are, after all, human. But what we can strive for is a comraderie where we help each other to achieve what is important to each of us, while at the same time protecting each other from each of our fears. That is the goal of Synergistic Deliberation.