Transfer enthusiasm, so people want to do what you want

15th October 2013

People do what you want when they think it benefits them to do so.

The problem is that they often can’t see the benefits. So they do things less well or quickly than you’d like… or they don’t do them at all.

The best solution is to persuade them by using phrases that appeal to their self-interest. You do this by showing them one/both of the:

  • positive impact to them of doing what you want; and/or
  • negative ramification to them if they don’t

Some examples….

Want someone to agree to diarising a Telephone Meeting with you, but don’t want to appear pestering?

  • (Positive) ‘Let’s make sure we can progress our discussions as quickly as possible, by putting our next chat in the diary’; and/or
  • (Negative) ‘Let’s avoid the dreaded Telephone Tennis, and agree a time now when we can chat again about this’

Want someone to recommend you to their boss?

  • (Positive) ‘The areas we’ve discussed would impress your boss. I’d like to mention them to her. Please could you…’; and/or
  • (Negative) ‘I don’t want us to agree something now which your boss subsequently disapproves of. So, it’s important I speak with her about this. Please can you …’

Want a better understanding of the content someone wants you to include in a document/presentation?

(Positive) ‘I want to write something that contains all the right information for you, to help you make good decisions, quickly. Please can you…’; and/or
(Negative) ‘The last thing I want to do is bore you with irrelevant information. Please can you…’
And finally, if you want to ask your boss if you can stop having pointless team meetings (or, at least, make them more efficient and/or pleasant)…

  • (Positive) ‘I’ve thought of a new way that will empower and enthuse our team. Instead of our current meetings, how about we…’; and/or
  • (Negative) ‘One of the key reasons we aren’t hitting our targets is because people are focusing on the wrong thing. And one of the reasons for that is what we discuss in our weekly meetings. Therefore, how about…’

To find the best phrases for a particular topic/person:

  1. Create the positive – why is it good for them if they do it?
  2. Create the negative – why is it bad for them if they don’t?
  3. Choose the one that will resonate most with them (usually – but not always – this will be the negative; because people often act to avoid pain)

Then, say your chosen phrase first. In other words, before you ask them to do something. After all, the more they’re thinking “how do I achieve that benefit?”, the more likely they are to say “yes” when you ask them.

Action point

Using today’s Tip as a guide…

In your next meeting today:

  • (Positive) To persuade someone to agree with you more quickly…
  • (Negative) To stop your projects moving too slowly…

…Identify the best positive/negative phrase to use, to convince people it is in their interest to agree with you.

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