Opt-in or opt-out with “choice architecture”

Would you rather be in Germany or Austria if a family member needs an organ transplant during your vacation? Ever wonder why service “renewal” is easy and automatic while the “cancellation” is on another page, in small print and takes work? We make many of our selections based on how the choices are presented rather than the merits or benefits.

You might not deal with organ donations or service subscriptions but you can still use choice architecture to offer prospects, customers and investors options that turn in your favor. Choice architecture acknowledges that humans usually prefer to agree than disagree. History and research show that we also prefer to take no action rather than to do something. This powerful human tendency can be used for you and your business efforts.

You have the power to design questions and present options in ways that double the positive responses for you and your business. Like me, you’ve probably heard a dispirited Girl Scout, sales clerk or entrepreneur say or imply, “You probably don’t want to buy (cookies, magazines, clothing, vehicle, shares, etc.)” A simple nod gets you off the hook.

On the other hand when you hear, “I can tell you’d love to purchase (cookies, magazines, clothing, vehicle, shares, etc.),” you’re more likely to enter into the transaction. How we build and structure our questions is a pivotal factor in getting what we want or need.

Opt-in: With no action on your part, you remain uninvolved with the product, service or option. In order to be an organ donor in the United States you must expressly choose to opt-in. The red heart on your driver’s license signifies your choice to opt-in to be a donor.

Opt-out:With no action on your part, you remain involved with the product, service or option. With what’s called “deemed” or “presumed” consent, citizens of countries such as Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Norway, France and Spain, are automatic organ donors unless they register on a rejection list.

Choice architecture comes into play when we arrange opt-in vs. opt-out options in ways that channel the final result. When the waitress asks, “Ready for another beer?” a mumble, grunt or head nod results in a fresh one. The novice waiter who asks, “Looks like you might be done?” ends up with fewer sales and tips.

Eight ways to win with choice architecture:

• Assume the candidate wants to work for your firm — speak to them as a team member.

• Assign top talent to the critical project and allow them to opt-out if they choose.

• Be bold in deciding when someone is ripe for a promotion — assume it’s done and let them make the final decision.

• Begin the paperwork during important transactions — make visible notes and changes.

• Start with yourself — use exercise, rest, meditation and music to ready your mind for positive outcomes.

• Speak in positive and optimistic terms whether or not you feel the matching emotions.

• Force yourself to smile — practice with a mirror or by taking multiple selfies (erase the bad ones). A smile is a good path to “yes.”

Arrange options in ways that the customer can say yes with little or no effort.

Car salespeople are masters at choice architecture. They will ask which colors, options or features you prefer, not whether or not you plan to buy the car. The customer wants to be agreeable and liked. Saying “yes” has social and survival benefits.

If you ever need that organ, you want to be in Austria where more than 90 percent of the population have done nothing (default) and remain in the country’s presumed donor program. In Germany, only 12 percent have opted-in after taking action to enroll in the program.

Rick Griggs is the former Intel Corp. training manager and inventor of the rolestorming creativity tool. He speaks on mastery, balance and innovation. Contact him at rick.griggs83@gmail.com