One of two bad things can happen after they say “yes.”
“Geez I shouldn’t bought that jewelry. I could have used that for school or to give to the kids as a gift. I’ll take it back in the morning.”
Option attachment is the phenomenon where the declined choice grows more desirable after you have chosen something else.
Imagine you’ve put a great detail of thought, careful comparison and tons of homework into a big decision.
You finally decide to choose X instead of Y. You experience relief. But then something happens that might change the course of your future with your decision. You signed the purchase agreement on the house. As soon as you put the offer down on the new house, two things happen simultaneously in your brain. You begin to have competing thoughts about your agreement.
The first results in the behavior of justification. Over and over you prove to yourself all the reasons for picking this house above all others was the right choice.
The second line of thinking you experience is a paradoxical response. It nags you. You instantly question your sanity about your decision.
What’s interesting is that you are not likely to actually tell anyone about these feelings. They will think you are nuts if you have just bought an expensive house and then 8 hours later you’re wondering if you aren’t just crazy for making the decision.
What you don’t know is that everyone is just like you when it comes to complex or difficult decisions where you have pitted A against B or X against Y. You carefully analyzed, contrasted, compared, made your decision and then you feel this!
Unfortunately the nagging doesn’t generally go away. In some cases it will stay for years or the rest of of your life! Today you find out how (and why) these things will dramatically reduce your income, screw up your relationships and cause you to experience all kinds of problems if you continue as you have.
When influencing others you need to know how to stop others from feeling remorse, regret and this bizarre thing called Option Attachment.
Your goal? Keep the relationship, make a customer or client evangelical, and cause people to be ecstatic that they have said “yes” to you.
The first step?
There she is.
She has a choice between two good options. This is what option attachment is all about. Things aren’t always as easy as competing against an obviously poor choice.
The girl has a couple of guys very interested and she’s ready to commit to someone. She’s been on the fence long enough.
Guy #1 is attractive. Quiet. Not that sharp. Not an idiot. Goes hunting and fishing whenever he can. Plays pool out of season. Knows a lot of people especially from the bar and hunting. Average income. Doesn’t spend a lot of time at the house. Survives the job.
She thinks if she “picks” him, she’ll have time for herself, time with her girlfriends, and probably only an occasional party at the house with all of his friends over. Not a bad deal. And the freedom will be nice. Perhaps ideal. The lack of income will be a drawback but so what. It’s not like he hates his job.
Guy #2 is also attractive. Sharp as a tack. Doesn’t go play with boys. He has a few close friends that come over to the house fairly regularly. He likes to be at home. Has a high income. Likes his work.
She thinks that means he’ll be home with her a lot. They’d spend lots of time together. They’d have lots of time to get to know each other. There would be plenty of time for playing, talking, and so on. Nice not have to worry about money. Just able to have no major stress there is very good and he actually likes his work.
What does she do? And what happens to her FEELINGS about her decision and the good guy she leaves behind?
She ponders the dilemma every day for weeks. Months. No matter who she chooses, one thing is certain although she is currently oblivious to this fact: As soon as she chooses, the OTHER guy will appear to be a MUCH better choice than he appeared just days ago!
You’d think that she’d feel GOOD about her decision. Relieved. Happy. Comfortable.
The opposite is the case. She’s torn inside. She thought she’d feel relieved. Externally, her behavior is always the same. The projection of certainty about the decision that has been made. Internally it’s an entirely different story.
And this is what happens with your customers when they think about your product or service.
You’ve never been shown this information by anyone anywhere in the world of pscyhology, marketing or sales. So I will.
Of course you’ll want to observe carefully to learn how to overcome it!
Here you go!
She has FINALLY made a choice, and now she feels that the guy she turned away was actually BETTER than she ever thought.
Option attachment has set in.
Think about this sentence: Your customer who thinks too long will feel that CHOOSING IS LOSING!
To some degree that is true. It’s human nature to want as many choices as possible. It’s human nature to not want to have choices taken away from us as they limit our freedom to choose! Therefore when whittling a myriad of choices down to ONE choice the person can hardly feel anything other than loss.
Not a good thing.
This post choice option attachment is NOT the same as buyer’s remorse OR even regret. (I’ll come back to this later.)
No matter WHAT the outcome of the choice, the woman (even if her guy is nice, treats her well, she likes him and vice versa…and so on) the OTHER guy looks better than he did immediately before making the choice.
This is true in buying cars, making investments and just about everything else in life. The reduction of choices that were experienced is the same as losing freedom.
And you can imagine the trouble that can come….
The woman has, for months, thought and thought about her decision. And this is indeed one of the core elements of the problem. The more someone has possessed something in their mind (imagination) or in real life (an actual external physical experience) the more they will be feel disappointed when they realize they have let that other option go.
The woman is now imagining the guy she dumped as far more attractive than she ever thought! Her emotional response, her feelings inside, are proving to her that she may have made a mistake!
And just what is this feeling she feels?
She feels loss because she possessed both internally for a great deal of time. Think of the feeling you get when someone you love dies or a pet dies. It’s in that arena.
Research studies show that it doesn’t make that much difference as to whether our woman friend has imagined these two relationships in detail or experienced them both. When she chooses Guy #1, Guy #2 becomes more valuable in her mind.
It makes no difference whether any of this is logical or not. Obviously (?) she isn’t going to end up with both guys. And remember, the guy she chose turns out to be a good choice!
But it doesn’t matter. The other guy still looks much better than he ever did because she owned him in her mind and maybe in reality for MONTHS.
Now she has lost him because of her decision.
Her feelings today reveal that her other guy option was better than she had thought. And it’s “proven” by her feelings.
The other factor in the potency of the disappointment and feeling of loss?
The degree to which she was attached to the other guy in her mind in the deliberation stage of her decision.
The scenario above is one that makes it easy to understand the concept of option attachment and sheds great light on some facts that you must know to retain customers and make decisions easier for your prospective customers:
- Do not allow time for your customer to develop a sense of attachment or ownership in the deliberation stage. The deliberation should be fast. The sense of loss will happen if you don’t.
- If you must explore more than one option with your client, then rapidly move the client from the option that is the poorer choice to the option that is the better choice. Do NOT let the person begin to feel a sense of connection with an option that they will not ultimately get. Discuss an option then make it obvious why it needs to be dismissed…and dismiss it.
Of course there is much more about option attachment that costs you thousands of dollars per year in business…and yes…in the coming months I’ll have much more to share with you about option attachment…and how it will impact you!
For now you can see why time matters when proposing or presenting. The longer apples is compared to oranges the more viable both options are. The more viable both options are the more likely the person will have experienced ownership in their mind. The longer they have experienced ownership in their mind, the greater the attachment.
And it is that great attachment that must be avoided if you are suggesting apples and someone else is suggesting oranges!