Under pressure to do the wrong thing

We often feel pressure to make bad decisions, don't you think?

Most of the time when I blog I try to provide some insight into a particular challenge or situation. Not today. No, today I'm just going to put some situation on the table and invite you to share your insight by posting a comment. It could be that I'm trying to start some conversation on my blog or it could be that I have only a short amount of time to complete this post and I'm feeling a little pressure.


The other day I felt pressure to break the law and put myself in danger while stopped at a traffic light. I was at the front of a line of cars waiting to turn left. When the light turned green, the intersection wasn't clear, so I couldn't enter without stopping in the middle of the intersection. Unfortunately, the guy behind me didn't see it that way. He began honking, yelling, and gesturing at me to move forward.

I was engulfed with a strange sensation. Part of me felt the urge to enter the intersection to escape from this guy's incessant abuse, but I knew that would only put me in more danger. Part of me wanted to get out of my car and 'convince him' to knock it off, but I knew that idea was really unsafe.

Fortunately, the line of cars ahead of me soon moved forward and I was able to enter the intersection safely with no further incident.

It's strange how this happens in so many places, even at work.

This week I facilitated a two-day workshop at a large technology company. Most of the building where I worked was secured by electronically locked doors that required a key card to open them. Despite these obvious security precautions, most people were very willing to pause and hold the door open for me. Even though I was a complete stranger, the social awkwardness of demanding to see someone's credentials pressured people into an obvious security breach time and time again.

Examples like this abound at work. Employees disobey safety rules because they feel pressure to work faster or safety feels 'uncool' in front of their colleagues. Managers fail to properly train and supervise their employees because they feel pressure to spend most of their day in unproductive meetings or responding to hundreds of emails. Executives pressure their managers and employees to cut corners because they are under pressure from stockholders to maximize short-term profitability.

What can we do to overcome this pressure? I have a few ideas, but I'd much rather hear yours. Please leave your comments or share a resource.