By Nia Sweetz
When you start building a business, it’s easy to think you can do it on your own. Unfortunately, that’s not true. No entrepreneur can be successful on his or her own. No matter how intelligent, perceptive, innovative, and hardworking you are, you still need the help of other people.
It’s a lot easier to get the help you need when you know which psychological tricks sway people to do exactly what you want them to do. Understanding how our minds process information will help you figure out how to get people to say yes, understand how to position yourself as an authority while you speak, and learn the right time to ask for something.
Three Myths About Influencing People
Myth #1: Smile to make the other person feel more comfortable.
How many times have you asked someone for something and although they may respond with a joke, the answer is certainly “no”? By smiling and laughing when asking for something, you are giving someone the opportunity to make light of the request.
What to do instead: When using a conversation as a segue to asking for what you want, make it clear that you’re heading into a serious conversation. Slightly lower your voice and speak slightly faster than you were before. This lets the other person know that your request is not only important but urgent as well.
Myth #2: Use the word ‘favor.’
I’ve heard the advice that you shouldn’t tell people you want something; you should ask them for a favor. I disagree with that. The moment we hear the word “favor,” we immediately know we have to do one of three things:
- Rearrange our schedule.
- Pay for something.
- Work for less than we usually charge (or maybe even work for free).
By asking for favors, you are already putting yourself at a disadvantage.
What to do instead: State your request in a clear and to the point tone. Don’t lead with “Can I ask you a question?” or “Can I talk to you about something?” Instead, enter the conversation with a natural transition, such as “We’ve discussed my organization a few times before….”
Myth #3: When you see an opening, take it.
You’re having a great conversation with someone and thinking of the best way to lead that conversation into asking for a favor. What’s the best way to do it? Don’t do it at all.
It’s tempting to ask for something when you feel like the other person is in a good mood, but the trick to getting what you want is being fully prepared for the conversation. Trying to wing it will leave you in an awkward situation if they deny you and can make them feel hesitant to spend time with you in the future, for fear of being cornered again.
What to do instead: Plan your conversation and be in control of the environment. Keep the topic close to what you’re asking for so you won’t throw a curveball when you get around to your request.
The Power of Inclusion
People respond positively to feeling included. They want to feel like they are a part of something. When you ask for things, instead of approaching the conversation with the idea that you’ll be asking for a commitment, think of it as including the person on a journey.
We tend to phrase our question like this: “If you could make a donation of only $500, it would make a significant difference.”
The request should be phrased like this: “Contributors play a vital part in our organization; receiving $500 from you would be incredibly helpful to our cause.”
Appeal to Their Emotions
Do you remember learning ethos, pathos, and logos in school? When getting people to do what you want, the key is to focus on their emotions rather than trying to appeal to logic. (That works better for a mass audience.)
Logical: It’s only $500 and the benefits far outweigh the costs when you consider how many lives you’re changing.
Emotional: It feels like a lot of money, but you’re helping people to get opportunities you and I take for granted every day.
No matter what you’re asking, be genuine about it. Acknowledge that whatever you need people to do is going to cost them (either with their money or their time). The best way to get through obstacles is to tackle them head-on.
When we’re asked to do something we didn’t plan for, we naturally experience feelings similar to loss. However, you can use the power of touch to offset that emotion. Ways include:
- Squeeze a person’s shoulders
- Lightly touch both arms of the person at the same time–this shows support, trust, and respect
While touching may seem like strange behavior, people will actually feel understood and have more confidence in your intentions; it is more difficult for someone to say no when you’re touching them.
When you want someone to do what you want, focus more on what the other person is getting rather than what they’re giving. Start your conversations with how the other party will benefit, and end the conversation with how it should make them feel.
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