Jan 292013 7 Responses

Are You Brilliant or a Sucker?

In their book Crucial Conversations, authors Patterson, Grenny, McMillian, and Switzler warn about the sucker’s choice. It is the false assumption that there are only two options to solve a problem.

It is the classic either/or.

Generally, both choices are bad because neither will appease all parties. Having only two options, spouses, co-workers, or friends choose their sides and then fight for their choice.

The result is conflict.

Instead of working together to negotiate a solution, two partners become adversaries believing the other stands in the way of a resolution. For progress to be made, one person or party must be defeated, a winner and loser must be declared.

Winning and losing is an effective dichotomy on a playing field, but its dangerous in a bedroom, its less than ideal in a boardroom, and it can be destructive for a country.

Very rarely should options be narrowed to two. Nearly always, there are more choices—options that don’t demand a winner and a loser, ideas which might call for compromise but can also lead to joint satisfaction. The challenge is to identify other opportunities.

By brainstorming more alternatives, adversaries become partners working together to find solutions instead of fighting against one another for their way.

Every time we face an either/or scenario, our first task should not be to take a side but to brainstorm other alternatives.

Anytime we believe our greatest problem is another person, we have likely fallen for the sucker’s choice. Whenever we think there is one obvious answer to a problem, we have likely fallen for the sucker’s choice. Life is rarely simple. Solutions are rarely perfect. We are never 100% right.

Only suckers believe they are absolutely right, another person is absolutely wrong, a complex problem is obvious, and if the other person would submit to us everything would be perfect.

In what area of life are you being a sucker?

How has America fallen for the sucker’s choice in gun control? In the fiscal cliff? In politics?

How have you fallen for the sucker’s choice in parenting? In your marriage?



7 Responses to Are You Brilliant or a Sucker?
  1. […] 3. Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Grenny, McMillian, and Switzler Communication is one of my f... https://www.kevinathompson.com/my-5-favorite-books

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