In the movie “Patriot Games,” based on the book of the same name by Tom Clancy, there is a scene where the Ryan family is busy getting ready for the day. They are making and eating breakfast in the kitchen. The little girl, Sally played by Thora Birch, wants pancakes. Her dad, Jack Ryan, played by Harrison Ford, gives her a choice of “toast or toast.” I thought it was funny in the parameters of the movie…… but when put into real life….. It’s not a choice if there is only one option.
Have you ever had a situation where an employer or individual acts like they are giving you a choice but there is really only one option? From the perspective of the person providing the non-option, they feel like they are being very generous. From the perspective of the person who has no option, the situation feels like a trap.
At one time I worked for a large company that had a pretty good healthcare package. One that you wouldn’t want to loose. At the beginning of flu season they sent out a memo to all staff members that whomever did not get a flu shot would loose there healthcare plan if they took time off for having the flu. (I don’t think what they did would be considered legal today.) I had expressed concerns to my direct supervisor. I have had allergic reactions to medicines and vaccines. And several of my direct family members had had a reaction to this particular flu vaccine. I was told to that I had to get it. So I did. I had a reaction to flu vaccine. Not only did I have an allergic reaction (hospital visit which had to be paid for by the insurance) but I then got sick with the flu. The flu virus and allergic reaction had weakened my immune system to the point that I then got pneumonia. I ended up missing three weeks of work. Medicine, hospital visits, doctor visits, paid sick leave, and loss of an employee for almost a month all had to be absorbed between the insurance and the company.
Now I know that I am probably the exception to the rule in this case. But the lost time, money, and energy because I was not given a choice was very disheartening.
So where was I going with all of this….. It is nice to have choices. When working in a situation where one is part of a team, if the team members have choices, they feel like they are participating. When negotiating or just being part of a relationship, options, choices and not feeling trapped build better relationships.
So what would you prefer? Whole wheat toast or white toast?