Give people a reason to say YES


As a child one of the main motivators for eating the entire contents in my plate was the fact that there were starving kids in Africa or China or somewhere. I always dreamed of having some form of magical drain where I could tip my leftovers and have them sent straight there - but regardless - because of these starving children I dutifully ate my entire meal.

At that age I couldn’t see that the act of not eating the meal had actually any relevance to starving people elsewhere in the world - and truth be told it doesn’t. The two both involve eating, but aside from that, the cause and effect or correlation of results is a pure fabrication.

What it did teach me however is that so long as someone confidently expresses a reason then it justifies their request - regardless if they are connected. A common human behaviour as it happens.

In social experiments where strangers were asked a simple request they complied a lot more readily when given a reason - any reason will do - the simple act of inserting ‘because’ into the request seemed to suffice.

In 1977 Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer and a team undertook the now famous “Photocopier experiment". Her team were asked to try and jump the queue at the photocopier. The researcher would ask one of 3 questions.

  • #1 “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” - 60% success

  • #2 “Excuse me. I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?” Nearly all (94%) let them through

  • #3 “Excuse me. I have five pages. May I go before you because I have to make some copies?”

Amazingly even with this lame excuse 93% let them cut in - we assume everyone was standing in line to make copies.

It seems when you are able to somehow justify your request or behaviour, you are more likely to receive a YES answer.

Of course photocopying is a trivial decision matter so less likely to be scrutinised. Buying a house, car or other investment people are more likely to pay closer attention.

You can however use this useful tip in everyday life “Excuse me, I am needed elsewhere", "Please clean the bathroom because...", "could we meet later because...", "I haven't done this because I didn't get around to it"

Of course the converse to this is things or behaviours we have that we never question because….

Have a think about where this could help you -why? - because I asked you nicely :-)

#Influence #Cp #Communication

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