You recognize it. You want an agreement on your proposal, a response to your email or a een on your idea as soon as possible. You can continue with that. How do you ensure that you get this agreement just a little faster? From your customer, someone from your team or your manager? We give you 3 tips + a bonus.
1. Offer a passive option
This tip is also known as the silence procedure. You mainly apply it to people whom you know they trust you. An explicit ‘agreement’ is probably not necessary.
Suppose it is now Tuesday morning. Your customer, Hans, e-mails you with the request to send an e-mail to all customers early on Thursday morning. You keep working hard. And it works: everything is ready on Tuesday 4.30 pm.
Which email do you send to your customer?
Option 1 – The active option
Ha Hans. It worked. The mail is ready. I just sent you a test. The e-mail will be sent on Thursday at 9 AM. Do you let us know if you agree?
Option 2 – The passive option
Ha Hans. It worked. The mail is ready. I just sent you a test. The e-mail will be sent on Thursday at 09:00. If you have any changes, let us know. Then I will carry them through tomorrow.
Suppose you no longer receive a response. With which option do you send your mail with 100% certainty on Thursday morning at 09:00?
You did not agree with option 1. An agreement was not required for option 2. Option 1 therefore requires action from the recipient. With option 2, action by the recipient is passive and therefore not necessary and you simply send the e-mail out with confidence.
With a passive choice, a reaction is not necessary and you can continue as usual.
2. Create a threshold
This second one works well if you have to deliver negative news. And if you suspect that there is less hurry with the assignment.
Suppose you have to deliver 8 blogs by the end of the month. It will be tight, you already know that. You want to see if there is room for flexibility. You call your client. What do you say?
Option 1 – The neutral variant
Ha Angela. Our deadline for the 8 blogs is at the end of March. We would like to move 2 blogs to the first week of April. Do you agree?
Option 2 – The threshold variant
Ha Angela. Our deadline for the 8 blogs is at the end of March. We would like to move 2 blogs to the first week of April. Is that a problem for you?
With option 1 you give the recipient 2 equal options. Your question is neutral and the recipient is free to say yes or no. In option 2 you create a threshold. You ask if it is “a problem” for the recipient.
Things are not often really “a problem”. It might be “awkward”. But “a problem”? No, not that. By using version 2, you actually force the other person to say that it is “a problem”.
The great thing about this option 2 is: it’s likeable too. After all, what if it is a problem for the customer? Then the conversation will probably go like this:
You:… Is that a problem for you?
Client: Ooh, that is not convenient. We really need the lyrics.
You: OK. Then we will just make sure that you have the lyrics at the end of March. No problem. (You take the burdened feeling away from the other party by this reaction)
Client: (Relieved) Oh, great! Thank you. If we had more air, it would have been really fine.
Do you see what happened? You ask for the deadline to be postponed. That is not possible. But the conversation nevertheless ends very positively. So the threshold does not reflect negatively on you.
3. Offer a choice without a no option
You can use this tip well if you want to avoid a do / don’t discussion. You do this by radiating that the choice has already been made and that it is only a matter of getting the details around.
Imagine: You have been instructed to send all customers a little heart-under-the-belt gift in covid time. You have searched extensively on the internet and found the ideal gift: a functional, beautiful and comfortable mouth mask. How do you ask Fatou, your manager, if she agrees?
Option 1 – With no option
Ha Fatou. For the heart-under-the-belt gift I thought of a mouth mask with our logo on it. What do you think of that?
Option 2 – Without no option
Ha Fatou. For the heart-under-the-belt gift I thought of a mouth mask with our logo on it. Which variant do you prefer: the one with the logo on the left, or with the logo in the middle?
In option 1, you can discuss the face mask as a gift. Fatou has every opportunity to say that she doesn’t think a mouth mask is a good idea, so you have to continue looking. In option 2 you make her an accomplice: she thinks about taking a step further in the process.
It actually works just like with children who want to get your vegetables. You don’t ask them whether they want vegetables (option 1) but which vegetables they want (option 2).
You don’t ask children whether they want vegetables, but which vegetables they want.
Bonus Tip: Turn three into two choices
This bonus tip is actually a variation of the pick with no no option. You’ve probably already heard of the three-in-two choice. But have you ever used it yourself?
“Medium of large?”
Sounds familiar right? McDonald’s? Starbucks? Will a bell ring? You feel a bit of a loser when you say: “Well, go small anyway”. It’s a silly trick. But it works great.
Are there three options? Then show that one of those options is a clearly worse choice. Thus the other chooses from the two remaining choices. And that … is exactly what you wanted. However?
Are there three options? Then show that one of those options is a clearly worse choice.
No guarantee of success for an agreement
Of course, the tips do not give an absolute guarantee of success. Listening to the other, fulfilling your obligations and delivering good results are of course many times more important. But still, with our tips you can do small, practical nudges that increase the chance that you can continue with your proposal (faster).
Of course we are also curious about which tips we still miss. Which nudges have you ever used?
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