Tolerance for ambiguity
Tolerance for ambiguity is the ability to deal with ambiguous situations in a sensible and calm way.2 It’s context-dependent—meaning that the same situation may be ambiguous in one setting and not in another. For example, the manager of an Olive Garden restaurant may know exactly what to do if someone calls and asks if the restaurant can set aside enough tables for a group of 30 people at 7:00 p.m. that evening. The owner-manager of a new restaurant may have never had that request before and may have to stop and think about what to do. The manager might think, “I’d love to seat 30 people at the same time, but what will the people who have already waited 30 minutes for a table think if a large group walks in and is seated right away?” These types of dilemmas face the owners of new businesses frequently because the businesses are new and are still establishing their policies and procedures. Business owners with a high tolerance for ambiguity can normally handle new and uncertain situations with relative ease, while business owners with a low tolerance for ambiguity would handle the same situations with more angst and unease.