Are you feeling defeated by hearing “no” from people lately? Whether it’s your family, friends, employees, or customer service agents, no one likes to be turned down or disappointed. Try these expert-recommended, confidence-boosting strategies that are proven to persuade others to say “yes” gently yet firmly. That way, you can get everyone on board — without complaint. It’s a win-win!
Tap into shared values.
To get family members to pitch in around the house, appeal to their “self-story,” urges Susan M. Weinschenk, Ph.D., Chief Behavioral Scientist and CEO at The Team W, Inc. and author of How to Get People to Do Stuff (Buy from Amazon, $25). “For example, you might say to your husband, ‘I know you like having a nice flower bed — could you clear out the weeds?’” If there are teens in your life, they value a sense of control, so you might say, “‘Whenever it makes sense for you to do your laundry is fine by me,’” Weinschenk says. “People want to do things that are consistent with how they see themselves.”
Use this magic word.
Whether you’d like someone to do the dishes or give you a ride to the airport, saying “because” after your request makes others more likely to say yes, says Weinschenk. “In one study, people asked folks waiting in line to make Xerox copies if they could skip ahead. They got almost the same number of “yeses” when they said, ‘Can I make copies because I’m late to a meeting?’ as when they said, ‘Can I make copies because I need to make copies?’” We’re programmed to believe what follows “because” is valid, even if it doesn’t make that much sense.
Point to the future.
If you want to find common ground with a loved one on something less concrete, like a financial goal, consider taking a walk together. “Strolling side by side makes us feel like we’re on the same page,” says body-language and communication expert Patti Wood, author of Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language & Charisma, (Buy from Amazon, $11). “Then literally point to the horizon in front of you as you broach the topic.” This body language signals that your objective is something external to look forward to. “It helps them see that you’re striving for the same thing — and they’re much more apt to agree with you.”
Score customer service.
“Just being nice and patient with a customer service rep is everything,” assures Weinschenk. It’s also important to have a specific solution in mind. “Be clear, by using phrases like, ‘How about a refund?’ or ‘Is it possible to…’ she advises. “The other day, I needed to return a package, but it would cost $6, so I asked if I could drop it off locally for free instead. Offering a resolution makes all the difference.”
Make your offer.
When negotiating, first pinpoint what you’re willing to offer, says Wood. “I had my deck painted last summer, and I told the handyman, ‘I’m not in a hurry; you can do this whenever you have a free date. And when you’re done, I’ll write a great review on our neighborhood Facebook page.’” The result? “I got $100 off! Leading with what you’ll give builds trust.”
Focus on fairness.
More often than not, people want to do the right thing. In fact, bringing up what’s called “standards of fairness” can help you get a “yes,” says Douglas Stone, J.D., co-author of Difficult Conversations (Buy from Amazon, $15), and a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, where he teaches negotiation. “If you’re on a call with the insurance company, just ask, ‘How do you handle it for others in this situation?’ Or say, ‘A friend in X similar situation got Y treatment — I’d like the same.’” It makes folks say to themselves, Oh, this is what people think is fair, so I should do it. “It’s much easier to say yes when we bring up what’s equitable.”
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.