May 2008

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True story, I have a friend who is a heating ventilation and cooling guy. They worked on a large office for a major client. The room was a single zone and the thermostat was up front by the boss's office. The employees at the back of the office constantly complained that it was too hot or too cold. My friend spent a month trying to balance the system to make everyone happy, without success.

At the end of the month he "installed' a second thermostat at the back of the office. The second thermostat was a prop but he heard no further complaints.

Steve Harold - London Hypnotherapist

I am all for choice. Certainly in the context you place it, it sounds like self-responsibility, rather than being led by someone else, is much more enjoyable and empowering.


I actually proposed to my wife by giving her a choice: I was saving money for her engagement ring, but told her I had a good opportunity to take her to england for two weeks, but couldn't afford to do both. She opted for the trip to London. I could tell she was nervous for the rest of the evening. I let her hang for a few hours before saying, "I guess I should have asked if you wanted to get married." I laughed, she hit me. We just celebrated our anniversay.

We developed a system for making decisions by a coin flip. We have two options, assign one to heads and one to tails then flip a coin. I catch the coin and ask which she wants without looking at the result. Even when we absolutely could not make a choice before, we know which side we wanted the moment the coin leaves my hand. In the years we have been doing this, I have never had to look at the result of the flip.


I noticed this when I worked in a yarn store. Given the choice of a full range of colours in a particular yarn, the blue would always sell the best by far. Limit the range to three or four colours and people would complain, even if they were the colours that everyone had wanted anyways.


I'd most definitely take the "finest restaurant" choice if eating there wasn't mandatory.

The ability to blow it off and eat a cheeseburger at my own expense, if that were more convenient, would be plenty of choice. Being "forced" to spend 2 nights a week at the whim of a genie would suck.


Ha. You just illustrated how I get my young kids to do what I want them to. I always give them a choice so they feel "big" about what they're doing, but both choices result in doing what I want them to do. It's pure genius to watch them confidently decide to do one of them and FEEL good about it.


I won a game of scrable this way the other night. I put down a word that sounded good. It was part of other words. But the other guy wasn't sure and considered challenging me. I gave him his choices. which included losing his turn if he challenged and was wrong. He couldn't handle that aspect/consequense so he let the word pass. It ended up not being a word, and I later won the game.

Cool huh. Making a person look past the decision sometimes helps

kiwi chick

[So I do a draft of EXACTLY what the client asked for... badly. At the same time, I mock up my idea... extremely well.]

...and of course they choose the well executed option; who wouldn't? But that is hardly a fair choice is it? Have you ever mocked up both options well, to see if they fairly choose yours over their own, or are you always an arrogant wanker? (see, freedom of choice is a wonderful thing!)

João Parreira

Scott, you might want to check this video:

It's about the paradox of choice. Having the power to choose might make you more unhappy than if you had no possible choice.

But I liked your post. It's interesting how we can influence people by giving them the right choices.

Bruce Hoult

That is such an old and well known seduction technique that I can't believe Scott doesn't know the joke:

Him: How do you like your eggs in the morning?
Her: Unfertilized.


My ex-boyfriend says he hates making decision, but the truth is that he hates being wrong about the decision he makes.
He asked me to choose everything for him. We can never order anything at a restaurant within 30 minutes. Food court is worse, you get to choose the store AND the items.
It's fine if I really have the decisive power. In reality, he made up excuses to reject my choices. So it is always his decision at the end by elimination. I notice this a lot with people who says they hate making decisions.
So I agree with you. People enjoy having choices, including the choice of having someone else choose for them.


Then why don't you get decision paralysis at the Cheesecake factory?


Adams, you not only think way out of the box, you have a sick mind.

Thats a good thing---


It's more than just rational to let someone to choose for you - it is a lot easier. Rarely a day comes by that my wife utters these words: "Do I have to worry and decide everything?"

And I'm no help there because I'm easily satisfied: feed me, give me shelter and a two hours a day for myself (and myself alone) and I'm fine...

But I know what you're talking about. And I still remember your post about who's right or wrong in a relationship - it's working wonders for me (if I don't count my wife's words above)...


That breakfast line has got to be the most presumptuous thing I've ever heard. That actually works?

I can't stand this whole technique: you can smell it coming a mile away, and that kind of manipulation would get an instant "no sale" from me no matter how enticing the offer was.


A clever person might find a way to get a little of both worlds. Notice the caveat "when you're not already booked". I'm imagining a schedule like such:

Mon, lunchtime: Watch Daily Show TiVo-ed night before
Tue, lunchtime: "
Wed, lunchtime: "
Thur, lunchtime: "
Fri, lunchtime: ?

Mon, dinnertime: Organize DVD collection
Tue, dinnertime: Pick lint out of bellybutton
Wed, dinnertime: ?



You're getting at the root of politics. It's all about convincing people that they are making choices and have some control, basically dispelling cognitive dissonance that they're actually being controlled.

Here's option A and why it sux less than option B. You decide. You're in control!

Glenn Santos

Ah, so this is why every time I want to buy something, I get to the store really hyped up. But by the time I'm about to hand over the money for the stuff, I feel like I don't want it as much (or even want it a all).

Commitment monkeys. Go figure.

Henrik N

Not going to read all those comments, so perhaps someone said already, but:

A clever way of making someone do something they'd rather not, e.g. a household chore, is to cast it as a choice between that chore and a worse one (implying someone else will do the chore they reject).

So rather than "Could you please take out the trash?", one might be more successful with "Do you want to take out the trash or scrub the toilet?"



In the sales biz, that's called an "assumptive close." It's one of four famous "trick" ways to close a sale. The other are:

- the "flyfish close" ("if you purchase today, I can give you a 15% discount")

- the "puppydog close" ("take this home for free and we'll only charge you if you don't return it")

- and the "reverse close ("is there any reason why you won't do business with my firm?")

Trick closes only work with very stupid people because anybody with an ounce of sense sees a trick close coming a mile away. They're pretty much only used on home shopping networks.

Here's a pretty good discussion of the issue:


This is the concept behind the movie ANTZ. The closing line goes something like "I ended up exactly where I started, but this time I chose so".

Tom Gao

2 words - real options. Any rational individual exercising common sense would understand their value.

Maybe somebody has already made the same summation but I'm not going to read through a labyrinthine of comments to check. Cheers!


"For people who say they hate making decisions, they don't hate having the OPTION of making decisions."

Well, you always have the OPTION of deciding. It's just that certain choices have serious consequences.

I.e., the firing squad.


"Would ANYONE have chosen the best restaurants from the genie over the good restaurants, ever?"

Did you ever have one of _those_ girlfriends? If they hear the word "finest" then that's what they want, no matter what the cost or inconvenience.


I would go for the finest restaurant option, then hypnotise the genie so that he/she (preferably she, resembling Jeannie) would choose the restaurant I wanted :P

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