5 Tricks For Getting People To Say Yes

Learn to be more persuasive

Is persuading people to do what you want them to an art or a science?

The authors of Yes! 50 Secrets from the science of persuasion call it a science but I think it’s an art too ~ there must be plenty of room for creativity.

But is it ethical to try to get people to do what you want them to do?

As long as you have other people’s best interests at heart.

Assuming the vast majority of us aren’t out to rip off, cheat or hoodwink other people, most of us could benefit from honing our powers of persuasion. It might be maniplative but I that doesn’t matter as long as your reasons for wanting someone to say yes to your ideas will benefit both of you.

Who wants to be more persuasive?

Most of us could gain from expanding our powers of persuasion, especially:

  1. Business people
    If you run your own business you need to know how to sell your products or services. You actually need to be able to sell yourself to your clients and convince them that you’re the best person to do business with.
  2. Employees
    If you’d like to negotiate with your boss for a pay rise, better working conditions, part-time work or working from home, then it’s handy to know the best way to present it to him or her so you get the go ahead.
  3. Job seekers
    If you’re writing job appication letters and resumes or want to know how to win over your interviewer face to face.
  4. Parents
    Any parent who’s ever wondered how they can get their kids to turn off the tv when asked, get ready for school or write a thank you letter will appreciate how handy persuasive powers could be.
  5. Bloggers
    Some of you may fall into more than one of these groups. I seem to fall into most of them.

Here are five useful tips from Yes!: 50 secrets from the science of persuasion. I’ve included examples of how they could be used in specific situations but I think we need to get creative with them. Have a think about it and work out how you can adapt them to make the most of your particular situation.

5 Tricks For Getting People To Say Yes

1. Enlist the mob mentality

People like to do what other people do. We all like to think we follow our own path in life but the herd mentality is powerful. If we see something is popular with the masses we tend to want a piece of the action too.

Ideas for applying this: Business owners – If you already have 650 happy customers telling your leads about your sizeable clientbase could help win their business.

2. Let people know they’re getting a good deal

Let people know how following your suggestion will help them too.

Ideas for applying this: Parents – If you’re struggling to get your kids out of the house in the mornings reward them for getting on with it by offering a reward on Fridays – a tuck shop lunch, computer time at the weekend or a free pass to the movies should do the trick. Is it bribery and corruption? Maybe but if it works and keeps you sane I think it’s a valid way to help your kids get into good habits.

I wouldn’t pay my kids to behave as I’d like them to but don’t have a problem with encouraging them to behave well by withholding things they love it they don’t.

3. Fear is a great motivator

You may feel bad using this one but if it convinces people and what you tell them is true there’s no harm. Most importantly, you have to find a solution to the their fear.

Ideas for applying this: Employees – Let’s say you want to work from home. To begin with come up with something your boss might be scared of if she doesn’t agree, for example, losing your valued employment, losing customers, reduced productivity or higher expenses. Then subtley think of a way to introduce the idea as something that could happen if they don’t trial your working from home one day a week.

After a few months of one day during which you show that you work better from home you can ask for it to be increased to more days a week.

4. Don’t ask for too much

Sometimes the best approach is to ask for something small to begin with then when you’ve built up a trusting relationship you can try asking for more.

Ideas for applying this: Job seekers – Let’s say you’re looking for a mentor. Don’t bombard them or ask for too much. Send a short email with one question or ask them face to face and emphasise that just one minute of their time will help. If you get that then you can try the same tactic the next week. With luck and respect you might be able to build up an ongoing relationship with them.

5. Explain why

This is simple and effective. Use the word because to explain why you want the person to follow your request.

Ideas for applying this: Bloggers – Tell your readers that you’d like them to subscribe to the RSS feed or get email updates because then they won’t miss out on your blog updates and because you’re trying to grow your readership.

You might also want to explain that you’d love it if they stumble or tweet your posts with the tools below because that also helps you get more readers And that you’d enjoy it if they leave a comment because you love getting feedback:)

Seriously! Please share any tips

It’s ironic that I had this post scheduled for today because this morning I had a terrible battle with my five year old daughter. Her normal school shoes were wet so she had to wear another pair she hates. This resulted in about 45 minutes of her crying and tearing off the offending foot wear. Most of in front of a large audience at school and during a torrential downpour.

I tried to persuade her it wasn’t that bad. That is was only for one day. That a lot of the other kids wore those shoes. That at least she had a spare pair or she would have had to go round with soggy feet all day. That no one would notice the shoes if she calmed down. That tomorrow her other shoes would be dry.

Nothing worked.

I guess sometimes you just have to accept defeat and accept that no amount of persuasion will sway some people.

Want more ideas?

If you like these tips and they’ve whetted your appetite you might want to buy the book now on Amazon or borrow it from your local library.

Find out more about or buy Yes! 50 Secrets from the science of persuasion.

Thank You For Reading

A warm welcome to Zen Habits readers who’ve come here after seeing my guest post 5 Ways To Travel More With Less and to all the new subscribers who came here via my guest post on Dumb Little Man, How To Never Get Into Fincancial Difficulties.

And of course a big welcome back to the old faithfuls.

I really appreciate your visit.

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Photo credit: Mastro Biggo.

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  1. Tom | Build That List March 2, 2010 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    I always got taught to focus on what they will be missing if they don’t do what you want – instead of focusing on what they would get. Thanks for the tips :D

  2. Neeraj Bhushan March 2, 2010 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    One of the best writing pieces I’ve come across. Please keep sharing. Best.

  3. Annabel Candy March 2, 2010 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    Tom – Great way of putting it:)

    Neeraj – Just got back from my writing group to find your comment. Best incentive I could have had to keep writing. Many thanks.

  4. Randall March 2, 2010 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    The last story is so funny! Unless of course you were the one telling it! My middle daughter went through a phase where it did not matter what pair of sock she tried on they would all feel “weird”. It was a battle everyday! That went on for probably six months but eventually ended! It was touch and go for a while whether or not I would allow her to grow up and into adulthood.
    It is not always possible to persuade people. It is a great realazation when you understand that not all people can be convinced. It is a greater one when you reach the maturity to find that you just don’t care! As a reforming people pleaser, I have found great freedom in the fact that I can excercise some calloussness and say to myself “I don’t care about some people’s reactions anymore!
    At some point in your life it is in fact. your turn, you have given of yourself, paid your dues, and you do actually deserve something for yourself!
    On persuading difficult people, I have discovered that there are an enourmous amount of folks walking around in a funk of continuous insecurity. I have found it useful to simply validate these people’s little points of light that they are capable of. Meaning, when they do something right, validate it. I don’t mean kissing ass, but if they do something right (everyone does something right), just simply let them know that they have had a success! Some people have never had that one person in thier life that gave them that security of knowing that not everyone is against them. I have had an impossible boss for the last two years, four weeks ago I began (in spite of how I felt) giving him praise for the good things he had done. Believe me, it was hard to find!
    Four weeks later our relationship has changed dramatically. He is not guarded, he is not defensive all the time and he communicates out of a sense of security with me now.
    I learned a long time time ago that if you want other people to change, sometimes you have to change first! If you want your life to change, you must change first, so on and so on!!

  5. Robin Dickinson March 2, 2010 at 2:57 pm - Reply

    Thanks, Annabel.

    There are two types of persuasion. The easy way and the hard way.

    The hard way treats persuasion as something that is done TO people. This relies on manipulative tricks, techniques and tactics. Simply put – talking your way in.

    The easy way treats persuasion as something that is done FOR people. This relies on completely tuning in to the wants and needs that are most important to the other person. Simply put – listening your way in.

    Best, Robin :)

  6. Annabel Candy March 2, 2010 at 7:41 pm - Reply

    Randall – Lol! Yes, I think I’ve had the sock battle in the past too! My daughter is home from school now and tells me that if her trainers are ever wet again she’ll wear the shoes without crying. Apparently they weren’t as bad as she thought. Hope she remembers next time. I think she made a speedier recovery than me.

    It is true that you have to know when to not bother trying to persuade people of something and excellent that you’ve improved your relationship with your boss and even his behaviour just by changing your own behaviour. Well done. It’s not as easy as it should be to change our habits and actions so glad you found it a worthwhile exercise. Watch out, he might give you a promotion next.

    Robin – I’m listening:) I know this is a key sales technique and I think it works well in all relationships too. If we really feel as if someone is hearing us and understands us we naturally trust them and want to please them. Thank you:)

  7. Srinivas Rao March 3, 2010 at 2:51 am - Reply


    That last story is pretty funny. It’s ironic how on the day’s we write up some our best life lessons, we get to test them immediately. I’ve worked in sales for several years and I’ve devoured material on persuasion as well. One thing I realized is that persuasion has to be something that is done without force. One great example I have from when I was younger was trying to convince a friend to go to a rave with me. He was adamant about not going even though I battled for an hour at a bar trying to convince him. Then as we were drinking on a saturday afternoon he suddenly changed his mind. I realized that persuasion is largely about allowing people to feel like they are in control of their decision and that nobody else is controlling their decision making process.

  8. Ryan March 3, 2010 at 8:14 am - Reply

    Be really good at what you do. Establish yourself as an authority. People will flock to you and many will say “Yes” quickly, easily.

  9. Fida March 3, 2010 at 8:18 am - Reply

    I know why I always show up here to get more of your advice;)

  10. Fida March 3, 2010 at 8:20 am - Reply

    lol…when I pressed the Submit button, the message showed up: “Sorry, you are looking for something that isn’t here….”..ha, I already got it…grin.

  11. J.D. Meier March 3, 2010 at 11:43 am - Reply

    Good stuff.

    One of the most important guidelines is always rapport before influence.

    It also helps to know somebody’s “convincer strategy” (which is basically their meta-program for how they end up convinced.) For example, some people need to hear something from 3 different people, some people need to see it for themselves … etc. When I didn’t know the convincer strategy of the people I have to influence at work, I wasted a lot of time … too much time.

  12. JenG March 3, 2010 at 12:16 pm - Reply

    I highly recommend the book Switch, which just came out by Chip and Dan Heath. (I mean, literally just came out March 1.) The subtitle here is “How to Change Things When Change is Hard,” which is really another version of persuation. I talk about the basic premise of the book on my blog, but they have tons of good (and non-intuitive) tips. For example, hope is more powerful a tool than fear (last election is a great example). Anyway, enjoyed reading this post. Consider me a new subscriber!

  13. Annabel Candy March 3, 2010 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    Srinivas – Great point. Less force, more making them think they came to the decision by themselves. This is definitely especially important with your spouse/nearest and dearest:)

    Ryan – That sounds good and then you have the social proof sewn up too…

    Fida – These computers are tricky. If I could persuade mine to do what I want it to 100% of the time I’d be even happier.

    J.D. – Convincer strategies sound fascinating. I need to find out more about those. It is easier to buy something off someone you know and like. And therefore probsably more persuasive not to do the hard sell until you’ve built up a trusting relationship.

    JenG – Thanks for the book recommendation and for joining us. Hope sounds more appealing than fear as a way of winning people over too. Scare tactics seem bullyish but dangling a carrot more reasonable. I think most of us are optomists at heart and want to believe things will get better.

  14. Jay Hepner March 4, 2010 at 5:13 am - Reply

    One of the best strategies for dealing with little-kid tantrumitis was from Faber and Maizlish’s How to Talk So Kids Will Listen (And Listen So Kids Will Talk.

    Say, “Wouldn’t it be great if you could wear your favorite shoes everyday, and never had to wear shoes you don’t like? Wouldn’t that be great?”

    By empathizing that deeply with her, and more importantly, giving her the gift of the fantasy-perfect situation, you help defuse the tension inherent in her current reality.

    Used to work for me pretty well, when I remembered in the heat of things to use it.

    Still works with my daughter, now almost thirteen. When I remember to use it.

  15. Isao March 4, 2010 at 10:54 pm - Reply

    I liked the last line, accepting defeat, which makes this post truly stick out. I see – people never say yes unless they want to say yes, and persuasion might all be about making them feel they are making the best decision on their own. Gosh all this thinking experiment has no effect upon a five-year old child…

  16. Armen Shirvanian March 5, 2010 at 4:26 am - Reply

    Hi Annabel.

    I must say that that 50 ways persuasion book sure is great. I read it and knew it would be a relevant resource to refer back to.

    Not asking for too much is a smart thing. Asking for something is also a smart thing. That would mean to ask for small things, which makes sense. It can work into other folks’ schedules and desires, so that is where we should stay in requests.

    I see point #3 about fear all over the place. It is used so much. A big chunk of advertising is meant to make folks fear that how they are in their current state is not going to lead them to what they want. It works very well in getting folks to purchase.

  17. Annabel Candy March 5, 2010 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    Jay – Love your comments. I really think I could have handled the shoe thing better. Unfortunately I didn’t realise how strongly she felt about the other shoes and there was the typical morning rush to deal with. I like your tip and do find it effective with my kids. I often say when they ask for junk food “oh, wouldn’t it be lovely if we could eat icecream, chocolate and candy all day long.” They get the message:) I think I know that book. Maybe time for a reread!

    Isao – Great to see you here. Yes, I think kids of that age defy reason sometimes. Knowing when to give up on something is so important and I think I often carry on too long when I should just move on. Getting better but still something I need to be aware of:)

    Armen – Thanks for commenting. The fear one doesn’t sit well with me I must admit. But the asking for something small is so smart. Get them hooked and used to saying yes before going for the big one:)

  18. Connie March 6, 2010 at 6:27 am - Reply

    Annabel you always make me want to say YES :-)

  19. » Blogging Advice Exclusive: How One Small Blogger (Me) Sought Advice From Eight Top Bloggers (And Got It)  Self Improvement and Personal Development: Get In the Hot Spot March 30, 2010 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    […] followed some of the tips I shared in 5 Tricks For Getting People To Say Yes. Specifically, I explained that it would only take two minutes of their time by using the subject […]

  20. Sidra February 22, 2011 at 3:17 am - Reply

    Yeah brilliant mate! :)

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