How To Get People To Do What You Want

Without being pushy, mean, or obnoxious

Posted Aug 01, 2014

How can you get people to do stuff without being mean, pushy, or nagging? Here are 5 tips on how to encourage/empower people from my book How To Get People To Do Stuff:

1) Show a story of someone achieving the thing you hope/want them to achieve. Stories are not only interesting (the brain processes information best in story form) but research shows that watching a 20 minute video where someone talks about what they did and how it changed them for the better can actually change a person's "self" story. We all tell ourselves stories about who we are and why we do what we do. These self-stories are powerful, unconscious motivators for our behavior. Change the self-story and you change the behavior long-term. For example, have employees who have received a promotion write or make a short video about their journey and their success. That will encourage others to excel.

2) Stimulate the desire for mastery -- People have an innate desire to learn new skills and knowledge. (Think about small children. They don't have to go to school to learn to walk and talk). You can stimulate someone's desire to learn by giving them autonomy -- give them control about how and when they learn the new skill. Make sure the task has the right amount of challenge -- not so much that they feel overwhelmed, but not so easy that it's boring. And give them lots of feedback -- without praise -- about how they are doing. Giving praise with feedback actually reduces the person's desire for mastery as does giving people rewards. "I believe you are ready for a challenge. How about you figure out how to implement the next marketing campaign on your own?" 

3) Encourage them to create SMALL habits that are attached to habits they already have. You've probably heard that habits are hard to make and break but they aren't as long as you follow the science of habits: You have to try to create or change a very small habit. Don't try for "Keep all the data on all the customers updated at all times". Instead go for, "When you finish a call with a new customer log the call into the database."

4) Let people know how many other people are doing what you want them to do. "Did you know that 70 percent of the people in our organization have signed up for the extra training program"?

5) Get them to make a small commitment first. If you get people to make a small commitment then it is more likely that they will make a bigger commitment later. "Why don't you come to the first session of the "Write better reports" class we are giving." When they take one small action that is against their personal self-story it sets up a conflict unconsciously. "Hey, I didn't think I was the type of person that likes to go to classes to learn new skills, but I just went to a class. Am I the kind of person that takes classes at work to improve my skills?" Next time you ask them, "Why don't you sign up for this class at work," they will be more likely to say yes.

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