Guidebolt

Principle of Authority Compliance

2018.03.30

Generally obey the rules of authority, but know the wisdom of when to simply comply, when to extend the engagement, and when to conditionally refuse.

Overview

There are times when rational conversations slide into the territory of disagreement. At any point, the party with greater authority may use their political power to force their decision. This is a fine traditional action to avoid decision paralysis and move forward. You should uphold a standard for handling strong conflicting opinions regardless of political advantage or disadvantage.

Standard Procedure for the Stronger Party

Reasoning

When you are the party with stronger authority, your correct action will generally be to communicate a factual explanation with concise and steady points. When you under-inform the other party, you risk amplifying their disagreement bias, jeopardize the decision from being carried out correctly, and miss a teaching/learning opportunity for long-term personal growth. That said, there are times when it is correct for you to exclaim your judgment call and demand compliance to authority. Also, there are times when you may lose yourself in the moment/topic and start thinking irrationally- you must respect the distinct perspective of the other party as a guard against this slanted mental state.

Appraisal of Decision Importance

Small decisions are less risky. They're not worth spending too much time on. Big decisions are sensitive and you should always be cautious about missing an important reason not to do things a certain way.

Standard Procedure for the Weaker Party

Compliance

When you are the party with weaker authority, your correct action will generally be to comply with the judgment call (ex. "Alright. I'm still not convinced but I respect your authority. Let's do it your way."). That said, you have options to constructively respond to a judgment call while maintaining respect for authority.

Reflection Request

If you believe that their decision is wrong, you may ask them to reflect on the issue (ex. "Are you sure you want to do ABC despite risks X, Y, and Z?"). If their stance wavers, ask if they want to spend a bit more time discussing the factors (ex. "Do you think it's worth spending 10 more minutes talking about factors X, Y, and Z?"). If their stance remains firm, move to compliance.

Delay Request

While a reflection request may buy you a few more minutes to present your case, sometimes that period is too short for you to remember and convey your ideas eloquently. When you need to prepare diagrams or retrieve excerpts from source material, you may want to ask for another meeting, generally after a few hours or on the next day (ex. "I remember that inventor X wrote a book on this topic where he overwhelmingly discouraged the use of Z for certain reasons unless certain conditions were met. Can you give me a day to find these points then reconvene with you tomorrow morning?").

Confirmation with Greater Authority

Sometimes a decision sounds strange and unexpected. Often, the other party also finds the decision weird but they affirm that it is what their own superior demanded. In such cases, if the decision poses special risks, it may be worth checking in with the other party's superior while noting those risks in the confirmation request.

Recording for Accountability

Sometimes the other party will bluntly force their decision even though it carries heavy and unnecessary risks. In such cases where your extension requests are unsuccessful, you want to shield yourself from blame while keeping proof of fault to show the other party (in case they forget) or any other stakeholders (superiors, owners, investors, police) who emerge as interested parties in any ordeal that may take place.

You have two ways to conveniently prepare strong accountable records. You can ask the other party to write their decision on paper, send it to you by email, or take a brief video expounding their decision. This way forms the strongest proof but it depends on compliance from the other party. Alternatively, you can send them an email that summarizes the argument and notes that you will comply with the decision despite serious disagreement- on the condition that they accept full responsibility for the outcome. This is weaker proof because there are more avenues for excuses (ex. they can claim they never got this email and assumed you were in agreement with the decision), but it is effective because it is an action you can take independently after the argument takes place (whereas the dependent method is more easily done in the moment and socially harder to bring up as time passes).

Denial

Sometimes the decision affects a life-or-death or otherwise extremely serious matter. In such cases, it is correct to refuse compliance until appropriate safety measures and corrective solutions are implemented.

Based on a true story, a business owner may ask you to drive a truck with an expired vehicle registration. Making matters worse, a careless co-worker left illegal drugs in the truck that went undiscovered for weeks. If pulled over in the truck, you would face not only a traffic citation and hefty fines, but also a potential felony verdict with years of jail time and a permanent mark on your criminal record. In such a case, it is correct to refuse driving the truck until its registration is renewed and insides inspected/cleaned up.