The Magic Word that can make People more Cooperative

This week we explore research that suggests a specific word, when used to change the emphasis of a request, can make people more likely to cooperate with you.

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.

Thanks for visiting the website and, if you haven’t done so already, don’t forget to sign-up on the home page to receive our weekly Meetology® Minute direct to your inbox, as well the latest information on our training courses and I’ll be back in 7 days with some more Meetology® – the fascinating psychology powering exceptional people skills.

Have a good 7 days,


Jonathan Bradshaw
The Meetology® Lab


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




About the Author:

Jonathan Bradshaw presents and trains internationally on the fascinating psychology powering exceptional interpersonal communication. He is Founder of the Meetology® Lab and leads the company’s team of behavioral psychologists in collating and sharing cutting-edge research on exceptional people skills. As an experienced and engaging keynote speaker Jon has presented at conferences and business events in over 30 countries and is an award-winning columnist and blogger. Learn more about him speaking at your next event via or connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.