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One of the central themes in a vast majority of business books, either explicit or implicit, is the idea of getting others to do what you want. Of course on paper that has a negative connotation and even comes across as manipulative. However, within the context of these suggestions, it is neither. In fact, people by nature have a burning desire to help. Unfortunately, most of us haven’t the slightest idea on how to coax that out of our fellow man in a productive and positive manner.
These tricks will help you accomplish the highest of leadership skills more consistently, accompanied by some books that talk about this topic either directly or indirectly.
Ask a Favor
Perhaps the most counterintuitive tip on our list, asking someone for help, even someone who doesn’t like you, is often the quickest way to not only get what you want but also to win a new ally in the process. In fact, one of the most influential men of all time, Benjamin Franklin, wrote about this theory centuries ago when he was quoted as saying:
“He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged.”
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
“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.”
Turns out aiming high is not only effective in the world of goal setting, but in influencing people to do what you wish of them as well. Most will be at least somewhat familiar with the infamous quote from legendary football coach Vince Lombardi regarding the importance of this tenet of success:
“Perfection is impossible, but if we chase perfection, we just might catch excellence.”
Of course, this is not topical to influence, but rather goal setting and general performance within one's chosen area of profession, in this case, the sport of Football. However, it turns out aiming high when trying to win someone over to help you is critical as well. The theory is that if you ask someone for an outrageous favor, say to drive you two hours to pick up something from a storage unit, they are likely to say no. However, if you then come back to them and ask them to do something much less outlandish along the same vein, i.e. hey can you drive me 15 minutes to go pick up my laundry? They will likely feel bad for not helping you the first time and thus be more likely to oblige the second time around.
A Seat at the Table by Marc Miller
"The only thing your customer cares about is value.”
Any seasoned executive, sales person, or anyone else skilled in interpersonal communications will tell you that using a person’s name when you request something from them, or for that matter, any other time you address them, will automatically cast you in a more favorable light with them. A person’s name is the single best-sounding word to their own ears that you can possibly utter, so when you use it as a prefix to a request, it subconsciously validates their value to you in their mind, making them more inclined to assist.
How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
One method used masterfully within the marketing space is the idea that when you really want something big from someone, first find a way to get a small buy-in. A great example of this is email marketing. A company wanting you to eventually buy a $500 piece of software will in all likelihood not start with that request, but rather with something much easier for you to accept, say a free piece of valuable content in exchange for your email address. Once they have your email, the company will periodically send you fresh content peppered with offers from the company that moves you subtly further down their sales funnel. This process in some percentage of cases ultimately terminates with the customer buying that $500 piece of software that the company wanted you to purchase all along.
Influence: Science and Practice by Robert B. Cialdini
“Embarrassment is a villain to be crushed.”
A Tried and True Method
This is a classic example in negotiations. You always hear "wear them down and then go in for the close." That saying comes from the scientific fact that when we’re tired we have fewer reserves to resist. While you’re unlikely to get a "yes" and much more likely to get something like, "I’ll do that tomorrow," once someone commits to that, most people like to honor their word and thus generally will actually do it tomorrow.
Success: One Day at a Time by John C. Maxwell
“The only guarantee for failure is to stop trying.”