The Simple, Powerful Persuasion Technique That is Just Four Words Long

Here's a simple change to every request you make that, psychology suggests, is one of the most effective if you want others to say "yes".

I want you to imagine that you’re trying to ask somebody at work to do something for you.

Maybe you need someone in accounts to pay your expenses a day early, or someone in marketing to change the deadlines of an agreed project you’re working on.

Well, this week I’ve got possibly the simplest and most proven research-backed technique to get other people to say “yes” that you can use straight away

The research comes from a meta-study of over 40 other studies that was conducted in 2013 by psychologists at the University of Illinois. They looked into what they coined the ‘BYAF technique’ (standing for “but you are free) in which you reiterate to people that the decision as to whether to comply with your request is up to them and they are not obliged.

In the meta-study psychologists found that using this technique was likely to increase cooperation by 100%.

So, next time you’re requesting something of somebody else, remember to remind them that what they decide to do is up to them. (By the way this didn’t seem to work on email or phone, only face to face).

Links to the research will be on the website and if you’re interested and want to learn more about meetology®, the behavioural science powering world-class people skills, head over to and sign up to get these Meetology Minutes every week .

I’ll be back in seven days, see you then,


Jonathan Bradshaw
The Meetology® Lab


Carpenter, Christopher J. “A meta-analysis of the effectiveness of the “but you are free” compliance-gaining technique.” Communication Studies 64.1 (2013): 6-17.




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.