Influencing technique #2 – using a double negative

5th February 2019

People often say “no” to you.

This might be because they mean “no”. They’ve thought it through. They’ve analysed arguments for and against.

Or they said “no” because their head’s full of other stuff, and weren’t able/couldn’t be bothered to think properly about your request.

So, a great influencing technique is to ask a negatively-phrased question. That way, if they respond with “no”, it becomes a double negative – so, a positive. Clearly, this needs an example to make more sense…

If you ask “is there any reason we shouldn’t explore this further?” they’ll either reply:

  • “No” – which means there’s no reason we shouldn’t. In other words, we should explore it further. Or…
  • “Yes” – which means there is a reason we shouldn’t. So your response this time is “I’m glad I asked. Why’s that?” And then they have to outline their concerns. And, once you know them, you can remove them

There are lots of negative words you can use like this. Examples include:

  • Is there any reason we SHOULDN’T do this?
  • Have you any CONCERNS about this?
  • Is there anyone who WON’T want us to do this?
  • Would it do any HARM if we tried this?

So my question to you…

Action Point

Identify someone you have to influence today.

Is there any reason why you CAN’T try this technique with them?

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