What Convinces People to Say “Yes”?

burning matches

In life and work, we need people to say “yes” to us. But what makes people say “yes”?  According to communications industry expert Richard Storey, to convince people to say “yes”, you’ll need to take into account the following factors:

Their underlying principles and values

Underpinning all our lives are principles and values that we hold to be true. Principles are “accepted rules of action or conduct”; they influence and guide our behaviour, and can differ hugely from person to person.  Values explain why we behave as we do. If you are seeking agreement from someone, it is key to take their principles and values into account and allude to them when seeking to persuade them. You can identify their principles and values by:

  • Paying attention to the principles and values they live by, for example through their words and behaviours
  • Asking “open questions” (questions that invite an answer other than a “yes” or “no”)
  • Asking others who know them about what is important to them

Their beliefs and opinions

My dictionary defines belief as an “opinion or a conviction”; it is “confidence in the truth or existence or something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof”. As such, beliefs can be transient or short-term: it doesn’t take long for children to lose their belief in the Easter Bunny, for example. Proof can challenge a belief, and time can dislodge it.  As such, you should provide adequate proof to influence someone to your point of view.  To identify someone’s beliefs, listen closely to their words. Be prepared to challenge their view. For example, some will express seemingly insurmountable barriers with “limiting language” such as “can’t”, “shouldn’t”, “always” or ‘never”. The trick, according to Storey, is to unravel the meaning of their worldview by helping them to realign their language with their experience. Here are two examples to show you how you can achieve this:

Belief: “It’s not going to work.”

Challenge: “How could it work?”

Belief: “I should keep a copy of this document.”

Challenge: “What would happen if you didn’t hold on to it? How do you know?”

These “challenge questions” are useful not only because they challenge limitations, but also because they allow the other person to explore novel ways forward.

What they want and what they need

To influence another, it is fundamental to identify their needs.  Needs are essential requirements that must be met. Once again, to identify a person’s needs, you will need to listen to their words and ask open questions. Phrases such as “It is important…” and qualifying words such as “essential” are clues that help you identify a person’s needs. 

Wants are desires; they are non-essentials. A want can be anything from a luxury spa treatment to a new treadmill. They are important, too; as Storey maintains, their fulfilment can be the icing on your influencing cake – after you have secured agreement to your proposal.

By meeting people’s needs and wants, matching their principles and values and providing the necessary proof to dislodge “limiting beliefs”, you are more likely to achieve your “yes”.  Harness these tips to strengthen your proposals.