If You Want A Favor From Someone, Science Says You Shouldn't Say 'Please'


The Internet is full of advice about how to get people to do what you want.

Much of this advice is both bullshit and fucked up. (Take exhibits A, B and C: the “Negging” philosophy for picking up women, otherwise known as “Be an awful monster and maybe someone will be sad, demoralized and hurt enough to kiss you.)

But knowing how to be assertive and “get what you want” non-cruelly – especially in job settings – is obviously a helpful tool many of us struggle with.

My go-to technique for “getting what I want in the workplace” is usually as follows:

Step one: wait. Step two: become too old to live alone and get sent to a nursing home.

The results are inconclusive regarding this strategy. But while I wait, let me inform you about a new bit of research that can help you out.

Supposedly, according to "science,” people respond very favorably when you ask them if they'd be “willing” to do something for you.

As Elizabeth Stokoe – one of the psychologists behind the study – explains,

What was really interesting about the mediation 'willings' is that if you ask someone, 'Are you interested in mediation?' they might say yes or no. But if you ask them if they're willing to mediate, that requires them saying something about the type of person that they are.

You can agree or disagree with this assertion. But to me, it sort of makes intuitive case.

She added, however, that you shouldn't just rely on using "willing" right away because it puts people on guard. Rather, it should be used later in the conversation – after the person has pushed back a bit – in order to shift the power dynamic.

Again, let me remind you, it is extremely uncool to use this strategy – or in fact, any strategy like it – to try to hook up with someone. Don't be a shit.

Just use it to get your raise.