The Most Influential Word (WT431)Blog
Would you like to know one of the most influential words in the English language?
I was shocked to learn this recently, yet it makes perfect sense.
You might be surprised to learn the word is “Because”.
According to Robert Cialdini, in his classic book “Influence”, “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.”
In his book, Cialdini refers to a university study that tested people’s willingness to let others push in front of them in a line to photocopy. The results were astounding:
- In the first experiment, about 60% of people agreed to let the person in. The stated request was “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?”
- In the second experiment, the request was slightly changed to, “I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I am in a rush?” Ninety four percent agreed to let the requestor go in front.
- In the third experiment, 93% allowed the requestor to push in, with the request “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make copies?”
The third reason was hardly a reason, yet it appears that we are more likely to agree when someone gives us a reason for their request.
Something for you to think about.
Similarly, we like to hear reasons when someone needs to break a commitment or change plans. I don’t know about you but I am much more accepting of someone rescheduling an appointment if they give me a reason, as opposed to simply communicating, “I can’t make it” or “I need to reschedule”.
Blogger, Gregory Ciotti, suggests that we flag features and product traits to create an incentive for customers to act, but to remember to use “because” when pointing out the compelling reasons. In other words, be sure to mention the benefits and the benefit of the benefit.