A Subtle Psychological Trick You Can Use to Nudge Decisions in Your Favor
Introverts aren’t generally known for their conversation skills. As a rule, we like to stick to ourselves and spend far too much time in our own heads to succeed in a world that was created by and for extroverts. So, if we want to carve out a place for ourselves (either in our personal or professional lives) we have to learn conversation tactics to help us get what we want and need.
One of the biggest ways we can change our lives is buy learning how to get other people to say “yes.”
The Power of Yes!
Thinking of going to your boss and asking for a promotion or a raise? How are you going to get them give you the green light? Planning how to approach a potential romantic partner a t a party? How do you get them to agree to a date? Seeking capital to get your start-up business off the ground? How can you get an investor onboard?
In all these situations you need the listener to say “yes.” One little word—just three letters—yet so powerful!
And while there are a ton of variables that go into achieving a successful outcome in any of these situations—from wearing the right clothes, to having enough experience, to showcasing great financials—there is an easy psychological trick you can use to put the frosting on the cake and put your listener in a more agreeable mood.
Tag Questions Trick the Mind Into Agreeability
Derek Borthwick, author of How to Talk to Anybody: Learn the Secrets to Small Talk, Business, Management, Sales & Social Conversations & How to Make Real Friends, introduced me to a tool called Tag Questions. These questions are specifically created to generate a positive response—to get the listener to say “yes”—and are placed at the end of a statement.
For example: “I’m glad the sun has come out. It’s going to be a beautiful day, isn’t it?”
It may or may not turn out to be a beautiful day but the natural (and expected) response to that question is “yes.”
Although tag questions can be used in any situation from the board room to the bar room, Borthwick mentions tag questions in conjunction with sales pitches. Studies have found that people will be more likely to buy a product or service when asked if they have simply said “yes” several times before being asked.
This phenomenon happens at the subconscious level. We repeatedly agree with a person’s statements and it shifts our mind to be more apt to say “yes” even when we’re unsure if we actually agree!
This tactic is widely used in psychotherapy and hypnosis the generate susceptibility and a “therapeutic alliance.” It’s actually called The Yes Set.
How Does the Yes Set Work?
It sounds too simple to be true: by getting someone to say “yes” to disparate tag questions you’re able to subtly change their attitude and overcome mental obstacles to “buying” what the speaker is selling.
But when you dig into the mental mechanics of it, it’s not so hard to understand why it works. People like to be liked. We also like to be around people like us. We gravitate toward individuals who have the same hobbies, attitudes, and speech patterns as us—even body language plays a tremendously important role in how we feel about people we haven’t even met.
Tag questions allows us to use subtle suggestibility to create:
- Feelings of good will
All of these can effectively change how a listener perceives a speaker on very basic levels. Therefore, if the speaker then proposes we go out to dinner Saturday night or that they deserve a 15% raise because they’ve worked so hard, we’re more likely to say “yes.”
Groundwork is Essential for Tag Questions to Work
While the Yes Set is powerful, it won’t move mountains by itself. If a listener already has existing assumptions or feelings about the speaker, those must be overcome first through positive social interaction, effective communication, and presentation of facts that paint the speaker in a good light.
However, if the subject has no preconceived notions about the speaker or if they already like the listener, the power of the Yes Set can be tremendous. This tool can reap significant financial benefits for folks promoting their products or services to targeted audiences. It can also change the course of a career if your boss already likes you. It can even change the dynamic in a long-standing personal relationship to a more positive note.
Next time you’re in a conversation, sprinkle tag questions throughout your conversation and see first-hand how this psychological tactic really works!