In Robert Cialdini’s book Influence he quotes a study that tested ‘because’ with people queuing to use a photocopier. The first time the person just asked to cut in front of the queue with a 60% agreement. The second time they asked to go in front because they had a lecture in 2 mins. This time they got 94% agreement and the third time they just said can I go in front because I want to make some copies and again 93% of people said yes.
So when you want someone to do something give them a reason – the most powerful reasons will be talking to pain and gain of course; some might simply use this technique with spurious reasons all the time but after a while people will become more wary or perhaps more weary.
And its not just about getting people to act it’s the way in which they act, if we are given instructions to do something then on the whole we’ll do it but if we understand the reason i.e. the because then the way in which we do the task, how we feel about it and the efficacy and efficiency can be quite different.
If it’s about influencing your clients give them a reason that is simple and factual – too much detail and it’s too much to process and if it’s too much doom and gloom people will focus on that and not what it is that you are asking them to do.
And it works with children too they like reasons and its a way of pre-empting the inevitable ‘why’ question !