There are many situations in life where we want people to cooperate and play ball but unfortunately it seems that it is human nature to be difficult. People just don’t like doing as they’re told and so quite often, telling someone to do something can actually be the surest way to ensure that they do the opposite. Which is just swell…
Fortunately, an understanding of psychology can help you to get people to cooperate with you while ensuring that they don’t even realize that they’re being somewhat manipulated. This is an invaluable skill for anyone in a leadership position, as well as for parents and generally it can be highly useful for a wide variety of scenarios. Here we will look at some of the best psychological tricks you can use to get people to play ball…
Give Them Something
When you give someone something this makes them feel obligated and they’ll then have a strong urge in order to do the same for you. As long as they don’t feel like you’re trying to manipulate them, this will then make them much more amenable when you later ask them to do something.
If you’ve ever gone shopping in a market abroad then you may have experienced this technique being used on you. As soon as you enter a stall, the owner will often make you a cup of tea and maybe even give you a little trinket for you and your family to take home. This is their ‘loss leader’ because they now know that you’re struggling with an intense sense of obligation to give them something back – or at the very least to buy something from their store. This obligation is felt even more strongly if you’re British like me…
What’s particularly effective about this trick is that when someone feels obligated to reciprocate they will almost always reciprocate with a larger gesture than what you did for them. Give someone a dollar and somewhere down the line they’re pretty likely to give you two dollars.
To use this in a business setting, you can simply make sure that you are amenable to requests yourself and that you occasionally do favors for those who operate beneath you. This way you can create a situation where they feel in your debt and that will help you to influence them more easily when you need something in return.
Ask for a Favor
Conversely, the precise opposite strategy may also be highly effective. Here you ask for something from them or you ask them to do you a favor. For instance you might ask someone to lend you a book or you might ask them to come around and help you erect some flat pack furniture. This then surprisingly makes them actually much more agreeable and likely to go along with your subsequent requests even though in this scenario it is you who owes them.
The reasoning behind this comes down to several factors. For starters, when you ask someone for a favor you are demonstrating your trust in them and showing them that you value them. This immediately makes them more likely to go along with you. Furthermore, when you do this you are actually getting them to invest in your relationship and once they’ve put time and effort into making you happy, they’re not going to want to them waste that by not helping you out the next time.
Finally though, the most powerful effect seems to be cognitive dissonance. This explains what happens when our own actions do not seem to fall in line with our feelings or thoughts. If someone doesn’t like you and yet they go along with a favor for you, they will ask themselves why they are doing that and the only conclusion they will be likely to come to is that they must really like you. This might not sound like it would really work, but in fact it can result in a lasting and highly powerful cognitive shift that makes people much more likely to do as you ask.
Make Them Feel Involved
It’s also important to a) tell people why you’re asking them to do things and b) give people a sense of ownership over their work. If you want someone to work 10x harder on a project then putting their name on said project will make a huge difference. Likewise, if you can explain to them why they are doing what you ask then they will be much more likely to work independently towards that goal. Again they will feel much more valued and trusted but at the same time they will know that they’re not just being asked to do things for ‘the sake of it’.