“If there is one life skill everyone on the planet needs, it is the ability to think with critical objectivity.”Henry David Thoreau
Your military spouse group has raised money for local charities, but now can’t decide which charitable organizations should receive the money. There are several proposals on the table, but there is no consensus. As the senior military spouse, how can you help resolve this?
Military spouse groups will from time to time face issues and disagreement, and senior military spouses should be available to assist in resolving these conflicts. Conflicts left unresolved may cause dissension and can threaten the cohesiveness of the group. In part two of this blog series, I defined leadership as motivating others to achieve a common purpose.
A key component of leadership is the ability to problem solve through critical thinking.
What is critical thinking? The Oxford Dictionary defines critical thinking as the “objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment.” Critical thinking helps to analyze and evaluate information and provides the best opportunity to reach the correct decision. As senior spouses, we need critical thinking skills to effectively lead, as it will produce more effective results.
A key to critical thinking is ensuring we don’t jump to conclusions. Take your time and gather the facts, analyze the facts in a logical manner, and always keep an open mind during the process.
Going back to the scenario in the first paragraph, ask the spouses questions about each of the proposals to gather the facts. Have someone write down the answers.
- How will each charitable organization use the money?
- Who will benefit from the money?
- Does the organization have ties to the military and local installations?
Next, take the answers and organize them so you can evaluate the facts in a logical manner. To help evaluate the facts, look back, for example, at the original intent of the fundraising. What were the fundraising goals? Do any of the missions of the charitable organizations better meet the original fundraising goals? Ensure that the group is not unnecessarily restricting solutions to only a couple of choices. Are there other solutions not yet proposed which may be a better fit?
Finally, encourage all involved to keep an open mind throughout the process. Be open to alternative solutions and consider other possibilities, and don’t be afraid to consider newly presented information. Now that you have completed the steps above, discuss the findings with the group and see if there is better consensus on what to do with the money. If all seem like viable options, consider splitting the money among charitable organizations.
To wrap up part three of this blog series (part 1, part 2), as senior military spouses, use critical thinking to help resolve issues. When you are faced with a group who cannot reach consensus, talk through the issues with the group using critical thinking and the ideas discussed in this blog. The discussion itself is often the most important part of reaching a decision. If everyone feels as though their position was heard, it will be easier for them to get behind an ultimate decision with which they do not necessarily fully agree. This will help to resolve issues that otherwise may cause disagreement and threaten the unity of the group.
Kerry L. Erisman is a military spouse, Dad of two awesome teenage boys, Army retiree after 28 years of active duty service, attorney, and Associate Professor with American Military University. He writes and teaches on important military spouse issues including leadership, critical thinking, and education.