Beyond the Build


Because you asked…

I was recently reacquainted with an old trick for becoming more persuasive. Instead of just making a request, add the word “because” to your sentence. Giving a little context gets a much more positive response, with 55% more compliance than if you omitted it, according to a classic Harvard study conducted in a traditional office setting.

The Copy Machine Study,” as it’s become known, proves that people are much more willing to accommodate requests if they are given a reason. The shocking part is that there isn’t a substantial difference between giving a real reason and a made up reason. People just want some justification.

Beyond the “because” secret, I have learned a lot from watching our longtime CFO. When Del needs action or help from others, he typically qualifies his request with words like, “If it is not too much trouble “ or, “Hope I am not asking too much.” By choosing to show respect in the “ask,” I am convinced that recipients are more likely to respond to the call to action. It all this goes back to something I was told years ago: You only get one chance to get it right the first time. Similarly, you only have one time to frame your request the right way. 

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.