Note: This is the first of an occasional series on language, tools and techniques that can help you become more persuasive — a vital skill for making sure more investors are receptive to the advice and guidance they need.
Of the many ways you can become more persuasive, perhaps the simplest, easiest-to-implement way is what is often called the “But You Are Free” method. A meta study of 42 separate psychology studies involving 22,000 people found that this one method can double your chances of getting to “yes.”1
Here’s what you do. When you make a proposal or recommendations, simply tell the other person that they have a choice. They don’t have to go along with your suggestions. They have alternatives. They can choose to do otherwise.
It doesn’t matter what words you use, as long as they convey choice. Something along the lines of “But obviously do not feel obliged” or “but you are free to make a different decision.”
Paradoxically, by highlighting someone’s freedom to choose, you are actually increasing the odds significantly that he or she will go along with your recommendations.
So when you are recommending a portfolio or a financial plan or any major course of action, always leave the client a psychological out.
“Here’s how I think we should proceed, but of course you are completely free to decide otherwise.”
“I think this plan makes sense, based on your long-term goals, but of course you have other options.”
It is easy to be dogmatic. We know the right course of action. We know what is in the client’s best interests. But dogmatism and certainty can leave the client feeling trapped, pressured and thus resistant to change.
Sometimes before we can get to “Yes,” we need to first feel we can say “No.”
I hope you will consider implementing this simple technique to potentially double your likelihood of getting agreement from your clients. But of course, you are free to do otherwise.
1A Meta-Analysis of the Effectiveness of the “But You Are Free” Compliance-Gaining Technique, Communication Studies, Volume 64, Issue 1, 2013