The power of ‘because’…

Ever wish you had the upper edge, that last morsel of influence that allowed you get something you had otherwise thought impossible? Look no further.

Enter the word: ‘because’.

I recently learned about a classic Harvard study that tested how providing a reason ‘why’ led to obtaining your desired end state; I decided to test it out. It worked like a charm- with my kids, at work and with a total stranger over the phone getting a refund on a non-refundable transaction. It actually became almost a fun game to see how many times I could use it successfully. My results were pretty consistent with the Harvard study:

The study involved a common office scenario – the line buildup and negotiation of ‘who first’ in the line at the Xerox machine. The objective was to get to the front of the line, bypassing those already waiting to use the machine.

A test subject was told to try to cut to the front of the line – and tried different excuses to accomplish the goal:

Test #1: ‘Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the photocopier?’ His request was granted 60% of the time.

Test #2:  ‘Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the photocopier, because I am in a rush.’ The test subjects’ success increased to 94%.

Test #3: ‘Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the photocopier because I need some copies.’ His success rate was 93%.

The study concluded that use of the word  ‘because’ influenced the behaviors of those we interact with, even if the reason provided is blatantly obvious (‘because I need some copies’)…


Simply put – if you give people a reason – almost any reason – to comply with your request, they will do so. 

Try it – let me know how it works for you!

In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying my kids’ clean room, employees taking on additional projects at work, and my non-refundable refund. 

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