Become a red hot master of persuasion with just one word

Imagine if you could increase the chances of someone saying yes to you by over thirty per cent by simply changing one word in your request? That word is because.

Because is an influential word. Because is persuasive because it’s a trigger. When people use the word because, it typically serves to justify a request that they have just made.

For example, in their now legendary Xerox research study, Langer, Blank, and Chanowitz explored how the language of requests influences the willingness of people to comply. To do this, they observed how well different requests to cut into the line at the library copier worked. They found when people ask to cut into the line to make five copies, they are successful about sixty per cent of the time, no questions asked. When the requestors add a reasonable justification for cutting into the line (‘. . . because I’m in a hurry’) the request becomes much more persuasive and compliance rockets to ninety-four per cent.

Why is the compliance level so improved? The use of the word because, that’s why!

The part of the study that really captured people’s attention though, is what happens when you add ‘because . . .’ paired with a meaningless justification: ‘Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I need to make copies?’ Duh! That surely would be why you’d be waiting to use the Xerox machine in the first place.

Despite the meaningless reason, the compliance rate for the ‘because I need to make copies’ request was a stunning ninety-three per cent. Giving no relevant reason was just as effective as giving a good one. This finding suggests that you don’t really need to bother with the reason why, you just need to say because and compliance happens.

I think these results have stunning implications for you. The implication is that we may be able to add huge power to our own messages by simply including the word because in the text. Try using the word because in all your influence, persuasion and negotiating situations and I believe that you will get far more compliance from others.

Why? Just because!