It was Friday evening and I really wanted to wrap up my work before I leave to my friend’s house. However, I knew it wouldn’t be that simple, especially considering how important it was to my friend that I be there on time. None the less, I wanted to finish my project but I had to be smart about convincing her to accept my schedule. However, as suspected, this was not so easy, because, the more I tried to convince her, the more she resisted. And she kept resisting till something miraculously happened. I framed my request in a way that completely changed her resistance level which unlocked a key to persuasion. A key was not to just be able to persuade a friend, but rather, an unconscious technique to persuade others of anything. So, that day I decided to write about all the techniques of persuasion I’d learned over time.
Now, let’s get specific and talk about the four techniques that anyone can use to approach someone with a request.
“One Time Exception” –
It was the summer of 2019, a summer where I wanted to test my physical boundaries. I love yoga, particularly hot yoga, so I decided to sign up for Classes. I found a great facility, convenient and close, but yet, still daunting enough to spark my inner fire for challenges. So, I did what I always do with all the best things in life I have now, I just went for it and dove into taking classes in daily manners. The monthly fee was $210. “Well worth it”, I told myself but I failed to do one key thing. I failed to read the contract in detail. The consequences for which I had to pay for when I planned a three-week vacation to Spain.
So, one week before my trip, I told the yoga studio manager to put a hold on my membership. Then they mentioned that any cancellation or putting a hold on a membership requires a month notice in advance, stated in the fine print of the contract which I did not read. That meant I would be stuck with a $210 charge for the 3 weeks that I wouldn’t be attending classes. The manager told me that I should’ve read the contract and she could not put a hold on my membership for those 3 weeks.
I acknowledged their policy and I told her that I was not aware of the conditions. Then I did something that worked like magic, or more specifically, I asked a magical question, “Have you ever made an exception?” She paused… and paused some more before she replied with a curious answer. She informed me she had ignored this policy in the contract only once before to keep a customer happy. Instead of looking at the situation in an old, traditional and rigid way, she utilized the ideals of, “The One-Time Favor”, so she could keep a customer happy.
People are willing to be persuaded to break policies or rules if it’s only a one-time request. So, once I asked to look at this as a one-time request, she accepted it, even if it was against their policy.
The second technique is to create an instant connection. It could be used when you see a someone for the first time. I was at a coffeeshop the other day and I saw the barista gathering the sandwiches to close out the shop. I was so hungry, so I went up to the barista before he collected all the last sandwiches. I looked at his name tag and noted his name, it was Michael. I asked him, “Michael, is it possible that I could purchase one of these sandwiches.” Saying his name created an instant connection, where he smiled and offered up one of the sandwiches for me to have for free instead. I was not expecting to get a sandwich for free, but I took his offer and thanked him. Even to this day, every time I go to that coffeeshop, he recognizes me and makes sure that I get the best service possible, all because I created an instant connection by using his name when asking for a favor.
“Validation and recognition”-
Often, a person’s show of resistance is fueled by a desire to gain power and respect. So, knowing this, what can we do? We can give them respect and validation in advance. In return, they will do anything in their power to do as you request, to validate that they are deserving of the preemptive respect you have bestowed on them. For example, a few months ago, I got a bill from my doctor and noticed two charges for the same exam. The exam was performed twice without any notification to me for the double charges. Therefore, I called her and she started explaining to me why she did the same exam twice to get a better result, then she ended her statement with, “there is no way that I could dispute the charges. Sorry.”
I acknowledged her by reassuring her and telling her that she was absolutely correct, I would probably do the same if I was in her situation. That interrupted her pattern of thinking. She expected me to fight back and once she saw that I wasn’t on the phone to fight, she brought down her guard and started to listen. By using the phrase, “if I was in your situation” I created an instant connection by putting myself in her shoes. Then, I took the blame and apologized. I told her that it was my fault and I should’ve asked if I was getting charged for the second test. But is there any way that she could make an exception? She told me that she would talk to the billing department to see what she could do. The next thing I know, she gave me a 20% discount for the total amount I had to pay. She found a way to return the respect and recognition that I gave her at the beginning of our interaction. Here I combined both techniques, the technique of someone seeking validation and the magical question of getting a one-time exception.
“Rational Minds – The Power of Because”-
The fourth technique is called the “rational mind”. People tend to do things if there is a strong reason behind it and why to do it. But sometimes, it doesn’t have to be a strong reason, but just a reason itself to back it up. Using the word “because” justifies what comes before it. Professor of psychology at Harvard, Ellen Langer, published a research study about the power of the word “because”. She had subjects request to cut into a line of people waiting to use a copy machine on a college campus. She had the subjects use three different ways of phrases requesting to break in line.
- “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine? (60% Compliance)
- “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I have to make copies?” (93% Compliance)
- “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?” (94% Compliance)
As you can see, using the word “because” and giving a reason for doing something results in significantly more compliance to a request. People will more likely to be persuaded to do something if you give them a reason why.
So, for all these techniques you need to keep reminding yourself that you want to make it clear that whoever you are asking the favor from, is the very person who is capable of making the best decision to grant the favor. You wouldn’t tell them what to do, but rather, you have faith in them that they will pick the best solution. Try these Techniques. Feel free to let me know the outcomes of your experiences utilizing these techniques.