Life & Beauty Weekly: Happy You


6 Ways to Get What You Want

By Anne L. Fritz for Life & Beauty Weekly

6 Ways to Get What You Want

When you ask your kids for more help around the house, do your requests fall on deaf ears? Do some people find it easy to say no to you at times?

Women, and especially mothers, excel at taking care of the needs of everyone around us. But when it comes to persuading someone — especially children — to do something for us, it can be difficult, says Dr. Graeme Haynes, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at St. Francis Xavier University.

Well, not anymore! You can learn to be persuasive — and do so without being bullish. The path to getting what you need is filled with obstacles, but if you present your case the right way, you will find success. Here’s how:

1. Remember that rules can be broken.
Don’t let a policy prevent you from asking for what you need or want. “If you never ask, you will never know,” says Haynes.

For example, if you want to return something after 35 days, but a store policy states 30 days is the limit, ask anyway. Simply be polite and apologetic. (Remember the saying “You attract more bees with honey than vinegar.”)

2. Give a good reason.
To be successful, you must state your case — all of it. “Giving a reason for a request is very effective at increasing the chance that you’ll get what you want,” says Haynes. “For example, asking a stranger for a quarter might be met with an abrupt ‘No,’ but adding, ‘because my parking meter is about to run out’ is more likely to yield a positive response. They might be more likely to empathize with the person in need if it reminds them of times when they faced a similar predicament.”

So, the next time you want to change tables at a crowded restaurant, don’t announce, “We want to move to that booth, please.” Try, “I’d like to move because this area is so loud I can’t hear my friend speak.” And if it’s a raise you’re after, tell your boss you deserve it because of specific contributions you have made — and name them.

3. Be results-oriented.
Only presenting a problem (e.g., “I haven’t gotten a raise in two years!”) puts the other person on the defense right away. “People are more likely to respond favourably to requests if they aren’t on the defensive,” says Haynes.

Likewise, if you place blame or waste time disagreeing over who is right and who is wrong (“No, the cable has been out since yesterday!”), it may only lead to a full-blown argument, not results.

Instead, summarize the problem without blaming anyone, then immediately suggest a few solutions. “It’s always to your advantage to make the first move and come prepared with arguments that support your cause,” says Haynes.

4. Ask for the moon. Get the stars.
Not sure what to propose? Whether you ultimately want more help around the house or retribution from the cable company, start by asking for something big, then negotiate.

“You’re much more likely to get what you want when you do this, due to what’s known in psychology as the ‘door-in-the-face’ effect,” says Haynes. “Say you’re trying to sell your old car for $5,000. If you ask a potential buyer for $7,500, they are likely to immediately reject this amount (i.e., shut the door in your face), but if you come back right away with $5,000, this seems like a much more reasonable amount, in contrast to the initial asking price.”

Fed up with gathering dirty clothes off your teenager’s bedroom floor? Calmly propose she start doing her own laundry. When she balks, negotiate the smaller task of her bringing clothes to the laundry room and sorting them herself.

5. Acknowledge the other side.
When trying to persuade someone, it’s important to listen to and address his or her objections. “If you want a person to see things your way or do something for you, you need to make them feel like their opinion is valid and understood,” says Haynes. “Think in advance of possible objections a person might make and come equipped with counterarguments.”

If you are met with resistance (which is likely when asking for a raise or something else substantial), try turning the tables. Ask your boss: “What do I need to do to get a raise?”

“People like their actions to be consistent with their words, so if your boss gives you a few specific things to do in order to earn a raise, he’s likely to follow through with it if you meet these expectations,” says Haynes.

6. Don’t take no for an answer.
If you can’t get exactly what you want, keep negotiating, and you’re likely to get some of your demands met, says Haynes. Your boss can’t afford to give you a raise? Acknowledge her position by saying, “I understand there’s no budget for a $10,000 salary hike, but I would like a sign from the company that it values me as an employee.” See what she says but be ready to put to use tricks No. 3 or 4: Propose they give you more vacation days or allow a more flexible schedule.

No matter the situation, if you approach it with confidence and use these tricks, over time you will develop the powers of persuasion. You may not always get exactly what you want, but you will gain satisfaction in trying.

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