I dunno. What do you wanna do?

Liz Sumner Decision-making, Progress 2 Comments

I was commiserating with a client recently about a tendency to wait around until others decide what to do before determining what it is that I want. 

This default to passivity isn’t a kindness. While it may look like I’m being gracious and letting the other person get what he or she wants, it’s actually a shirking of responsibility and could lead to resentment. 

I like to believe there’s a way for everyone to get what he or she desires. The key is to put your preferences out in the open and see what’s there. This requires everyone to be honest and forthright, and not be afraid of being pushy or bulldozed. No small order.

I remember a system my sister and her husband invented and used successfully many years ago. I’ll call it the Preference Rating System and it goes like this.

Say you’re trying to decide what to do for dinner. You express your thoughts on a scale from 1 to 10, off the top of your head, without thinking too hard about it. 

A: “I’m a 5 for Chinese since we had it recently. I’d say I’m an 8 for Mexican.”

B: “Well I’m a 9 for having someone else cook but a 3 for getting up and going out. Maybe something delivered?”

Or another example:

A: I’m an 8 for having you go shopping with me. Will you come with?

B: I’m a 2 for shopping but a 9 for giving you what you want since you helped me with that project so when do we leave?

The numbers give you a way of establishing how intense the preference is. Granted, you need to establish some understanding so that your rating scales are calibrated equivalently. And you need a willingness to play. Some partners (who shall remain nameless) don’t like the game-y-ness of it. But when used well it adds useful data to the decision-making process.

Of course some decisions require a more in-depth discussion. But if you’re looking for a simple method to uncover and communicate how intensely you feel about something consider the Preference Rating System. I’ll give it an 8.5.

Comments 2

  1. When it comes to food and eating out decisions, which was just a portion of this valuable post, I am the adventurous diner’s nightmare. I like to go to the same places over and over and over again. It drives my sister a little crazy. For me a meal is a taste, and a taste I can anticipate and find delicious familiarity in beats a meal that is “interesting” but lacks the applause from the taste buds. So, while I don’t have a reserved seat at any of my favorite eateries, there are several where the host smiles and says “Welcome back.”

    On the finding subject, finding a workable solution, I liked the option of laying it out with numbers, though I suspect there is a learning curve involved. With friends and family, those whom I see regularly, we do a lot of turn taking, and the meal (for me) takes second place to being with that person. In fact, that’s how I discovered crab cakes. A friend wanted to go to a restaurant renowned for its sea food. I don’t generally “do” seafood, but I noted the crabcakes on the menu and leapt into the unknown. They were completely delectable and kept me returning until the price got too high.

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