Ask a “Because” Question

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Excerpted from “Chapter Two “Just Ask the Right Questions to Get What You Want” with the permission of the author – Professor Ian Cooper 

Before we get to this technique I’d like to ask you a question:

Can you make sure you set aside at least 10 minutes without interruptions to read this section because 10 minutes is a particularly effective time to spend on it?

Have a look back at the question I’ve just asked before we go on. Read it again and again. Yes, actually the question is nonsense! Did you pick up on the fact that actually it doesn’t really mean anything? Why is 10 minutes particularly effective? What if you read for 9 minutes? Does that mean your reading time doesn’t count?

Look back at the question yet again. The key word in the question is ‘because’. To understand this technique you need to know, that the simple and mere use of this word ‘because’ will often trigger an unconscious reaction in someone that there is a reason why they are being asked to do something and most of us have an automatic reflex to say ‘yes’ or to ‘behave’ in a specific way if there is a reason.

Believe it or not even if the reason given is a poor one or even nonsense, use of the word ‘because’ will still trigger the positive ‘yes’ reflex and with great frequency you’ll get the response that you want. In fact, the truth is that sometimes the people you are asking, won’t even hear the actual reason itself. They’ll hear ‘because’ and their unconscious immediately tells them … ‘hey there’s a reason … I’ll say yes’.

Don’t believe me? Think I’ve really lost it?

Try it … have some fun.

Ask something of someone but include the word ‘because’ in the question followed by a reason and you’ll dramatically increase the ‘yes’ responses.

Think back to my question at the opening of this section. I’ll bet many of you missed the fact that the question didn’t really mean anything and actually felt you needed to devote 10 minutes to this section. If you did, then the word ‘because’ was the trigger for that reaction.

Let me give you a simple example of the effectiveness of this technique:

car-park-is-fullArriving at a very busy car park recently there was a big sign up saying ‘FULL’ and the ‘yellow luminous coated’ car park attendant was turning people away with an authoritative wave. My frustrated passengers immediately commented that “now we’ll have to find somewhere else and we’ll be late”.

“No”, I said … “he’ll let us in”. Let’s try the magic word ‘because’.

So I ignored the madly waving arm and drove up to him. I opened my window and said very nicely:

“I know it says FULL but is there any way you can find us a space ‘because’ it’s a problem parking somewhere else?”

I emphasized the word ‘because’.

Without saying a word he just lifted up the barrier and let us in!

Now I know what you’re thinking…that’s unbelievable…what kind of of black magic is this? Astonishing as it may seem, however, whilst it doesn’t work all the time, a question containing the word “because” does produce positive result with a high degree of frequency.  Try it and let me know about your successes.

iancooper-head-shotProfessor Ian Cooper has been described as a ‘serial achiever’, London based, he is an international author of 15 books with in 55 countries and 13 languages, including the successful and influential ‘Financial Times Guide To Business Development’, recently shortlisted for the best management / business book of the year award. In addition to advising hundreds of businesses and organizations of all sizes for over 30 years, Ian is also a successful entrepreneur who has created and run a number of successful businesses. With approximately 1000 professional speaking engagements Ian has inspired thousands of businesses and individuals with his light and engaging style to improve their own performance, get better

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