Persuasion Tip from the Wizard of Oz

Remember why Dorothy and her gang were off to see the Wizard?

It was “because, because, because, because, because of the wonderful things he does.”

It turns out that the word “because” is incredibly persuasive when answering questions and making requests.

In the new book “Yes: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive”  authors Noah Goldstein, Steve Martin, and Robert Cialdini, detail an interesting study of the persuasive power of simply using the word “because” when giving a reason.

In the study, a stranger would approach a someone waiting in line to make a photocopy and ask “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?”  In that case, 60 percent of the people allowed the stranger to cut in line.

But if the stranger gave a reason (“May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush”), 94 percent allowed the stranger to jump ahead and make copies.

Here’s the interesting part. In a third trial, the stranger made the following request: “May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make copies.”  It was a meaningless reason! Yet the compliance rate was 93 percent.

The point is that the simple use of the word ‘because” increased compliance, even if the reason wasn’t particularly meaningful.

Now I’m not saying that you should give meaningless reasons in response to questions or when making requests. Of course you should have a meaningful reason.

But giving a reason – any reason — dramatically increases your persuasiveness.

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