We all make requests of one another, and hope we're persuasive enough to succeed.

Usually the requests we make have little impact or importance in the grand scheme of things. But sometimes, every once in awhile, the stakes are high enough that getting a yes is critical.

So what do you do in that situation?

Feel Free to Say No

As it turns out, there is a five word phrase that will help tip the odds in your favor. Not only tip the odds - they'll double your chances of receiving a yes.

What are they?

"Feel free to say no."

You can use them at the beginning of the request, as in: "Feel free to say no, but will you..."

Or you can use them at the end of the request, as in: "Will you... but feel free to say no."

It Works Best When...

This technique, was originally discovered by Nicolas Guéguen and Alexandre Pascual in 2000 (Evocation of Freedom and Compliance). Recently Chris Carpenter of Western Illinois University confirmed the finding, as reported in ResearchGate (Read this - but of course, you are free to refuse).

Where these five words appear in the request doesn't matter, when you use them does. For best effect, use them in situations when the request can be be accepted or rejected immediately.

It will work in other situations, just not as well.

Curious Why it Works so Well?

Researchers speculate it has to do with the feeling of freedom it grants the receiver. When an individual feels like they are free to choose - and not coerced - they are more likely to comply.

They further speculate when an individual is free to choose, they don't feel external pressure. When external pressure is gone, an individual will draw on internal motivation.

(Of course I would be remiss if I didn't point out that this technique might also invoke guilt. Any student of persuasion knows that guilt has been successfully used as a persuasion technique for centuries.)

Whatever the reason, this phrase works. Five simple words. Remember them next time you need to increase your odds of receiving a yes.


Have a sales, marketing, or productivity topic you'd like to see covered here? Tweet me @chaddperry.