How to Get People to Do What You Want

How to Get What You WantIf you’re like most people, you want to know how you can get others to do what you want them to do.  That’s understandable, but it’s also a little short-sighted.

If you’re a truly effective communicator, you ask a slightly different question.  You want to know how you can get others to do what you want them to do — BECAUSE THEY WANT TO DO IT.

I have an entire program that addresses that very question … The Power of Partnership: 7 Keys to Better Relationships and Greater Teamwork.  For starters, however, try a few of these strategies.


1.  Use humor.

People are more cooperative when they’re smiling or laughing.  The State of Florida, for example, got a lot more compliance when they changed their signs from “No Smoking” to “Florida is a clean indoor air state.  But dirty air is available in designated areas.

Along similar lines, Ramona Gaines found it was a lot easier to cooperate when she was smiling.  She was rushing to a meeting after she had finished teaching her class.   As she glided past a stop sign, she immediately saw a police car and its flashing red light.  She pulled to the curb, relieved that the young officer was a former English student of hers.  She thought she was off the hook, but the officer gently said, “Sorry, Mrs. Gaines. That sign was a period, not a comma.”  A little humor goes a long way.


2.  Ask for what you want.

Most people don’t like to cooperate with pushy, demanding, or whining people.  Most people want to be asked in a caring, humble, and straight-forward manner.

It’s like the 16-year-old boy who worked at a Ford dealership until 6:00 PM every school day and put in twelve hour days during the summer.  Part of his job was taking off the hubcaps at night so they wouldn’t be stolen.  One day, carrying an armful of hubcaps, he almost bumped into the new general manager and dropped all the hubcaps.  The boy was fired on the spot.

Desperate for a solution, the boy wrote to Henry Ford II.  He explained what happened, said his family was a loyal Ford family, and when he was old enough he was going to buy a Mustang.  He asked for his job back.  Eventually, the dealer called the boy and said, “I don’t know who you know in Detroit, but if you want your job back, you got it.”  The boy had learned to ask for what he wanted.


3.  Do a favor first.

That same boy, later in college, wanted to work at a Rolls Royce dealership, but the owner said there were no openings.  So the boy started washing cars there anyway.  When the owner noticed the young man and asked what he was doing, the young man simply said he was working there until he was hired.  He was.

That young man’s name was Jay Leno.


4.  Notice the other person’s good work.

I’ve been speaking around the world for 20 years, and I still hear the same complaint I heard back in the early days of my career.  Employees complain they can do a hundred things right and not hear a thing about it.  They do one thing wrong and someone’s right on their back.

When I ask managers about this complaint, I get several responses.  Some say, “Yeah, I know I should be giving out more praise, but I just forget,” or “I’m too busy.” The more cynical ones say, “Look, I pay people to do their jobs. I don’t have to praise them.

No, you don’t have to praise your employees, or your colleagues, for that matter.  But let’s get right to the bottom line.  People will work harder and accomplish more with a paycheck and praise than they will with just a plain old paycheck.

So there’s a payoff when you notice the other person’s good work.  They give you more of their cooperation in return.

To make sure you don’t forget to use this powerful strategy, put five pennies in your left pocket, and each time you give a compliment, move a penny from your left pocket to your right pocket.  When all five pennies are in your right pocket, you’ve accomplished your mission.

You can get others to willingly do what you want if you implement these strategies and all the other ones I outline in my program on The Power of Partnership.  Just remember, a loser wants his way.  A winner makes his way.