According to research by Francis J. Flynn, K. B. Lake and Vanessa K. Bohns, most people underestimate their power of influence and expect others to turn down their requests. This applies both in their personal and professional lives. The result is that people avoid asking others for favors or help, as well as sharing their beliefs or advice with their superiors at work, because they think it wouldn’t change anything.
The experiment conducted by Vanessa K. Bohns and Francis J. Flynn, at Stanford, shows that, when asked to approximate how many people they would need to approach before having someone agree to fill in a questionnaire, make a donation or let them borrow a phone, strangers turned out to be almost twice as likely to say “yes” compared to what the participants had foreseen. The research behind these scenarios shows that people fail to put themselves in the shoes of the person receiving the request and thus can’t understand that social pressure affects other people as much as it does them. Saying “no” to someone is more difficult than saying “yes”, whether it is to strangers, bosses, colleagues or friends. Furthermore, it appears that daring to ask for things is beneficial to both parties, as the more you ask the more success you have and the more confident you become.
So now that you have decided to go ahead and ask for something, let’s talk about what you can do to increase your chances of getting a “Yes”.
In his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Dr. Robert Cialdini identifies six basic rules that can help you persuade others by adapting your everyday communications to these simple principles:
Reciprocity – everything around us is based on balance and this is why we have the tendency to mirror what others do to us. So, whether it’s a team member, a partner or a superior, if you want someone to help you or agree with you, you should be open to doing the same for them.
Consistency – People who commit to things -verbally and in the presence of others – will more likely deliver on their word. This is why each meeting and partner discussion should end with a responsibilities plan that people accept and agree to publicly.
Scarcity – the less available a resource is, the more people want it. If you create a strong call-to-action which suggests a sense of urgency, people will be more likely to take a favorable decision. For example, if you want to book a band for your wedding and they tell you they have already quoted that date to someone else and that the booking goes to the first one who pays the deposit, chances are that this will persuade you to agree to their commercial terms sooner rather than later.
Consensus – as several studies and experiments have shown in past decades, we tend to do and agree to what others are doing. This is because, once we identify a social pattern, we tend to trust it, especially if the segment associated is similar to us. This means that, if you get most of your team to agree to something, the rest of it will eventually follow through as well.
Liking – it’s no secret that we are influenced by the people we like and We usually like those who are similar to us, who pay us compliments and who cooperate with us. You may apply these principles to your business partners and try to create bonds with them, before negotiating. This way, your chances of sealing a deal will increase.
Authority – we tend to trust people who have authority and who have either a managerial / trusted position or are presented as key opinion leaders and experts in their field. Don’t be afraid to introduce your colleagues as experts when you present them to your partners, or associate people to each skill set or service your company takes pride in.