How to get people to do what you want

By Susan Clegg, AVN Team

Wouldn’t it be great if you could get people to do what you want? Your clients, your team, maybe even your kids.

You ask your clients to send you their information and it comes in straight away.

Your team members do exactly what you want them to do, when and how you want it done.

Your kids go to bed at the right time without stalling or arguing.

Sadly, most of the time, life just isn’t like that.

But there are strategies that make it much more likely to happen. And they aren’t rocket science.

Here are 6 tips to help you get people to do what you want.

Be specific

When we ask someone to do something, we often assume that they know exactly what we mean. For example, you might send an email saying, ‘I need all your records for your tax return asap.’ But words like ‘asap’ or ‘all’ can mean different things to different people. Be specific so it’s absolutely clear what you’re asking for. So with the tax return example, state the deadline you need it by – e.g. Friday 12th by 2pm – and clarify what you want them to send by including a checklist.

Get agreement

Agreement and expectation aren’t the same thing. Maybe you expect your team to work late during busy periods. It’s a reasonable expectation, but have you agreed it with them? If not and you just assume they’ll stay behind, you may well find they resent working late or even refuse to do it. Agreeing in advance how late they need to stay, if they can take time off in lieu or if they’ll be paid extra, means that all involved understand what’s expected of them.

Say thank you

People are more likely to do what you want when they know they’ll be recognised and appreciated for it. It’s obvious really! So when your team work late, thank them sincerely (or even give them a gift) and tell them how much you value their contribution. Make them feel great about themselves by specifying exactly what you value about them – ‘Your work on the Smith & Jones account was outstanding.’

Explain the ‘why’

Help them understand why you’re making the request, in a way that’s meaningful to them. To go back to our tax return example, when you ask for their information, spell out that if they send it in late, you may not have time to fully look into their tax affairs. So their tax bill could be much higher than it needs to be and they could even struggle to pay it. When they know the background to your request, they’re more likely to comply.

Don’t rely on words alone

When we talk to someone in person, the words we use account for only 7% of the information we take in – a staggering 93% is made up of body language and tonality. It’s hard to replicate that in an email (tonality is notoriously difficult to convey and body language, well, that’s impossible). So if you aren’t meeting in person or on a video call, record a quick video to send them to make sure your message gets over effectively (Loom is great for this).

Hide the instruction

And what about getting your kids to go to bed on time (or to do anything else)? A useful trick is to say what you want them to do but then give them a choice about it: ‘It’s bedtime now – which pyjamas do you want to wear, the blue ones or the red ones?’ Disguising the instruction seems to work! (Tip: this is just as effective on grown-ups).

Of course, these are just a few of the many effective strategies that can help. It’s a question of finding the ones that work for you.

Want more ideas? Watch this video to learn how to train your clients to make your life easier:




Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash