The Answer is Because

I have been reading Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive by Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin and Robert B. Cialdini as part of a business book club, sponsored by the Miami Herald Newspaper.

My favorite tip was 35: "Which single word will strengthen your persuasion attempts?" The answer is "because."

An example of the use of "because" is in the Wizard of Oz. Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion sing along the yellow brick road, "We are off to see the wizard because because because because of the wonderful things he does."

Behavioral scientist Ellen Langer did a study. She arranged for a stranger to approach someone waiting in line to use a photocopier and ask, "Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the copy machine?" 60% said yes. However, when the person made a request with a reason, ("May I use the copy machine because I am in a rush?") 94% said yes. And here is the kicker. Even when the reason was rather meaningless (May I use the copy machine because I have to make copies?") 93% said yes.

However the use of because has its limitations. When the researchers increased the amount of pages to 20, the percentages changed dramatically. Only 24 percent complied without a rationale and the percentage remained the same for the meaningless rationale (I have to make copies.) The compliance rate doubled for the good rationale. The lesson learned is to always give a rationale and make it a good one whether it is to answer your children, request a raise, or asking for a favor.We can no longer say "because I said so"

Mary Greenwood, Attorney, HR Director, Mediator, and Author,
Second Edition 2012, How to Negotiate Like a Pro, winner of nine book awards
How to Interview Like a Pro, Winner of thirteen book awards, Editor's Choice and Star Edition,
How To Mediate Like A Pro, Winner of twelve book awards
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