Common sense is not so common and the older I get the more I realise this to be the case.

Of late, I am getting more and more frustrated about the lack of common sense amongst the young, and today I realised that perhaps I am being a tad unfair. Gen-Y are not apt at using common sense particularly when it comes to business. I find myself constantly pulling my hair out when I hear and see things that they do, because I just don't get it. I don't understand how something so basic can be forgotten, not thought about or completely ignored. 

But am I being unfair. Often its things that they have been trained on, and they just constantly forget a process or sometimes its just when a client or supplier asks a question that has an obvious answer (at least to me) and they just don't get it.

Ignoring my #24yrold and #24yroldblackguy (the latter is his own hash tag - not mine!), I find myself constantly getting irritated at the lack of common sense in the typical Gen-Y. They are the exception and I have never found myself to be having "the conversation" with them.

#24yrold says "you are born with it".

With lots of thought given to this problem as it seems to be the only issue I face in the office these days, I realise that perhaps its actually mine. In general, I have had 10 years to hone my skills to ensure that I think before I act, and based on experience, minimize errors. I cross all my "T's" and dot all of my "i's" - if you know what I mean.

The question is, what is common sense? To me it is not another kind of knowledge, nor is it a simple cognitive process or ability. My common sense tells me that is as complex as the factors inherent in a situation to which it may be applied.

Why common sense is hard to find

Common sense is a practical view and approach to a situation. It is how we deal with issues and problems, how we manage our own thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and how we cope with each other.

“Common sense is not so common.” ― VoltaireA Pocket Philosophical Dictionary

But common sense in the workplace is not just an issue for me, but for many bosses, colleagues and business leaders. Getting to the root of things, to ensure that you minimize over managing staff or bringing to their attention a "lack of common sense".

It's a common problem for TYPE - A personalities because we "expect" everyone to be like us - and then get frustrated when people miss the little things that make perfect sense to us.

I do think common sense is a two-way street. You have to work with employees to ensure that they have  been trained throughly in every step of their job, so that there is no excuse, and make sure it is practiced over and over again. Give them training exercises that push them to think outside the box and solve problems.

“Things do not change; we change.” ― Henry David Thoreau

But common sense is much more than problem solving.  It also involves taking a sensible perspective, having functional attitudes and beliefs,  being able to tackle a range of problems, getting on with people when it matters, grasping anothers’ perspective, knowing and using emotions appropriately, not losing sight of the goal, being flexible and adaptable with a sufficient range of behaviours to match the job.

“Don't find fault, find a remedy; anybody can complain” ― Henry Ford


Is there an answer to this conundrum? I am not so sure that there is an answer, and like many of my counterparts I believe that time can be the best solution for those who may lack it in their earlier lives, but through experience and a few 'hard knocks', find that they learn how to improve their ability to use common sense in a variety of different situations.

“Common sense is the most widely shared commodity in the world, for every man is convinced that he is well supplied with it.” ― René Descartes

Never one to let things fall to the way-side, I am now going to start working on my own techniques of coaching staff how to use common sense in all aspects of life and think before they act. Let's see how I go.



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Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert with more than 20 years experience. Having founded and built two successful marketing companies internationally, she is well recognized as a industry thought leader and innovator. Mellissah started her career working with technology and professional services firms, primarily in marketing, public relations and investor relations, positioning a number of successful companies to list on the various Stock Exchanges around the world. She is a writer, technology developer and entrepreneur who shares her thoughts and experiences through blogs and written articles published in various media outlets. Brag sheet: #2 marketer to follow on Twitter (2003), Top 150 Marketers to Follow (2015), Top 10 innovative marketers (2014), 60K+ followers on Twitter with 97% authentic.

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