Reality Check: Information in Action

Recently, I came across a near-magical convergence of two of my interests (that’s quality assurance and choice theory, of course.) The weekly quote on my favourite quality assurance website was a choice theory quote from Dr. Wm. Glasser!
Glasser said, “What we get, and all we ever get, from the outside is information; how we choose to act on this information is up to us.”
That’s useful to remember, whether we are providing information or on the receiving end. How might it help?
Think about how people sometimes get into conflict. One person tells another what to do and expects action as a result. Action doesn’t happen. Conflict results. Have you ever experienced that?
Marsha’s dad, Leo, drives her to the bus stop on his way to work. Marsha is always late, so Leo ends up speeding so she won’t miss the bus. Leo doesn’t like speeding, and is frustrated because Marsha “makes” him do it. Marsha, in turn, gets huffy about dad’s nagging.
Their interaction typically goes like this: While Marsha gets ready, Leo paces. He points out the time. “You only have 5 minutes! We have to leave at 8:00!”
Meanwhile, Marsha rethinks her outfit for the third time. She yells, “I know! I’m almost ready.” It’s not true, but it might keep him quiet.
Twenty minutes later, they are finally in the car. No one is happy.
Glasser says we’re only getting information. Nothing outside of us forces us to be frustrated, angry, or huffy. For that matter, nothing outside of us forces us to be cheerful, cooperative, or contented, either.
Leo’s information is that if they leave at 8:20, he’ll need to speed if they are to meet the bus. The information that Marsha has been receiving is that dad will do so.
Sometimes people don’t recognize their choices when responding to information. Leo has been choosing to speed to compensate for Marsha’s lateness, and then he chooses to be frustrated. However, he has options. He could choose not to speed.
If so, it will be helpful for Leo to offer information about the change. “Marsha, when we leave late, I have been speeding so you won’t miss your bus. I will no longer do that and risk a speeding ticket. I will leave at 8:00 and drive the speed limit. I will not nag you about the time. If you miss leaving with me, then you will have to find another way to school.”
Then, when Leo follows through, he may as well choose to be content regardless of Marsha’s action.
Of course, that’s just one choice among many. Leo could choose to accept that Marsha will be late. If so, he may as well also realize that acceptance is his choice, and choose to no longer be frustrated.
When people respond to information in ways other than what we think they “should,” we have choices. We can choose frustration, or not. We can clarify consequences, or not. And when an action has a natural consequence, we have the option of compensating for it. Or not.
How would you respond to this situation?

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