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Get People To Say "Yes" With One Simple Conversational Trick

Getting to "yes" is easier than you think with this this time-tested—and clinically supported—method for making convincing arguments and persuading people to do what you want.

There are lots of techniques for becoming more persuasive, but perhaps the simplest, most practical technique is the "But You Are Free" method. A review of 42 psychology studies (on 22,000 people) suggests this technique could double the chances someone would say "yes" to you. Read on to see how this works. If you want to, that is.

See what I did there? That's the "But You Are Free" technique, basically: Make a request, but acknowledge the other person has a choice. PsyBlog explains that this persuasion technique reaffirms the person's freedom of choice and indirectly tells the other person that you're not threatening his/her ability right to say no.

The actual words you use don't seem to matter; according to the meta-analysis published this year by Christopher Carpenter in Communication Studies, you could add to your request, "but obviously do not feel obliged" or "but you are free" and both would be effective—especially if you're asking something of someone face-to-face.

Obviously, you wouldn't want to use this technique all the time, lest you start looking like someone with passive-aggressive issues ("Hey, honey, can you take out the garbage? But you are free not to"), but acknowledging the other person's ability to choose could make them feel more empowered (and on your side). It even works on stubborn children and adults sometimes ("I like this choice best. But you're free to choose another one.")

Whether you decide to incorporate this technique into your persuasive arsenal is, of course, up to you.

—Reprinted with permission from Lifehacker

[Image: Flickr user Doug Wheller]

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  • Jack Marco

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  • Steven Ringsmuth Stolpman

    Bonus Material: if you authentically prime yourself to respect and accept the other person's freedom to say "no," then your own freedom to have peace of mind will be preserved when you actually hear it.

  • Guest

    What you are describing is classic passive aggressive behavior, I had a boss one time that did this to us so much we all went like crazy. In the end, if you had asked all the guys most would have said they would rather taken a beating from him than listen to any more of this shit. It's monstrous and abusive when done constantly (and like in the case of my boss he only wants you to THINK you have a choice) : )

  • Imran

    but you are free" and both would be effective--especially if you're asking something of someone face-to-face.

  • Martin_Naess

    Office Space: "Hey i'm going to eat lunch next door, you're welcome to join me. And if you can't, that's cool too."

    It worked :)

  • Towdros Wodajo

    "dear   knoldege,  i   made   the   low   at   home   to   save  the   world"              - 21-

    "this  is  forword,  with   1   towards,  right   here   in   toronto   silent  everybody"  -23-

    "this   my,   qustaion   to  know,   whot   happen,   in   the   toronto   border?"      -32-

    "this   is   happen,  how   ran   to   be,  a   leedar,  like  marta,   ha77   open 

    the   oxford   dictionary    what   is   poll   mean?   -3-   who   cut    off   the   horns

    of    (cattle)  alife   to   be   leader"                                                                        -48-

    "if   you   don,t   want    to   do   like,   that   you   are  not   knowldege,   how   can   i , 

    vot   to   you,  there   is   no   way    unlass   you   muest   tell    me   your   power"      -50-

    "if   ' you   blive  (666) ,   we   well   be  ' agree,   and    we   can   figer   out   the   true"    -66

    "that   is    the   tuue,  thank   you   so   muche   knowldege"                                      -77-     

  • Shibu Arens

    One method I find that works best, coming from leadership organizing, is the "hard ask" method. You ask the person a yes/no question, and leave it hanging, embracing the silence until they bring the most honest answer into the silence. It's admittedly more aggressive, but it gets results very efficiently, and it gets honest results.

  • Imran

    "Hey i'm going to eat lunch next door, you're welcome to join me. And if you can't, that's cool too."

  • Bradford

    I don't know, dude, that was *MONTHS* ago....I'm sure he's booked for lunch somewhere else, by now....why are you stalking him?

  • Christina George

     Ugh. My husband enjoys this tactic. I, however, do not. I feel bad for the recipient of his "leadership" question even when it is not me.

  • Imran

    it was their idea in the first place to agree. It is part of a whole method pertaining to mind control

  • Bradford

    ...sounds almost like he's employing a type of "passive-aggressive" communication style...maybe try meeting him toe-to-toe w/a more assertive,
    "Well, what do YOU think?...", or an "I don't know, my mind is flexible...",
    ...or "I KNOW!, BOTH!...".... all of these, delivered with a self-assured smile, and loving intent, could work well for you...
    ...just sayin'...

  • Imran

    I think, is the technique of asking a series of questions to which you know you will get a yes which leads into the question for which you want a yes.

  • Bradford

    No, you're wrong. It's that "series of questions", which triggers the NYET response, comrade....So, again, NO!...

  • Wrecklesst

    This method is most assuredly for a different format not necessarily getting a 'yes' answer but getting a truthful or more factual response. the method you descride is used by law enforcement and others where digging for the truth is the goal not getting a yes answer for your question. the above is more about a sales like pitch trying to get people to feel like it was their idea in the first place to agree. It is part of a whole method pertaining to mind control where you make the other person do what you want but in the end they believe they have made up their own mind. it is really rather amazing what a well versed person can make others do. the really good con men are using these techniques to take advantage of people all the time. 

  • Dave (of changingminds)

    'clinically supported'. What a lovely persuasive spin. It's almost like your doctor recommends it.

  • Bradford

    ..."clinically supported" just means it can be monetized and financed and's the cutting edge of the IMF(*1) of the IMF(*2)...
    (*1): Int'l Monetary Fund
    (*2): Industrial-Military-Financial complex...

  • @NDR3$

    SALES you can use -In you opinion which one do you want or this is the one you want it help to to no were to go this depending in the business or situation you are in GOOD LUCK.
     only if you like to

  • Martin Haworth

    I'm thinking this needs to be as close to natural as you can get it...