Get What You Want in 90% of Your Negotiations

Do you love it when people tell you “Yes?” What about when people tell you “No?” That last one is rarely any fun. We all aim to get more of what we want out of and in life. We may hope that we will get what we want simply because we think we deserve it. 

That is often not the case because if we don’t ask, we don’t get.

Here is a ridiculously easy tactic for influencing others to say “Yes” to you. 

These ideas come from Executive Performance & Relationship Coach Merideth Thompson. She shares this super easy-access technique that even those who dread negotiation can easily use. 

When you want to get something, your request should follow two almost effortless rules:

  1. Put your request in the form of a question. Why? Because very few of us appreciate being told what to do or want to feel bossed around! In fact, it can encourage some people to be downright surly. 
  2. Use the word “because.”

For example, “Could we work towards a $5,000 signing bonus because my research indicates that is the norm right now in hiring a web developer?”

We must structure our request so that it is HARD for the other person to say “No” and easy to say “Yes.” This is where the “because” comes in. Research (and my own anecdotal evidence) shows that even a silly reason yields good results. If so, think of how well it works when your reason relies upon stellar logic or – even better – data.

This tactic is based on a study that took an experimental approach to unbeknown subjects using a copy machine and then being interrupted by another participant who is aware of the experiment.

The study was composed of three different scenarios. In the first scenario, the participant said to the subject currently using the copier (i.e., the subject of the experiment):

“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” 

The subjects being interrupted agreed 60% of the time to the experimenter’s request. 

In the second scenario, the participant asked the subjects currently using the copier:

“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?” 

Now the subjects agreed 94% of the time

I don’t know about you, but the result in this scenario surprised me. Isn’t everyone usually in a rush? Why is someone else’s time and urgency more valuable or important than mine if I’m the one already using the copier?

However, in the third scenario, the participant asked the subjects currently using the copier:

“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I need to make some copies?” 

Again, the subjects’ compliance was very high – 93%. 

So what was the key difference that made the subjects agree to yield their time to the experimenter?

Subjects’ compliance rate increased as much as 34% when the person making the request 1) put their request in the form of a question and 2) used the word because.

The next time you have a need or a preference, try framing it in this question-because format and see what happens!

Merideth Thompson is a coach for professionals who want to take their lives, careers, and relationships to the next level, and those who are leaving a job/career or relationship to be their most authentic and healthiest self. She holds a Ph.D. in organizational behavior and an MBA in HR from Vanderbilt University. Learn more about Meridith here.