Who Holds The Veto On You?

I spent last Friday in London. Great place. I really must make a plan to spend at least part of the year there.

I was helping a friend and her team with a seminar.

There was a sell at the end but no hard sell. We only spoke to people if they wanted to be spoken to.  We were selling a programme that would show customers how to establish themselves in a business that my friend is expert in.  

The programme we were selling is genuinely great and definitely has the very real potential to be life-changing (for the better :-D).

But darling you don’t understand…

We made some good sales but there were an irritatingly high number of people who had given decision making authority over themselves to another.

They had given their bed partner a veto over their life choices.

Now, I am aware that saying “the wife/husband isn’t up for it” could just be an excuse. But remember, we were not selling. We only engaged them if they approached us.

So I suspect the bed partner is often the problem.

It’s hard..!

Listen. Life’s quite hard enough without handing a veto to your lover.  

(Just a word of caution here – if you are thinking of selling the house and putting the proceeds on Baseless Optimism in the 4-30 race at Redcar do not use this blog as your justification. You are, in fact, nuts and I am surprised you have a bed partner.)

I’m breathless…

Last year I worked with three businesses that were partnerships. Each had between three and five partners. All the partners had equal stature within the business and decision making was based on unanimity – all had to agree or nothing was agreed.

Each of these organisations was fond of telling me that their partnership was like a marriage. Yes. In two of the cases they got on like a house on fire – stuck inside together slowly suffocating.

They had effectively given the veto on all planning and progress to any partner who chose to use it. This means that the rate of progress is determined by the most cautious, the most risk averse, the most frightened and the most meek.

In sickness and health…

Where did this approach take them?

It took them to frustration. And bitterness. And bad behaviour. Yup – bad behaviour. And they’re grown-ups.  

Now these people had been “married” for some time.


Yet, I saw the beginnings of this on Friday, in younger people.

I saw individuals who had taken the initiative to come to an event, to stay to the end, to be sufficiently interested in the programme we were selling to approach us, and then to bail out after a call to the bed partner. (Damn those mobile phones.)

You looking at me..?

One of the big issues in psychology that determines how happy someone will be is how assertive they are. The passive, passive aggressive and the aggressive cannot be happy. They’re finished. Game over.   

Only the assertive can be happy.

Now being assertive is not about being a tough cookie or bombastic.

Being assertive is about sticking up for yourself and happily backing down in the face of a superior argument. But if no such argument exists, sticking to your guns.

If that’s OK with you…

I saw plenty of assertiveness on Friday. But I also saw plenty of people who had handed the veto to another. This is being passive. And passive loses. Eight days a week.

Be yourself…

We all have, or should have, others we need to bring with us. But bring them with you through assertion, not through “settling” or “meeting half-way” or “avoiding conflict”. That’s passive. 

Be yourself.

The phrase be yourself has become undervalued through casual use.

There are two key words within it –





2 Responses to Who Holds The Veto On You?

  1. Mark Jackson May 28, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    Hi Mark
    Good Post.

    I hear what you are saying about the Veto. In our business we come across this quite a lot ( we are a Will Writing and Estate Planning company) but in a different way.
    In our field it tends to be the woman in the relationship that makes the decisions about Wills etc as they have a desire to look after children and family members whereas men just cant be bothered – not my problem I’ll be dead! ( I know that sounds generic and sexist but unfortunately its the reality in most cases)

    I have seen lots of estate distributions that favour a woman’s side of the family as they are the ones being more assertive in these matters.

    On the other hand we have sold a mini franchise ( just like you were showing people an opportunity at your seminar) and its mostly men that come and show an interest in starting a business. They are full of enthusiasm at the seminar, say they want to go ahead and start and then when they have talked to their partner they are talked out of it – yes as you say they have been Vetoed.

    Having the strength of your own convictions is sometimes hard as its not always that simple, but to get on in life in any career or business you must be assertive if not you will be vetoed in many things that you want to do.

    I have personal experience of this having been in business for many years. My wife (love her to bits) is always the sceptical one but I have had to assert myself and choose the path I want, now this has not been easy and it does cause friction but doing what I believe to be right even against the nay sayers has proved to be the right thing in the long run.

    Don’t let the doubters, sceptics, vetoers put you off. If you believe things will work and you have solid evidence that it can then go for it – Assert yourself!

    But as Mark says if you are barking up the wrong tree be big enough to accept that you are wrong and move on.

    • Mark Nugent May 28, 2012 at 9:59 am #

      Thanks Mark. We just MUST be assertive. The friction caused by being assertive with a more sceptical party is nothing compared to the damage we do to our own psychology when we’re passive and give in.

      Sounds like you’ve got it right to me.

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