I Believe in the Power of Option 3
by Jerry Kotler
As a professional recruiter for over 25 years, and after interviewing nearly 20,000 candidates, I firmly believe in the power of Option 3. What is Option 3? This question can only be answered by first defining Options 1 and 2.
In the course of social or business contacts a person will often encounter something he/she believes is impressive. The moment that happens, this person has 3 options.
The first option is no empathy, which often corresponds to a silent response or the recitation of a one-upmanship story. For example, your neighbor has just returned from a week long cruise to the Western Caribbean and excitedly describes the trip. You respond with silence or you interrupt his passionate description of the ship and note that you recently completed a month long cruise of the Mediterranean where you stopped at 10 major cities.
The second option one has after confronting something impressive is to make the following sounds: Uh Huh, Wow, Really, Oh you’re kidding.
Option 3 is an honest expression of how you feel, and sounds like this:
? “That’s pretty impressive…How did you do that?”
? “Someone has good taste in decorating… this room is beautiful.”
? “Your last e-mail was very meaningful; thanks for sharing.”
? “ Your trip sounds exciting. What things did you enjoy the most?”
The power of Option 3 can be huge. I once asked a friend, who was Shift Manager at a well known national restaurant chain, what would happen if a server was told by a customer that he had been going to restaurants for over 30 years and couldn’t remember receiving better service. My friend said such a remark would be equivalent to receiving a 50% tip, but most importantly, it would elevate the spirit and enthusiasm of that server, not withstanding the actual tip.
The rewards of inserting Option 3 remarks into normal family conversation can be long lasting and extremely beneficial. Think of all the missed opportunities when we responded with, “Uh Huh,” when our child told us something that was impressive. These are special moments when we might have said, “Oh you must be kidding, did you really get a 98 on that Math test? I am so proud of you.”
I have a friend who brought the power of Option 3 into an Intensive Care Unit, which housed his 56 year old father. His dad, who suffered a serious stroke, was deteriorating to the point where the family was beginning to talk about funeral arrangements. After several days of visiting his dad in the ICU, my friend began to notice how hard the health care providers worked their shift and he began to compliment each of them for their efforts. Within 24 hours his father’s condition began to improve markedly. Now, after nearly 2 years he is able to lead a near normal life. You can tell my friend this outcome was a result of a medical procedure, but he said the physicians had all but given up. He is convinced that the Option 3 compliments caused the nurses to treat his father like a relative.
The list of Option 3 uses and benefits is endless.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.