|Marcus, it's true that communication can solve the problem sometimes. The lunch example is fine. But I gave more examples than that. The Atlas Shrugged motor company is a huge conflict of interest, and communication isn't going to solve their problems. Similarly with lending the money, communication isn't quite good enough. |
The person borrowing has to make countless decisions before he can pay it back, and each one will pit his own interests against that of the lender. He can make educated guesses at what the lender would find an acceptable expenditure, but instead of optimizing his values he'll always seek to be well below the asshole-threshold. They can discuss every expenditure between them, which is better communication as you suggested, but that would be even more painful.
Plus, as I said, there's another solution. You can avoid the conflicts of interest entirely. Why try to alleviate the problems that come with a conflict of interest when you can simply remove them?
Now if someone else creates the conflict, by suggesting they'll buy you lunch, your idea of offering to pay (or pay half) can fix it. But there may end up being other concerns in your attempt to repair it. If he says no, he'll pay for it, is it because he's fine with it? Or because he doesn't want to look cheap? Or because he already offered and doesn't feel right about taking it back over a few extra dollars? Etc.
The point is that once the conflict is there, you have problems. Communication may at times alleviate the conflict, but it may not be that simple. Isn't it best to avoid it?
Ethan, I already linked to that it my article. Just saw your last post saying you saw it. Nevermind.
Jody, welcome to SOLO. You said you'd be willing to pay for the most expensive item on the menu when you treat someone to lunch. I could ask whether you'd be willing to let them buy two of those items, since there's always ways a blank check can be abused. But that misses the point of my article. If it were just the rude guest who abuses your offer, you may be willing to pay that cost once. But my article points out that when a conflict of interests is created, the considerate guest is affected as well. They have to worry about abusing your generosity. It doesn't matter that you may be willing to pay for it, if they're not sure about that.
And really, when you offer to take someone to lunch, are you really expecting them to buy the most expensive meal, appetizers, drinks, etc.? You may be prepared to spend it, but is that the same thing? Maybe it is. Maybe you go in fully expecting to pay $30 for a lunch for someone else while you spend $6 on yourself. But if your guest is considerate, do you think they'll assume that?