Are You Missing Out on the #1 Persuasion Hack (Backed by Science) that Works 94% of the Time?
You don’t like being told what to do.
Let’s do an experiment. Your partner asks you, “Could you help Bethina with their homework?” (Assume that they aren’t busy.)
How likely are you to help? What emotions do you feel?
Let’s try this: A friend/coworker/stranger tells you, “You need to lower your voice.”
How likely are you to do so? What emotions do you feel?
They probably don’t want to, and so they push back. Your simple request becomes an argument.
It’s hard to persuade people to do something for you, and trying to force them will damage your relationship with them.
The odds are not in your favor.
Is there any way you can make yourself more successful?
Fortunately, there is a easy and effective solution that you can use every day. It’s based on this aphorism:
People do better when they know “why”
I’ll discuss the solution — it’s one word long — and how to apply it to everyday life, but first let’s look at the research that discovered something remarkable.
What’s the magic word that makes things better?
In a 1978 journal article, researchers wanted to study the effect of ending a request with a “because…” reason for the request. The scenario for the study was people in line to use a copy machine. The action was a person asking to break into the line. The researchers tried the experiment using three different requests:
- [no reason (experiment control)] “May I use the Xerox machine?”
- [a placebo reason] “May I use the xerox machine, because I have to make copies?”
- [a real reason] “May I use the xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”
The results were astonishing:
- [no reason] 60 percent of people complied
- [placebo reason] 93 percent
- [real reason] 94 percent
The big takeaway from this experiment is being told “why” almost always guarantees success.
So what does this mean for using “because…” in the real world?
When do you use the magic word?
In the following three categories, look at the difference between not being told “why” or being told it. How would you feel about hearing the statements that don’t give a reason? What changes when you give a reason?
What about when you ask for something?
[asking, no reason] “Could you help Bethina with their homework?”
[asking, real reason] “Could you help Bethina with their homework, because I have to cook dinner.”
And when you tell someone what to do:
[commanding, no reason] “You need to lower your voice.”
[commanding, real reason] “You need to lower your voice because we don’t want everyone to know we’re arguing.”
And here’s a case when you’re trying to persuade someone not to be angry at you:
[explaining, no reason] Them: “Why did you leave me at the grocery store?” You: “I couldn’t pick you up.”
[explaining, real reason] Them: “Why did you leave me at the grocery store?” You: “I couldn’t pick you up because my car broke down.”
Asking, commanding, and explaining: these occur frequently in daily conversation. Adding “because…” to what you say gets people to cooperate and avoids adding bad feelings to your relationships.
Please do this exercise, because it’ll help you get comfortable using this persuasion hack
Here are three cases where using “because…” will help. Many answers are possible, so whatever reason you give will be correct. Don’t struggle to find the “best” answer — just come up with something
- You are in a restaurant that has a long line for ordering, and all you need to do is pick up a takeout order (which won’t take up much time). You say, “May I get in front of you, because _________.”
- You say, “Please call the florist for me, because _________.”
- Your partner says, “Hey, that was my dinner. Why did you throw it in the trash?” You say, “I threw it in the trash because _________.”
Bonus: To make even more progress, come up with two more “because…” statements for for each sentence — because doing so will make it easier to come up with a “because…” statement when you need one quickly!
You can easily find opportunities to use “because…” every day. Try it and see what changes.
“Because” is the magic word that delivers the “why” to the other person. Never forget this:
People do better when they know “why”.