This week I’m going to suggest a word that research suggests can improve the chances of you gaining cooperation from other people.
The word is ‘willing’.
Researchers at Loughborough University in the UK found that when you insert the word ‘willing’ it can change the emphasis of the request and make it far harder for an individual to refuse to help you as it links their decision directly to their character and identity.
For example, if you asked someone for money when collecting for charity and you said ‘Would you like to donate?” people can arguably more easily say “no”. However, if you frame the request in this way: “Are you willing to help needy children?” then the personal characteristics of the person you are asking for money from are brought into play. Are they a nice person and will their behaviours prove this?
So, it’s not necessarily the word itself, but what it does to the framing of the question that has the impact here.
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Sikveland, R. and Stokoe, E. (2016), Dealing with Resistance in Initial Intake and Inquiry Calls to Mediation: The Power of “Willing”. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 33: 235–254. doi:10.1002/crq.21157