One of the most effective ways to persuade someone to take a certain action is to communicate very clearly to them the fact that…they don’t have to take that action.
Counter-intuitive? Yes. And, very productive.
What I’m suggesting is that you give them an “out.” An out, or “backdoor”, is a way of letting a person feel comfortable with you and the situation by providing them with an emotional escape route. This removes any pressure they might feel – whether from you or self-inflicted – because they have a choice.
Human nature dictates that the greater the level of choice one has, the less he or she feels the need to exercise that choice.
Often used in the sales process in order to make the prospect more relaxed and amenable, it can be utilized in any aspect of positive persuasion, whether dealing with a friend, family member, co-worker or the customer (dis)service representative who needs just a bit of help in order to make your experience with that company a bit more pleasant.
In Winning Without Intimidation I suggest what I call, “The Eight Key Words That Will Practically Always Move a Person to Your Side of The Issue.” After displaying politeness and patience, you simply say:
“If you can’t do it, I’ll definitely understand.”
If need be (and need probably won’t be), you can follow up by gently saying, “If you could, I’d certainly appreciate it.” Then, if need still be (which I can almost guarantee it won’t) you finish with, “Of course, don’t get yourself in any hot water over it.”
You have honored this person by totally removing pressure and giving him or her the option to escape through the backdoor. This, instead of painting them into a corner where their ego will have to in some way prevail. You’ve also just “gently challenged” them to come through and do their best, while assuring them that they are worth more to you than whether they can deliver what you want.
As Blair Warren advises, “In our quest to gain compliance, we would be wise to remember that sometimes the best way to get people to do things is to remind them that they don’t have to.”