Leadership Tactic #83: Feel Free to Say No

double deckerFeel free to read this blog entry or not. Either way. It’s completely up to you. Feel free to say no if you don’t want to.

Still reading? I thought so. It’s because you just got beh-psyched (behavioral psychologied)!

Here’s what happened, according to a recent study:

A recent review of the 42 psychology studies carried out on this technique has shown that it [giving people two options and explicitly telling them they’re “free to choose”] is surprisingly effective given how simple it is (Carpenter, 2013). All in all, over 22,000 people have been tested by researchers. Across all the studies it was found to double the chances that someone would say ‘yes’ to the request.

What’s the lesson here? The next time you ask for something, tell the person that they’re free to choose. Here are some examples:

  • You want your cat to get off the keyboard so you can finish writing a blog entry. Say, “Hey Biddy, would you consider moving to the side desk? You’re free to choose.”
  • If your other cat then pounces on Biddy, you might say, “Hey Walter, I appreciate your playfulness, but Biddy clearly doesn’t like that. Feel free to say no, but could you let go of his face?”
  • When both cats end up snuggling on your face while you’re trying to read in bed, say, “Hey guys, cuddles are awesome, and I think it would be great if you could cuddle to either side of me at this particular time. The choice is up to you.”

Yeah, most of my interactions are with cats.

How will you use this tactic this weekend? Most creative answer wins a Biddy (the award that Biddy gives out to comments he likes).