You’re More Persuasive than You Think

How often have you avoided asking for something…when the answer would have been “yes?”

Probably much more often than you think.

Why? Because we tend to think of our influence as the ability to tell people what to do.

The reality is that asking for something is a completely different story.


Compliance without pressure

Demands are most effective when the person doesn’t have the option of saying “no.”

If you can refuse a demand from someone, you probably will.

Who do they think they are anyway?



It’s much harder to say “no” to a request.

Refusing a request is more difficult for a number of reasons.

Not only might it make you feel badly, it can imply all sorts of awkward and unpleasant things. (That you are selfish, that you don’t like the person, you don’t trust them, and so on.)


How to Use this Knowledge

Don’t be so hesitant to ask.

Even if you would have assumed that the answer will be “no,” you just might be wrong.


Ask again.

If someone says “no” the first time you ask, keep in mind that it was probably difficult for them to do.

Because of this, you are much more likely (than you think) to get a “yes” if you ask again later.


Phrase it as a question.

It’s possible to ask for something in a sentence such as:

“I would like you to…”

When that same request could be made with sentence such as:

“Will you…?”

Phrasing it as a question emphasizes that it is not a demand, often making it more difficult to refuse.


Emphasize the ability to say “no.”

This one might seem surprising at first, but reminding people that they can say “no” makes them far more likely to say “yes.”

Follow up your requests with a simple statement like “You are free to say no.

Research has shown that it increases sales, donations, helping, and volunteering. Sometimes by as much as double.



Image credits: Matt Reinbold, Henry Burrows

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