How to Make Decisions Together Without Ruining Your Relationship

dirty leather boots, how to make decisions together

(Plus a few of our favorite West Village haunts.)

Since becoming business partners, we’ve been on a crash course of learning how to accomplish things together. We’ve made a dizzying number of choices—everything from picking out paint colors to investing ½ a month’s rent in a custom spanking bench. But before we got all that done, we had to figure out how to make decisions together. 

Call it a scrum, a sprint, a mad dash, whatever you want—using collaborative momentum to push a project forward is astonishing. We’re lucky to work innately well together, but the process below helps us get through our to-do list without texting back-and-forth all day. It can be nice to mull in depth in person, but when you need to get things done, try Researcher & Decider.

The Roles (A Temporary Binary Dynamic)

It’s honestly a little bit of power exchange in the workflow; one person vets the logistics and the other makes a gut decision based on the information brought to the table. Making decisions like this accommodates the very real possibility that one of us is incredibly busy, but our projects still need to move ahead. By taking on two separate yet equally important roles, every choice we make together deepens our trust in one another. 

Researcher

The one who examines possibilities & presents options to the Decider.

Decider

The one who’s less involved but gets final say. Usually whomever is busier or knows less about the matter at hand. They get a fancy dramatic name so they feel invested in the process.

1. Determine the mission.

Get on the same page about what you want. By taking time to define the exact variable you want to solve for, you establish an actionable goal rather than wasting time working towards different objectives. Clarify exact requirements and restrictions (budget, location, time, emotional energy, etc).

IRL example: Where to meet our friends on Sunday? Must be: lower Manhattan, not too pricey, filled with babes, friendly to our vegetarian gal pals.

2. Choose Roles.

Don’t be weird about it, this is just for now and you can swap next time. Trust is built by doing shit like this together.

IRL: S is Decider because they’re on deadline and don’t have time to coordinate, M is Researcher because they like reading restaurant/bar reviews.

3. Assemble the options.

Researcher, go research. Return with 3-ish choices, all options you could truly stand behind. Set up a spread and explain the contrasts between them: $/$$/$$$, cheap/easy/perfect, highbrow/local/eccentric. 

IRL: Look up “queer + West Village + vegetarian + happy hour,” etc. Check out menus and think about what our friends like.

4. Present the Options.

Researcher, run through the options or send the Decider a SAT-style A/B/C/D text. If it’s a big deal decision, give a pros/cons list for each option. If it’s a minor matter of taste, shamelessly campaign for your favorites and talk about the “vibe” you get off each.

A. Cowgirl: a kitschy place to share Tex-Mex nachos.
B. Corner Bistro: a greasy NYC classic, fuck the veggies let’s get burgers.
C. Westville: a basic new American place that will make us feel posh.
D. Cubbyhole: a lesbian bar where we can order in pizza.

5. Make the Decision

Decider, do it. Make your choice based off of the facts presented or the enthusiasm with which the Researcher speaks about each one. Execute. Done! ***For bigger choices, both parties must always triple-check pricing, delivery date, measurements, materials, etc.***

D. is for duh, we choose Cubby as always, as if we would ever end up anywhere else! Catch us there at least once a week, bumping our heads on the ceiling decorations & simping for all the bartenders.

Final Caveat:

This sounds stupidly simple but it works if you do it as described above. No back-and-forth (unless there’s new data to inform the mission at hand), just trust in one another. Trust in the options your partner recommends, trust in your communication together, trust in your partner’s final assessment. Swap roles often to share liability and grow from one another’s taste. Learning how to make decisions together as a team leads to adventures you’d never find alone.

Wishing you good luck & mostly good choices,
S + M

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