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How to Persuade Others to Do What I Want

How to Persuade Others to Do What I Want

How to Persuade Others to Do What I Want

At the start of our leadership training courses, when I ask people what they want to gain from the course, they often say, "I want to learn how to make people do what I want."

The problem with that is; you don't have the power to MAKE people do what you want.

Force does not work well.

You can try forcing them, by coercing, shouting, threatening, but that rarely works out well.

It creates bad blood, and when people do things under duress, they usually do them badly.

Reframe the question.

Our problem lies with the wording of original question, which is badly framed.

Rather than asking, "How can we make people do what we want?" the question should be reframed as, "How can we gain people's willing cooperation?"

The keywords are "Willing cooperation." When we frame the question this way, it opens the door to a much more effective way of managing people. Ideally, we want to cause people to want to do, what we're asking them to do.

How to gain their willing co-operation?

We start by recognising that everything people do, they do because they believe that by acting in that way, they will gain some kind of benefit.

That's true for all behaviours.

Even self-destructive behaviours are done because people believe that by acting in that way, they gain some kind of benefit.

They may be mistaken in their belief, but the fact remains that they believe they are in some way, benefiting or gaining.

For example, people smoke because they believe that on balance, the benefits outweigh the risks.

People shout at other people, because they believe that shouting brings them benefits.

Everything people do, they do because they believe that by acting this way, it will bring them benefits.

We gain people's willing cooperation by framing the task as being in some way beneficial to them.

Long-Term Versus Short-Term Benefits

An important point to note is that there is often a difference between the short-range and long-range consequences of any given behaviour.

For example, shouting seems to bring results short-term, because people back down, but in the long-term, they leave.

Staying in bed too long seems to bring short-term benefits like additional comfort. But in the long-term they lose their job for bad timekeeping.

Smoking cigarettes and eating bad food seems to bring benefits because it brings momentary pleasures; but long-range, it is not healthy.

Switch the focus to long-range benefits.

When people don't want to do things, it's because they associate pleasurable benefits (short-term) for NOT doing it.

Your task is to draw their attention to the painful long-term consequences if they don't do it and the pleasurable long-term benefits if they do.

Whenever you can associate pleasurable long-term benefits with a given behaviour, the person will be more likely to switch to it.

It's important to recognise, acknowledge, and understand the short-range consequences that are feeding the behaviour, but then quickly move the conversation and "sell the benefits" of change to the person.

Different kinds of Benefits

It's best to frame the benefits as personal benefits to the person you are trying to persuade.
There are seven kinds of benefits you can "sell" them on:

1. Money: If the person acts in this new way, they could, in the long run, earn more money.

2. Achievement: If the person changes their behaviour to the new way, they will be able to achieve more.

3. Security: If the person makes the change in line with your suggestion, then their position in the team is made more secure.

4. Respect: If the person changes their behaviour, then they would gain the respect of colleagues and friends.

5. Recognition: If the person changes, they will gain official recognition.

6. Pleasure: If the person changes in the way you suggest, they will have fun doing it.

7. Personal pride: If the person changes, they will feel good about themselves for "doing the right thing."

Reframe the question.

When you start your day, don't ask yourself, "How can I make people do as I say?"

Instead, ask question: "How can I gain people's willing cooperation?"

Spend your time answering the second question, and you will have one of the keys to a more successful life.

How to Successfully Manage Yourself and Others

Our Leadership and Management Course will teach you how to successfully manage yourself and other people.

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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