Want People to Do What You Ask? Use THIS Brilliant Word…

I may be a motivational speaker now, but I spent a good part of my early career as a social worker, and, as such, I learned a LOT about human behavior.  Here’s something you may not know.

A well-known principle of human behavior says that when we ask someone to help us out or do us a favor, we will more likely gain compliance if we provide a reason.  Harvard social psychologist Ellen Langer illustrated this principle by asking people standing in line at a library copy machine if she could jump ahead in line to make copies.

Her first request was phrased like this:  “Excuse me, I have five pages.  May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush.”  94% of the people she asked let her in line ahead of them.

In her second experiment she simply said, “Excuse me, I have five pages, May I use the Xerox machine?”  Only 60% of the people she asked let her in line in front of them.

So you might think that the answer is simply to give a valid reason (“because I’m in a rush”) and you’re good to go.  Not quite.  A third type of request showed that her success hinged upon the word, “because” – regardless of what followed.  In that experiment she asked, “Excuse me, I have five pages.  May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?”

93% agreed to let her in line ahead of them!  No real reason.  No new information.  Nothing, except the word “because” – and she was successful 93% of the time.

So the next time you need something from someone – use the word “because” in your request.

Gee.  Imagine the possibilities.  “I’d like a $30,000 raise because green is a good color on me.”

From your ever-curious motivational speaker, Linda Larsen


Motivational Speaker Linda Larsen, CSP has been described by meeting planners and audiences as "hysterically funny," and "riveting." Known for her ability to connect on an authentic and emotional level with audiences, her spontaneous sense of humor, and her engaging and powerful stories, Linda is passionate about sharing ideas to help people live their finest, best, and most productive lives. Her riveting and true story of being kidnapped and held hostage at gunpoint by an escaped convict, and the strategies she used to escape, will give people the tools THEY need to rise above any of life's toughest challenges, to communicate more effectively with THEIR difficult person, and to find creative solutions to THEIR problems. To book motivational speaker, Linda Larsen: 941-927-4700

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  1. Linda, I’d like you to keep posting your thoughts frequently because you inspire, entertain, encourage, motivate, prompt, delight, engage and amuse me! Thank you!

  2. Thanks so much, Paul!  I reeeeeally appreciate your kind feedback!

  3. (Sang to Wizard of Oz theme song) “Because because because because because…..because of the wonderful things she posts! Yes, Linda I LOVE this and teach is to all my sales teams because it works!

  4. Linda – you are a rock star because you can really articulate great ideas in a concise matter.  And, Colette, I love the Wizard of Oz song too.  We should all have theme songs to our posts!!

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