Are there really persuasive phrases that work like magic? Even with those difficult-to-deal-with people? Yes, there are. And, there’s one that is perhaps the most powerful and effective of them all.
A reader asked:
“Bob, as you know, some people are just not helpful, and they don’t plan to be. I’ve heard you mention what you call, ‘The Eight Key Words.’ I don’t mean to appear doubtful, but it seems like just too much of a ‘magic bullet’ that really can’t work in the real world. I hope I’m wrong. Can you explain what you mean?”
Great question. And, although I touched on this in an article last year as part of another topic, it’s such a life-transforming phrase, I’d like to focus on it here. Of course, it isn’t really a magic bullet. After all, there is a logical reason why it works so effectively. However, the results will seem like magic as you utilize it for the rest of your life. When set up correctly, this phrase — what I call, The Eight Key Words — will absolutely move practically any difficult person over to your side of the issue.
We all face the following situation at one time or another; we need a customer (dis)service rep, (un)civil servant, or similar-type person to help us to do something they don’t have to help us to do. It’s easier for them to do as little as possible, or even refuse us altogether.
So, what do we do? How do we handle the situation so that we get what we want, while, of course, allowing them to feel good about themselves and helping them learn how to be more helpful to others in the future?
We begin by letting the person have their say. While they tell us why “it can’t be done” we simply listen with a polite countenance, without interrupting. If we interrupt, we make them angry and strengthen their resolve to be un-accommodating.
Next, we agree with them. “What?”, you may ask. “Why would you do that?”
Because, it gently disarms them. We’re not disagreeing with them so there is, in fact, no argument. At least not from our end. And, let’s fact it — nobody argues with themselves! (What are they going to say, “No, you’re wrong…I’m…wrong!” — I don’t think so). Instead, try, “You’re absolutely correct. I totally understand what you’re saying. Rules are rules and need to be respected.”
Now, help them to move into the solution by suggesting a way they can do what you need them to do while still feeling as though they are in control. What you say, of course, will depend upon your unique circumstances. It typically isn’t very difficult since doing what’s needed usually isn’t that difficult.
Thus far you’ve been polite, patient, and courteously persistent (credit Zig Ziglar with the term “courteously persistent”). The person knows you plan to get what you want, but you’ve been so pleasant to deal with, not only can they not be angry with you, they’d actually “like” to help you. That is key!
Of course, they can’t “lose face” in front of you, so you need to help them along. Now is when you say the “Eight Key Words”, or what I call, “The Phrase that Persuades.”
Here it is:
“If you can’t do it, I’ll definitely understand.”
Here you’ve done two main things. First, you’ve given them an “out” — a “backdoor.” You haven’t painted them into a corner from which he or she cannot escape but, instead, made them feel very comfortable, not pressured. You’ve also “gently challenged” them to use their power for good, being part of the solution instead of the problem. They now want to do for you, that which they wouldn’t do for most others.
If appropriate, after the “Eight Key Words” you can say, “If you could, I’d certainly appreciate it.” Then, while they’re in the process, you can add what I call the “coup de grace”, which is “Of course, don’t get yourself in any hot water over it.”
Wow — talk about moving a person over to your side of the issue!
What you’ve really accomplished is to reposition the conflict from “you against them” to “you and them”…against the system. You’ve also shown faith in them that you believe they can come through, but have also assured them that if they can’t, it’s okay. That you value them more than you value the result. You’ve completely taken the pressure off, while causing them to want to help you.
Utilize this consistently, in any situation in which you’re dealing with an unhelpful person. You’ll both come out winners. And, you’ll truly master the art of positive persuasion.