Give Two Choices

October 27, 2019

Categories: Decision

My wife recently had a minor surgery. As she was waking up from anesthesia, the nurse came in to offer her something to eat and drink. The nurse gave two choices.

“Do you want apple juice or cranberry juice?”

“Do you want peanut butter crackers or goldfish?”

Because of the anesthesia, it wouldn’t have worked as well for the nurse to say, “What would you like to drink?” This would force the patient to do too much work. It’s better to keep it simple and give two choices.

Two Choices in Parenting

This can be a helpful lesson in other areas of life as well. For example, the two choices technique is very effective when parenting a small child. It can help to diffuse a power struggle. “Would you like to read a story, or watch 5 more minutes of the television show? What do you choose?”

Limit Your Options

It can also be helpful to limit your choices in daily life as well. In our everyday lives, we can get overwhelmed with a ton of options. Paradoxically, having more options can make us less satisfied with our eventual decision, because we have seen the pros and cons of every option. Sometimes it’s better to limit your choices and just make a decision.

Limited Decision-Making Capacity

Also, our brains have a limited capacity and energy to make decisions each day. Some of the most successful people in the world, like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Barack Obama, wear the same thing every day. They don’t want to waste their decision-making energy on something unimportant like deciding what to wear.


What do you think about the strategy of “giving two choices?” How might limiting your options improve your life?


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