Remember in Wolf of Wall Street, when Leonardo DiCaprio is super convincing, and he’s getting everybody–old people, young people, Margot Robbie–to say yes to him, no matter what he’s asking them? He’s selling them on penny stocks and his ballpoint pen and a night with him and everything is coming up DiCaprio because nobody apparently has the ability to say no to him.
Well it turns out you can be that convincing too, and it’s incredibly easy. You just have to use one simple word. According to an article on the website of New York Magazine, a UK psychologist named Elizabeth Stokoe, who specializes in conversational analysis, discovered something pretty damn remarkable in some recent research: Whenever someone requested something and it was turned down, a follow-up request using the word “willing” often got through to the person and got them to say yes.
When you frame the request with “willing,” it actually changes the question. Instead of being about an immediate action, it’s now about a person’s boundaries.
In other words, if you want someone to play a game of ping-pong with you, the best way to ask them is, “Are you willing to play ping-pong with me?” And if you want a different person (say, a beautiful co-worker) to grab a drink with you, the best way to ask them is, “Are you willing to get a drink with me?”
Why does this work much more often when you say “willing“? Stokoe says that when you frame the request in these terms, it actually changes the question. Instead of being about an immediate action, it’s now about a person’s boundaries, and what they find doable in a broader sense. (We would add that, when you use the word “willing,” it also makes the request sound more like a fun challenge. And who doesn’t like a fun challenge?)
Just remember: This whole “willing” effectiveness works best after you’ve already been turned down. So you might first try to ask out that beautiful co-worker your usual way (“Want to grab a drink tonight?”), and if she politely declines, then go ahead and play your ace in the hole (“Are you willing to grab a drink with me tonight?”).
And if that doesn’t work, pick a different girl–ideally once outside your office–and try again.
To read more about this “willing” breakthrough, go here.