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The Discount Hierarchy

I first encountered the Discount Hierarchy in some training I did in the late 90s. When I met these four levels of resisitance, the lights went on, the penny dropped and so many things were clearer for me. It has become a very useful tool to understand that when I want to implement something, and I am getting resistance, there is a way of dealing with it because you have it broken down into manageable parts this way. It also demonstrates clearly what level of resistance you are trying to counter. You also hear ourself saying these sorts of things and so , for me, I start to pull back and listen better. I also found this model applied to family and domestic violence in the state of Arizona. This site also makes it very clear how it can be used.

Four levels of resistance

Four levels of resistance have been identified which need to be explored before any problem can be effectively addressed. Jacqui Schiff, Dawna Markov and Falcon River developed the Discount Hierarchy.

1. Existence

There isn’t a problem
You can prove anything with statistics
Some people just have more problems than others
It’s to test their faith
Life isn’t always fair
I have never been affected by this problem

2. Significance

Other places maybe, but not here
Kids tend to exaggerate
Do you mean to tell me every time I…
Boys will be boys
Nothing really happened
Personally, I have never known anyone who…
It was just a joke. We were only kidding.
It happens to everyone. You shouldn’t make such a big thing of it.
Yes, it’s important, but not as important as….

3. Solvability

There is no solution
It’s human nature
Experts have tried and failed to find solutions
Maybe we can help a bit but solve it, no
When all the peaceful alternatives fail, you have to fight
Don’t be naïve. You have to live in the real world
No use trying to solve societal problems on an individual basis

4. Self

Well, maybe there are solutions, but there is nothing I can do about it
What do you expect me to do?
I have plenty to do already
If we had time/ a grant/ more resources, then maybe….
I am already doing all I can do
Why me?
It’s their job



Retired Adelaide based professional. Lived here most of my life. I have been a teacher of French, English and German since 1974 and value the capacity of the classroom, wherever that might be, to write on the lives of others.

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