Asking someone for help can feel like a burdensome request. By asking for a helper, you let the other person know that you respect their expertise and get their buy-in..
This is just one example of “turning choice into identity,” says Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. It’s a “very simple” trick with a big impact, he added. For example, asking for a helper instead of asking for help can make people up to 30% more likely to take action.
People often feel too busy to do the things they “should” be doing, whether it’s going to the gym or voting every November, unless they have the opportunity to showcase the positive parts of their identity. It happens often.
“By framing an action as an opportunity to assert a desired identity, people are more likely to do so,” Berger told CNBC Make It. “If voting gives me an opportunity to show myself and others that I’m a voter, I’m more likely to vote.”
This strategy can motivate people to perform positive behaviors and avoid negative ones, Berger says. Coaches, teachers, and parents often use this tactic to motivate groups.
“Cheating is bad, but being a cheater is worse. Losing is bad, and being a loser is worse,” Berger said.
Persuasiveness often requires “subtle changes in language,” says Berger. He points out that the individual words you use are often more important than the actual nature of your message, claim, or request.
“We think that individual words don’t really matter, and that’s a mistake,” Berger says. “You may have a great idea, but great ideas don’t always get people to listen.”
If you’re at work and want someone to write a pitch for you to send to a client, you can ask, “Do you have a writer in your office?” If you want to learn a new skill, find out if someone considers themselves a teacher.
You can also turn your strategy inward and try to change your own thinking. Running means running sometimes. When you say you’re a runner, you sound more assertive. If you don’t jog regularly yet, you might be able to develop a new habit.
“I’m a runner. I’m an honor roll student. We tell little kids, ‘Don’t just read, you’re a reader,'” Berger says. “You do these things because it’s your identity.”
Berger’s book Magic Words, published last year, explores other simple verbal tricks for convincing friends, coworkers, and bosses.
One such simple solution is that people are more likely to follow your recommendations and ideas when you speak and write in the present tense.
Last year, Berger co-authored an analysis of more than 200,000 book and music reviews. “The more sentences that use the present tense in a review, the more helpful people find it,” he recently said on the podcast “Knowledge at Wharton.”
According to Berger, the present tense is more persuasive for two reasons: It generalizes the experience and makes you sound more confident.
“If you want to say it’s not just France, was It’s fun, but it’s teeth Fun; not just this book had Great plot, but have Great conspiracy. “When you make generalizations that go beyond the past, it suggests that you have more confidence or conviction in what you are saying. They are more likely to follow and be persuaded,” Berger said.
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