Do you remember the song from the Wizard of OZ?
‘We’re off to see the Wizard
The wonderful Wizard of Oz
We hear he is a whiz of a wiz
If ever a wiz there was
If ever, oh ever a wiz there was
The Wizard of Oz is one because
Because, because, because, because, because…..
Because of the wonderful things he does!’
It’s a catchy little tune isn’t it? And it uses the most powerful word you can use when persuading.
What is the most powerful word you can use when persuading people?
Let me share the research with you. There were these people lined up at the photocopy machine in America. A team of researchers wanted to know, how effective is the word ‘because’ when it comes to persuading people to our way of thinking?
In the first experiment, the researchers asked people to push in the line, and they set some specific rules. The people pushing in had to use polite manners and were given a specific script to say. They were asked to say “Excuse me. Please may I use the xerox machine?”
Now, what percentage of people do you think let them in? In Australia where I live, it would probably be zero! We’d say, “go to the back of the line, we are all waiting!” In fact, 60% of people let them in. Americans must be generous right?
Once the researchers had the baseline for their research, they were able to check for what they really wanted to know which is, how good is the word because when we are trying to persuade someone?
In the second experiment the researchers asked people to say the same thing again, but this second time they were asked to add a GOOD reason for pushing in the line. They had to say, “Excuse me. Please may I use the xerox machine, because I’m in a rush.” And what do you think happened? What percentage of people agreed to let them push in? Incredibly it rose to 94%. A 34% increase once they added a “because” and a good reason. People said, “yes of course you are welcome to stand in front of me, come right in.” Of course, the researchers were not sure if on this occasion the people let them in just because they said,
“because” or because they, “were in a rush”.
So then, in the third and final experiment, the researchers asked people to push into the line once again. This final time they were asked to demonstrate polite manners, only this time they were asked to use a RIDICULOUS reason for pushing in the line. They were specifically asked to say, “Excuse me. Please may I use the xerox machine, because I need to make some copies.” Ridiculous right? I mean of course you’ve got to make copies, that’s why you are waiting in a line at the photocopy machine!
And guess what happened with the ridiculous reason? 93% of people let them in. Seriously! Only a 1% drop.
The researchers determined that people don’t really listen objectively. They hear the word, “because” and they automatically assume that it’s a reliable, robust reason for doing the thing.
Why is this? Well, it’s actually in our DNA to need explanations. People like to have reasons for what they do. We need to know why. And even when the reasons given are not legitimate reasons people tend to go along with whatever is being asked.
People who don’t know ‘why?’ don’t buy. So give them the why, and then watch them buy: your idea, your product, your service.
The takeaway is this, people need a reason to approve your idea, support your assumptions or fund your proposal. In fact, we know that if you say, because it will help you to ….” you’re 34% more likely to persuade than if you just left the because and the
reason out of your sentence.
When we ask someone to do us a favour, we will be more successful if we provide a reason. This single word has transformed every facet of my life from my client relationships, to my personal relationships, to my ability to close deals, and my overall persuasiveness as a passionate educator.
I recommend you start trying this too. Link your idea, your pitch or your argument to the action you want your customer, colleague or prospect to take by using the word because, and they will be more compelled to take action. Be sure to say, “because” with the best reason you can think of in all your communication: your emails, proposals, phone calls, zoom meetings and pitches. It’s going to work because you’re showing why something works or what your customer or prospect will get out of your idea.
Remember when there is no why, people don’t buy, so give them the why and watch them buy!
© Michelle Bowden 2020. Michelle Bowden is an authority on presentation & persuasion in business. Michelle is a CSP (the highest designation for speakers in the world), co-creator of the PRSI (a world-first psychometric indicator that tests your persuasiveness at work), best-selling internationally published author (Wiley), and a regular commentator in print, radio and online media. www.michellebowden.com.au