Applying for a position, where drug testing is involved: using Option Solving?

A friend recently shared her son’s predicament as he went through the final stages of securing an important internship, having recently completed graduate studies. He had to submit to a drug test, which involved the increased accuracy of using hair samples. The drug, although not deemed particularly toxic or harmful, since thousands of people use it, may affect the outcome of his internship. I introduced her to the concept of option solving, so that she could then share it with him to make an optimum decision on how to handle the situation.

So her immediate task was to develop an appropriate rational question, which, after due thought on her part, proved to be: “What is my son’s best option in securing an internship, where drug testing is involved; considering 1) he has been taking one when needed for many years; 2) the test includes hair samples; 3) employers cannot discriminate against prescribed drug usage; and 4) the internship is much in line with his career aspirations?” The four considerations totaled around 50% of the most important ones she listed, so as not to over-complicate matters..

I now challenged her to come up with two framing yin and yang “bookends” – see our worked example – which would form the basis of her son’s least likely options. These were, “Just sit on it” and “Go out, get drunk and hope for the best.” As our Latest Example demonstrates, you’ll see why these two bookends were not particularly workable.

With these bookends now in place, she was quickly inspired to identify at least five alternative, practical options; although she did, in fact, come up with six. One of her options was: “Option E- Be honest and inform new boss of situation.” I advised her to encourage her son to come up with one or more additional options before he made any choice, if he had any. This would increase his participation and ultimate commitment.

Then he should be encouraged to turn their joint “pictogram” over, so that his “intuitive mind” could mull over his alternative options through an activity called emotional distancing, for 30 mins. or more. Such an activity would aid his objectivity.

After emotional distancing he should quickly review the pictogram and make his choice. Even though it might not be a perfect choice, he should figure out the related steps as far as he can, then and there, while it’s all still fresh in his mind. That way he will produce the best game plan.

If you have an example of your own, please share it with this blogger, through the COMMENTS area. Thanks Option Solving. (NOTE: Next posting in 2 weeks: “How to productively spend time between year-end holidays?” Let’s have your COMMENTS or go to peter@ to connect with the blogger. Also consider buying the book: “Smart Decisions: Goodbye Problems, Hello Options.”)


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