4 proven ways to get people to say ‘yes’

Getting people to say “yes” to your requests doesn’t have to be time-intensive or difficult. You can get the response you want with a few proven strategies.

Photo: Michael Dam

When you need to ask a favor from someone, you hope you can count on the help of those around you. But mastering the art of persuasion seems awkward, and you may think you need a confident personality to do some convincing.

Are there simple ways you can get people to go along with a proposal or plan? To accomplish your goal, you’ll pull out all the stops to lock down an affirmative answer.

Getting people to say “yes” to your requests doesn’t have to be time-intensive or difficult. You can get the response you want with a few proven strategies. The following research-based strategies can increase your chances of receiving a positive answer.

1. Ask in person instead of over email

It may be quicker to shoot your coworker an email asking for a favor, but that might not convince them to say “yes.” Recent research by Cornell University professor Vanessa K. Bohns and Dr. Mahdi Roghanizad showed in-person requests were 34 times more effective in generating a positive response with their participants than emailed requests.

While this study dealt with strangers in different circumstances, each of your workplace requests doesn’t necessarily need a meetup to get the right results. But you can use this strategy in situations when you need extra help. Schedule an in-person meeting or stop by a coworker’s desk to present your proposal.

2. Give them something, and they’ll give you something in return

When someone does something for another person, they feel they need to make up for the gesture by paying back whatever kindness they received. This concept is called the reciprocity principle, and in most human interactions, it can give you added influence over someone.

You can increase the likelihood of someone answering “yes” to your request if you’ve made a charitable gesture toward your colleague or tried to connect with them. Even for someone who doesn’t think twice about receiving free things, the tendency to repay a person who gives them products or services is strong.

Your generosity can give you a better chance of gaining a person’s agreement. Offer them a cup of coffee or to help them with their paperwork, and you might get the “yes” you’re looking for.

3. Add credibility and show expertise

The people with the right titles, experience and authority can tip the scales in your efforts of persuasion. When you add credibility to your request, you gain trust, which is more likely to get you a “yes.” Part of gaining trust means you need to find someone who is competent in their line of work. And people trust experts in certain fields enough to follow their lead.

According to a study on obedience to authority, many members of an organization were willing to follow their authority’s orders, even if it negatively affected a fellow participant. While you shouldn’t use this tactic in harmful ways, this does demonstrate adding expertise to your request can boost its results.

The power an authority figure has motivates people to agree with you. Next time you ask for something, present your credentials and successful projects you’ve worked on. Ask your boss if they will support your request or find a reliable source that can enhance your proposal. You can have more success in your requests once you add credibility.

4. Present limits to create a sense of loss

Setting limitations may seem like your request will become less desirable, but you can increase the possibility of a “yes” when you create a sense of loss. The scarcity principle is a sales tactic where “limited-time” offers cause customers to get to the deal before others, which singles them out as unique owners of new products. But limits can help your workplace interactions, too.

If you let your coworker know you need their help or agreement by a certain time, the urgency can help them come to a decision. Also, giving a deadline and an immediate need can lead the person to a healthy sense of guilt.

Professor Monique Turner studied the marketing implications of guilt, and her research shows that when the appeal stays away from targeting intense guilty feelings, the response is better. Guilt can make people want to do the right thing, which in this case is agreeing to your request. Establish a timetable with a limited chance to help you out for a greater possibility of getting a “yes.”

Increase your chances of a positive response

When you’re trying to convince a client or a coworker to go along with your proposal, you need to approach them with the right tactics. Generate trust with them to make them feel comfortable and confident, and you can increase the possibility they’ll say “yes” to your requests.

This article was originally published on Punched Clocks.