My son Jose is 11 years old. So when he looked at me and said, “I think it would be a good idea for me to clean the birdcage and throw out the garbage now,” the heavens opened up and a chorus of angels sang. If you have children, you know that hearing words like that can seem like a miracle.
Of course, I simply could have ordered him to clean the cage and take out the trash, but that might’ve led to an argument. Instead, when discussing chores with Jose, I use a powerful persuasion technique called “Triggering Deductive Reasoning.” The idea is to get him to logically decide that it’s in his best interest to do his chores right away. And that’s why he’s (usually) eager to take care of them.
Ordering people around – even if you’re in a position to do so – is one of the least effective ways to get them to do what you want them to do. It’s always better to use proven persuasion techniques to change their thinking – and even their actions – without sounding like a dictator or a jerk.
You can use the Triggering Deductive Reasoning technique to get your own kids to do their chores. But you can also use it to persuade clients to buy your products… to get an employee to take on an unpleasant project… or to get your spouse to agree to take you out to dinner. I’m going to show you how.
First, let me explain why there’s more to this technique than appealing to the other person’s sense of logic. For instance, I could have said to Jose, “Why don’t you do your chores now, so you don’t forget?” In asking that question, I would hope Jose would recognize the wisdom of my logic and agree. But that approach would’ve likely failed miserably. Why? Because he didn’t come to the conclusion on his own.
If you can subtly lead the other person to make the decision you’re hoping for, their conviction that it is the right thing to do will be very strong. And they won’t even realize what you did.
Here’s how I did it with Jose…
I knew he was really looking forward to playing at his friend’s house, and he didn’t want anything to interfere with his plans. So I said, “What time are you going to your friend’s house?”
“I’m supposed to be there at 2:00,” he replied, without looking up from his video game.
I responded, “Mom’s going to drive you over there, right? What time are you leaving?”
“1:30,” he said, glancing at his watch. “It’s 12:30 now.”
“Well then,” I said, “I guess you can keep playing your game for a while.”
“I’m supposed to clean the birdcage and take out the garbage before I go,” he said, looking up from his game.
“I’m sure you won’t forget,” I said.
I watched his eyes as he thought about it. It was obvious that he recognized the distinct possibility that he could, indeed, get wrapped up in his game… forget about the chores… and have his mother tell him he couldn’t go because he didn’t get them done. He deduced for himself that the wise choice was to do the chores right then, and not take the chance of missing his afternoon fun.
The Triggering Deductive Reasoning technique works just as well with adults.
A few years ago, a partner and I were getting ready to produce an instructional video. He was going to fund the venture, and I was going to do the legwork. Neither one of us owned any video equipment at the time, so I investigated what it would cost to hire a professional videographer. Because we intended to market the video by showing clips in television ads, it had to be of the highest quality.
After getting many quotes, I came to the conclusion that for 25 percent more than we’d budgeted, we could purchase everything we needed to shoot and edit the video ourselves. A big advantage of this plan was that we could then produce further videos inexpensively. However, I was reluctant to approach my partner and tell him that he should put in more money than we originally discussed.
So I decided to use the Triggering Deductive Reasoning technique. I showed him the quotes I’d gotten from all the videographers, and told him, “I’m not sure any of these guys know more about shooting and editing a video than we do. But as much as I’d like to buy the equipment, we can save at least $5,000 by paying one of them to produce this one for us.”
Being a smart guy, he instantly realized that it would be much better for us to own the equipment. “Remember,” he said, “we already have plans to do three more videos together.” And so he decided, without me asking, to make the additional investment.
To use the Triggering Deductive Reasoning technique, take the following steps:
1. Identify your goal.
You must know precisely what you want to achieve. In my example with Jose, my goal was to get him to make the decision to stop playing his game and get his chores done immediately. In my video-production example, my goal was to get my partner to make the decision to invest an additional $5,000 so we could buy our own equipment.
2. Make a statement that leads the other person to the conclusion you want him to come to.
The leading statement I made to Jose was, “I’m sure you won’t forget [to do your chores before it’s time to go].” The leading statement I made to my partner was, “”I’m not sure any of these guys know more about shooting and editing a video than we do.”
Let’s say you want to persuade your boss to increase your budget for a particular project. In that case, you might say something like, “I can definitely get this project done within the budget – although, with the shortcuts we’ll need to take, there may be some quality issues.”
That statement would lead your boss to the realization that not giving you a bigger budget might be a bad idea.
3. Reinforce the logical conclusion the other person comes to “on his own.”
When the person you’re using the Triggering Deductive Reasoning technique on comes to the conclusion you were hoping for, agree with him that he made a wise decision. You might even admit that you were thinking the same thing… and he convinced you it was the right thing to do.[Ed. Note: Being able to persuade someone to do or think what you want is an enviable skill. It’s one you can develop quite easily – especially with Paul’s proven persuasion techniques. Learn more here.]