The Value Premise

An Old Game

People in life will try to equate what they're doing with the "good" and by doing so, imply that those against them are in the "bad."

It's an old approach that still works in some cases. Fortunately, the new generations seem to be wiser than to fall for this. My generation didn't.

You see, the classic example is something like love. By telling people that they stand for love, they'll try and fight off any claim against what they're saying as if it's against love.

"You don't believe in this, then you're obviously against love"

How would you answer that?

You see, the moment you say anything along the lines of defence, you'll lose.

"I'm not against love, I'm just..."

That's the moment you're done.

A more common example is around what's fair. People (in business especially), will tell you: "I just want what's fair."

On the outset that seems pretty reasonable. But what happens when your idea of fairness doesn't match up with theirs? Who's not being fair then?

Well, that's when people love to go to third parties for an opinion. Suddenly, both sides (usually) have opinions that suggest they're right. What happens then?

It can go a few ways.

  1. The person who has more leverage will end up winning that argument (aka they'll get their way).
  2. The person who is actually making more sense will get their way (this isn't as common as you might think).
  3. One side walks away and nothing gets done (and they'll both just keep saying whatever they want anyway.


Angles like this are risky because the person who decides that their value premise is at risk will usually never back down as a result of ego.

I find that the best way to counteract this angle is to nip it in the bud. This requires short-term confrontation early in the conversation.

"What I'm talking about is making a deal that's fair"

A reply might look like this.

"Labeling it as something about "fairness" is really just you trying to tell me I'm not fair if I don't give you what you want. Is that what you're saying?"

Now they may reply.

"Yes, what I want is fair and anything less just isn't fair."

At this moment, you have to acknowledge that if what they want is fair and you're not going to give it to them, they'll label you. That label may carry forward. You'll be tempted to add a label of your phone. Something like "unreasonable."

Instead, try something like this.

"It's a shame you feel that way. I've heard what you want and I'll think it over. Feel free to look elsewhere too, I wouldn't want to stop you from getting what you want."

Then do just that. Think it over carefully and decide if you want to give them what they want. Whenever a label is thrown into the mix, you are in a position where you give what they're asking for or you don't. Don't bother trying to find a middle-ground because it's a waste of time.

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is keep the line open, and give yourself time to think. If they decide you're not a fair person you can't work with them anyway. But the issue isn't fairness. The issue is someone trying to label you negatively because you didn't give them what they want.

It's perfectly okay to not give people what they want. It doesn't make you unfair. It doesn't make you a bad person. It makes them someone you don't want to work with, and that's all.