A psychological backdoor: one word that will increase the likelihood of people saying "yes" by 34%.
How to choose your words carefully
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My career has been built on my ability to transform words into weapons.
I’m going to share one of the most simple, and elegant weapons in my arsenal. Something that, when used appropriately, will have people kindly accepting your every request.
No more unanswered emails, no more circling back, and no more being left on read.
By tactically incorporating this one single word, the chances of your requests being accepted will jump significantly.
We’re skeptical of simple solutions
Saying that you only need to include a new phrase—let alone a single word—into your requests, sound like bullshit.
We believe that, in order to become more persuasive we need to.
Be disingenuous or sneaky.
Become a charismatic smooth talker.
Gain a more powerful position at work.
But I’m here to tell you that’s not the case at all.
You don’t need to re-write your personality. You don’t need to become a eloquent trickster, and you don’t need to compromise your ethics to become more persuasive.
You simply need to start including one simple word in all of your requests.
And that’s, because…
In 1978, Ellen Langer conducted a study at Harvard testing this very idea. Could you hijack someones rational sensibilities with a single word?
The word they tested in this experiment was “because”.
Secretly, researchers were planted in an office, at the end of a long line. Waiting to use the one-and-only copy machine in the building.
But instead of standing in line, they jumped to the front, and asked politely, one of three pre-formulated requests:
This was the most simple of the requests. No use of the word “because” at all.
60% of the time people allowed them to skip in line.
This request added a “because” statement, followed by a legitimate reason.
94% of the time people allowed them to skip in line.
The request used “because”, but was followed by a completely erroneous reason—of course you have to make copies, everyone in line needs to make copies!
93% of the time people allowed them to skip in line.
All people need is a justification
The power of the word because reaches beyond rationality, and into the realm of psychology and persuasion.
While there is still a tiny marginal benefit to using a legitimate reason—instead of a bullshit one—the real power is in using the word because.
The word because is a transition that we’re subconsciously scanning for in sentences. Everything before the word is lead up, and everything after the word is justification.
Our brain doesn’t seem to care what the justification is, as long as it exists.
The word because just acts as a signal that we found one.
It’s a big checkered flag waving in our minds saying “Yup! We should do what they say, there’s a rational and reasonable explanation for this request!”
But why do we do this?
Because the world is complex
Navigating an office job—with the unspoken hierarchies, relationships, desires and deadlines—would literally melt our brain if we had thoughtfully analyze each element in a single day.
That’s why we outsource nearly all of our little decisions to habit. Often times, these habits are set into motion from one single cue.
One tiny hint from our environment tells us that we shouldn’t use our full brain, but rather, our autopilot brain.
Robert Cialdini, author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion calls this single action cue, a Trigger Feature.
And believe it or not, our secret weapon because is one of those trigger features.
Can you do the dishes? I can’t because I had a long day.
Our brains are not rational thinking machines.
Not always at least.
Much of the time, we’re executing habits that help speed along the easy and repetitive tasks for the day. Imagine having to use your full mental capacity to fold laundry?
That would be exhausting.
Instead we can day-dream, plan, and reserve our full mental might for truly worthy tasks.
This leaves the opportunity for little back-doors into our brain. There are dozens of them, and the word because is a key.
So the next time you send out a LinkedIn connection request, ask your boss for time off, or are simply trying to get out of doing the dishes…
Try out your new key, and see what doors it opens for you.
P.S. If you liked this post, and it would mean the world to me if you shared it with just one person.
You don’t have to broadcast it to all of twitter, just sending it to one friend would make a huge difference!