What's the best way that you can expose your true preference between 2 very close choices?

sorry for the extremely odd-sounding title, but there’s no easy way to sum up what i’m asking:
I asked someone to help me pick between two things once because I was unable to really pick between the two (or so I thought) very similar options.

The person I asked responded with an extremely elegant solution: he asked me a simple question that was able to immediately crystallize my preferences and lead me to a selection (maybe something like “if you had to give one up, which would it be” but not that question I don’t think)

I can’t, for the life of me, remember what that question was. Help?!?

(this may be less factual and more folklore remedy type, so feel free to report and forum-shift!)

What’s worked for me very reliably is to flip a coin. As soon as I look at the result, I find myself either completely satisfied that it got the right answer, OR completely disappointed that it came up wrong. In either case I know which is the true preference.


This is all I have: make your decision, then check how you feel immediately after. Sorry, or content? That should tell you which is the right choice.

Except it won’t work if you’re still ambivalent after deciding.

Edited to add: Or what Cliffy said!

That’s pretty much what I was going to write. It works pretty well.

Can you expand on this - I seem to recall a coin involved…

like do you mean (heads, A ; tails, B) and then see what happens?

Moved from GQ to IMHO.

samclem Moderator. GQ

Well, atleast that decision was easy… :smiley:

I’ve assisted lots of customers who had this dilemma.

Them: I don’t know, I can’t decide.
Me: If you did know, which one would it be?
Them: The blue one!

This worked without hesitation on the part of the customer every single time.

The coin trick also works, especially when you are alone

Basically, what I do is this:

  1. Flip a coin: heads indicates choice A, tails indicates choice B.

  2. If my first thought upon seeing the result is “Well, let’s do best out of three,” I choose the other one. Otherwise, I stick with whatever the coin shows. :slight_smile:

  3. Hi, Opal!

Obviously a more nuanced system is required for non-binary choices, but this works well in most cases.

I think.
I don’t know, might have to try that other option.

Something like this also works if you have someone with you. Ask your friend which one you should pick, then see what your immediate reaction is.

This is what I do, especially in restaurants. “What should I order?” Then I see if I like the suggestion.

The way I say it, as soon as the coin is in the air, you know which side you want it to land on.

I ask myself: If I choose A, how will I feel about that choice tomorrow? Next week? Next year? 10 years from now?

Then do the same for B.

I just choose A.

Go for the combo platter. :smiley:

I liked the ideas mentioned earlier. Here is another one I learned in a seminar:

Take a string about 12 inches long or so and tie the end to a metal washer (or bolt, whatever). For simplicity, we’ll call this thing a pendulum.

Hold the end of the string (the end opposite the washer) in front of your face or chest. Let the washer dangle. Hold it until it the washer doesn’t move.

Do this part just once: Train yourself to think of the pendulum moving towards and away from you as being a “yes.” Think yes, yes, yes and eventually the washer will move in that direction. Similarly, think of “no” as being a left-to right motion. Think no, no, no and the pendulum will eventually move in that direction.

Now, position the washer so it is perfectly still. Wait, wait, and you’ll probably make imperceptable but unconsciouse (more or less) movements of your hand to gently sway the movement for the direction your guts wants.

Note this isn’t some sort of Ouija board kind of thing. You move the string. The pendulum simply amplifies what your brain/preferences/libido/whatever wants.

The same technique can possibly be used for repressed (not sure that is the right word) memories. I once forgot a girlfriend’s birthday (a big no, no!). I used the method to go through every day of the month. Two dates were revealed as positives. I repeated the procedure on the two dates and then only one indicated a positive. And it was correct! Now, I’ve only done this sort of thing a few times and it isn’t perfect. For example, I used it in a “where did I leave my keys” search and it didn’t do squat. So, your mileage may vary.

I would be interested in others experience with the method and whether it worked or didn’t work for them.

I’ve also simply used talking or writing/emailing about an issue to bring about a decision.

I suspect a couple things factor in here 1) by organizing the material, the very act of that organization helps lead one to a decision and 2) you’re using more parts of the brain.

I can’t flip a coin so I don’t get one involved, but that’s my own method. Pick one. Does it feel right? Pick the other. Does it feel right? There is always one that feels right and one that doesn’t. If I have something like dice handy it’s even easier: as soon as I assign values to every possible solution, I find myself wishing for a particular value to come up. That’s the solution I want!

It works for other difficult decisions, too. If the idea of doing A one more time fills me with dread and the idea of not doing it ever again makes me want to sing and dance, it’s about bloody time I stopped doing it: yes, even if “doing A” happens to be something which in theory I should want to do, like go to that particular job. That doesn’t necessarily mean right away, it’s best to leave a job for a new one… but definitely start sending out resumes yesterday.

I do the same thing the rest of you do, too. It is quite eye-opening to realize you actually do have a strong preference once you pretend you’ve made the decision. We sure do like to tell ourselves stories, I’d have to say (like the story that we don’t know what we want to do - I think we mostly know, but we don’t always want to admit it). :slight_smile: