A few years back when I was living in Darwin, my master coach came up to co-facilitate a workshop with me and another colleague and we decided to catch up for dinner one evening. We had originally talked about eating at one particular restaurant, and when I went to pick him up I said that we could still go to that restaurant, or if he wanted to we could go to another which was equally lovely and on the waterfront. His reply was surprising. He said he has observed that when a person makes a suggestion with two options given, what they really want to do is the second one they present, so he said with that in mind, he would go with my second suggestion. We went there and had a lovely evening.
At the time I thought it was an interesting observation but wasn’t sure that I completely agreed with him.
It appears that he was right.
Now when I am presented with two choices by another person, I look at both suggestions and realise that the reality is that what they really want is for me to choose option two. I also realised that I do the same thing when making suggestions to others.
Why? I have no idea to be honest, perhaps by suggesting the option that is most favourable to us second, we are unconsciously ‘closing the deal’ with that sentence and somehow emphasising it more than the first option. So here is how it might play out. “Would you still like to go out for dinner, or shall we stay in and I can cook you something at home?” Without even hearing my voice or having the benefit of eye contact, emotion, body language and voice tone, you can tell that what I’m really looking for is to stay in and have dinner at home.
Today we were heading out for a massage and late lunch, which was to be followed by a long walk, after a particularly delicious lazy morning and as we were leaving, hubby said to me “did you still want to go for a walk – or???” We didn’t go for a walk. I could tell he didn’t really feel like it and as we had been so lazy all morning, I was happy to have a full day of laziness. We are on holidays after all.
So, the next time someone suggests something and gives you two options, or even three, pause for a minute and see whether you think they really want you to choose the last one. I bet you any money that they do. Also see if you can catch yourself when you are offering choices, and check if you do the same thing.
Aren’t we fascinating creatures?