It started as a routine experience. I placed my two items on the conveyor belt. The cashier rung me up. I paid for my lunch and left.
There was one difference this time.
The price seemed a bit off. Not by a lot but just enough to raise an eyebrow. I got back to my office ten minutes later. The nagging curiosity lingered. I took out the receipt and found out why.
I bought a bag of cashews. They charged me an extra $2 over the advertised price.
“Scumbags.” That was my initial thought though I’m sure it was unintentional.
This put me in a dilemma. I can go back to the store and ask them to fix it. It’s a ten-minute walk each way plus another five to ten minutes for them to straighten everything out. I figured it would take a half hour of my time. Is it worth it to recoup two dollars?
On the other hand, if I do nothing what kind of message does that send to my delicate unconscious mind? Allowing them to take advantage of me like that.
That’s the problem with dilemmas. They force you to choose between two distasteful options.
Dilemma — A situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially equally undesirable ones
Redefining The Dilemma
So, what did I do?
It’s simple in theory but difficult in practice. You find another option, one that is less undesirable.
What kind of solution would eliminate the negative aspects of both solutions?
That question revealed the answer. It satisfies my need to set things right while respecting the value of my time.
Save the receipt. Get the refund the next time I am back at the store.
I pinned the receipt to a board above my desk. This will remind me to take action next week.
What do you do when you find yourself in this situation? You’re faced with a problem. All of the solutions suck. What do you do?
It happens more often than you think. Consider these examples.
This health regimen will solve my chronic pain issue but it will also put me in debt.
This relationship advice may save my marriage but it forces me to admit embarrassing failures.
Selling this prospect on a new contract will get me a promotion but it will cause resentment among my peers.
When faced with a dilemma we freeze. Inaction is the usual course of action.
To avoid that result you need to redefine the solution? A pen, paper and ten minutes of your time might yield a solution that solves the problem and avoids the secondary problem.
What kind of solution can I design that eliminates the negative aspects of existing solutions?
It’s an important question to ask before any sales or marketing campaign.
Does my solution cause another problem — one that is just as bad as the problem I solve?
Before You Go…
I write about marketing, creativity and writing. I’m giving away guides on creativity, bullet writing and more. Click here to get yours. Connect with me on Twitter or linkedIn. P.S. — Click “clap” below. It helps others find this story.