One question to clear the haze of a difficult decision
July 14, 2014
Earlier today I was speaking with the mechanic of the authorised dealer for my car. It had to be sent for repairs as the starter motor was working intermittently. It is an 8-year old car so you would expect these things to happen. He laid out the options for me: I could replace it with a brand new starter motor and that would cost me $990, or fit a reconditioned (second hand) motor for $730. Labour costs will be $190. He asked which option I would like.
"Neither!" I answered. "I only have two more years on the car so why would I want to go brand new? But how can the reconditioned part be almost as expensive as a brand new one?"
"Well, Mr Dyason, you see, we offer a one-year warranty on our parts, new or reconditioned."
"That doesn't answer my question! Listen, do you think I only had these options? After all, I could easily take my car, turn into the nearest workshop next to yours, and get a damnside cheaper option than yours."
"Yes, but you know, we are authorised. And we use genuine parts. Even the recond parts are genuine. And we have a one-year warranty on it."
Hmm, looks like I needed to do a little negotiation here. So I took a different tack. "Listen, if this situation was now happening to your best friend, what would you advise him to do?"
Pause. Then a sheepish answer, "I'd tell him to go to the alternate workshop."
"There you are! And why would you advise such a thing?"
"Because they will be able to get the recond part much cheaper!"
"So, now Mr Mechanic. Do you want to do my business or not? I can certainly just take the car and drive 100 metres to another workshop, but I don't want to do that. Please help me out here. Can you come off the price of the recond motor?"
"Let me come back to you."
When he called back, the recond part was offered at $530 with a one-year warranty. And labour will be a little less. I collect my car tomorrow.
Can you see the impact of this simple question? "What would you advise your best friend?" is a great question because
(1) you shift your perspective from being part of the problem to part of the solution;
(2) you will offer the best option, oftentimes in spite of its impact on you because you're looking out for your best friend, and
(3) we set aside our short-term emotions (if any) and deal with the situation at hand
Many of our decisions are blinkered by assumptions and we seldom question them. We may sometimes also be affected by emotions that prevent us from seeing the situation clearly. By asking "What would you advise your best friend?" you pull yourself away from the situation, mitigating those emotions and parting the haze to reveal the best option for you.
So, the next time you find yourself arguing for why your solution is better, ask yourself this simple question, "What advice would I give my best friend?" It may well help you land onto the right decision.