Get your partner to do the ironing

5th July 2016

“I persuaded my husband to do the ironing for the first time in 15 years”

“I used to feel awkward asking my boss to do what I wanted. I don’t now”

“The bottleneck in our sales process used to be getting signed paperwork back from customers. They now return it immediately – thank you”

These are excerpts from recent emails from three very happy customers.

They all used the same Influencing Technique I taught them. And, as you can see, it’s a good one! Here it is. But, first, here’s why it works…

As you know, people say “no” a lot – “no, I won’t do the ironing”; “no, I won’t do what you want”

And they say “no” for one of two reasons:

  • They mean it. It’s a strategic, well-thought-out, deeply considered opinion; or
  • They’re too focused on other stuff to think about it. So just say “no”

It’s often the second one. Like in the third email excerpt above: when the salespeople asked “have you time to sign the paperwork?”, customers replied “no, I’m too busy”.

Now, clearly this is wrong. After all, it only takes three seconds to sign a form. But their focus on other priorities meant they didn’t even let the question enter their heads.

So here’s the technique. Since “no” is the likely response, ask a question that includes a negative word. That way, when they reply “no” to your negative word, it becomes a positive. Examples…

You: I’m busy this week. Is there any reason why you can’t help with the ironing?
Husband: No
You: Great. When can you do it?


You: I’d like to move forward with this opportunity. Have you any concerns about me doing so?
Boss: No – crack on
You: Thanks – I will. My first step will be to do X. I’ll tell you how it goes.


You: We’re ready to start your project. Is there any reason you can’t return the signed paperwork today?
Customer: No
You: Thank you. What time will you be sending it?

See how it works? It simply needs two well-scripted sentences: the first one, with a negative in it; and a persuasive follow-up after their response.

Now, of course, when you ask the negative, they might reply with “Yes – there is a reason why I can’t

In which case, you use a different response – like:

You: “I’m glad I checked. Why not?”
Them: (Their reason why not)
You: “So what should we do instead then?”
Both: (You work together to find a way round it)

It’s a great technique. After all, they’ll either do what you want; or tell you why they won’t do it. Either way, you’re better-off than you were.

Of course, as with any technique, it won’t always work. Nothing always works. But if you can get someone to do the ironing for the first time in 15 years, it must be pretty good.

So, is there any good reason why you wouldn’t give this a go today?

Action point

Identify the first person you have to influence today.

If appropriate, use this technique. Make sure you script both your first and your follow-up sentences (what if they say ‘no’? What if they say ‘yes’?)

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