It’s the best deal, so just take it.
The woman hobbled up to the counter with 4 books in her arms, each cost a dollar. I was working the cash register and wanted to help her so I said “You know you can get 10 books for $5, right?”
“You have to upsell. I get it, but all I want are these 4 books.” I was a little confused.
“I don’t have to upsell, it’s just $1 dollar more for twice as many books. It’s a way better deal.” I honestly thought I was helping her. We argued about it. After an extended, confusing and frustrating conversation, she left with the four books she wanted. I couldn’t understand it at all.
What’s her problem?
The interaction left me agitated. Why wouldn’t she just take the better deal? What was wrong with her? Why was she being so unreasonable? Did she just not understand or what? Over time I’ve come to realize we simply had different values. Now the real question is, why was I trying to impose my values on her?
We’ve all been guilty of imposing our values on others at one time or another, but it doesn’t seem to do much good. The more we try to force others to share our values, the more disjointed and broken our bonds become. Instead of forcing them into our mold, we have much to gain by simply understanding their view of the world. Here are three reasons against trying to impose your values on others.
1. It can make them feel like you don’t understand them or care to.
Look at my new blue car. You should have gotten green. Never mind that their favorite color is blue. You think green is better and that’s what matters. Or does it? The more you push one of your values, the more marginalized the other person will feel.
By the end of our conversation, the lady from the book store left frustrated. She explained multiple times that she didn’t want more books – those were the ones she wanted. Instead of trying to understand her values, I just kept asking her to change her mind. I’m sure it was a negative experience and I never saw her again.
Would you keep interacting with someone who doesn’t listen to your values and tells you what you want? Probably not. It feels like they’re trying to steal your autonomy and control. No one wants to be pushed around.
2. It’s not an effective strategy to change minds or behavior.
If you truly want a chance at persuading someone, you must first demonstrate understanding of their position. Otherwise, how will they know you’re even on the same page? The woman in the example told me her preferences, but I ignored them. I thought pressing onward would change her mind and eventually she would find out I was right.
The more I pushed her in one direction, the more tense the argument got. I tried to show different angles, thinking it would help. I even said, if I were you, I’d want more books at a better value. What a terrible argument! She’s a completely different person than I am, just because it’s what I would do doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for her. The more I pushed, the further I got from changing her decision.
3. Even If they give in, what does it do for you?
Cut your hair, babe. Cut your hair. On the 500th attempt, your significant other finally complies with the request, but what have you gained? A small victory in terms of your preferences, but at an almost certain cost to the relationship. You’ve communicated that your preferences are more important than theirs for something that belongs to them. This is not a solid foundation to build upon.
I’ve used a trivial example like cutting hair because these are exactly the type of issues individuals try to impose on others. If you can’t even get beyond the small issues, the heavier ones are going to be a real nightmare.
Other people shouldn’t need to adopt your values.
The real question is, why do other people have to act in a certain way for you to feel satisfied? If the lady bought those books, what would I have gotten from it? A moment of satisfaction in ‘being right’. What would she have gotten? An awkward, pressured feeling. Trying to force my values accomplished nothing meaningful. What’s the point? The harder you try to make someone else conform, the more damaged the relationship will be.
In closing, it’s far better to listen to people’s wants and desires and help them achieve those than to impose your own. Once you understand their wants, you can give them your best recommendation based on what they want. If you want to sway their opinion, you’ll need to prove you understand their thoughts before moving on. You might learn something you didn’t know. I hope that helps, best of luck!
ANSWER THE EXERCISE IN THE COMMENTS:
The next time you want someone to act a certain way, ask yourself why? Is it what you think is in their best interest? Have you factored in their desires and beliefs or only what you would do in the circumstance?
Think about how pushing your values on someone else will impact your relationships. Have you done this recently? How did it go?