We make a lot of decision in everyday life: sometimes they’re almost unconscious or sudden, but sometimes decision making can be a longer and more difficult process, and it involves emotional engagement.

In order to simplify, we can define decision as a choice of an individual or a team to make an action in a group of possible options. Many sciences and disciplines studied it. The concept of choice recalls the one of freedom. We can call it decision if the individual has a number of options: a forced choice, with no alternative, is not a decision.

A decision is usually made in order to solve a problem. In psychology, there’s a difference between decision making and problem solving. When we solve problems, our choice is driven by our goal; when we make a decision, our choice is made after finding the best alternative among a number of options.

Decision making can be considered as the result of cognitive and emotive process from which a choice derives, and a way is found among the possible options.

In this clip from “The Children Act“, Emma Thompson plays a judge who has to make a difficult decision about a surgery for the separation of two Siamese twins. What should she do? Should she authorize the surgery against parents’ will thus letting one of the children die? Shouldn’t she authorize it, thus letting both of the twins die? Should she intervene on what nature or God created or not?

In this difficult decision, both reason, i.e. what Law foresees in this case, and emotion, heart, play a role. The judge is doubtful, cannot decide, studies the case, collects information and testimony and, in a short time, has to make a difficult choice and render a verdict. Her decision will have an influence on twins’, parents’ and their loved ones’ life. Her decision, as it happens in our life and company, will not be shared or accepted by everyone.

How much does she feel lonely because of that? How much would it be useful to share difficult decision for decision itself and for the one who as responsibility for the final choice?

Dale Carnegie says: “Do the very best you can: and then put up your old umbrella and keep the rain of criticism from running down the back of your neck”; maybe he means that the more we are aware of the criteria we used to decide, the more it’s easy to be invulnerable to unfair criticism. And that’s what judge Fiona Maye tries to do in the movie.


Cristiana Genta

Buy the film


“The Children Act“ A film by Richard Eyre, Emma Thompson USA 2017

Buy the recommended book


“Training in Interpersonal Skills: TIPS for Managing People at Work” by Stephen P. Robbins


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