Looking to get ahead at the office without reading thousands of self-help books or signing up for a business coach?
Then look no further than the research done by one of the world’s leading social psychologists, Dr. Robert Cialdini.
Dr. Robert Cialdini wrote the acclaimed book, which has over 1,048 four and a half stars on Amazon, Influence: The Power of Psychology. The insightful and easy-to-read book teaches readers how to learn to be a powerful influencer in ethical and positive ways.
Among his 6 principles, The Power Of Compliance is absolutely intriguing as it uses trigger features (3), which can be simple words or phrases, to create automatic responses.
Turns out, if there’s something you want or need from another person, you can use this single word to increase the chances that they’re likely to give your what you ask for: BECAUSE.
The word because is among our arsenal of automatic weapons of influence, and using the single word when asking for a request makes people more likely to comply.
Dr. Cialdini cites in his book the 1978 Xerox Mindfulness Study conducted by Dr. Ellen Langer at Harvard University as proof of the power in the word because:
A well-known principle of human behavior says that when we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do. Langer demonstrated this unsurprising fact by asking a small favor of people waiting in line to use a library copying machine:Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush? The effectiveness of this request-plus-reason was nearly total: Ninety-four percent of those asked let her skip ahead of them in line.
Compare this success rate to the results when she made the request only: Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?Under those circumstances, only 60 percent of those asked complied. At first glance, it appears that the crucial difference between the two requests was the additional information provided by the words, “because I’m in a rush.”
But a third type of request tried by Langer showed that this was not the case. It seems that it was not the whole series of words, but the first one, “because,” that made the difference. Instead of including a real reason for compliance, Langer’s third type of request used the word “because” and then, adding nothing new, merely restated the obvious: Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies? The result was that once again nearly all (93 percent) agreed, even though no real reason, no new information, was added to justify their compliance.
So, how can you employ this easy technique into your day-to-day work life?
Instead of saying:
Mind if I turn that report in tomorrow instead?
Can I take an extra hour at lunch?
Would you mind helping me with this project I’m working on?
Say it like this:
Can I have an extra day to turn in my report because I’m still working on perfecting it?
Mind if I take an extra hour at lunch because I have an appointment?
Would you help me with this project because I’m a little confused and you’ve done it successfully before?
Your co-workers and boss will be much more likely to agree with you when you ask using the second set of questions.
The great thing about this powerful word is that it works both in spoken word and over email. The point of this isn’t to pawn all of your work or responsibilities on someone else; it’s to learn how to get that little extra edge when you need it.
When using this automatic response weapon, don’t abuse it and try to be natural. People can tell when you’re trying too hard to influence them. (And if you all of sudden start saying the word because in every other sentence, it’s going to be obvious – and awkward.)
With this one little trick, you’re now ready to take on that career ladder at the office.
Want to further your knowledge about the other principles that can influence persuasion as discovered by Dr. Robert Cialdini? Check out this video that highlights the fast and easy ways you can ethically persuade people.