Flicking through Robert Cialdini’s latest offering – Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven ways to be Persuasive and came across the section on the hypothetical questions. I have long recommended it as a way to soften a request and avoid an outright “no”. Cialdini and his colleagues Noah Goldstein and Steve Martin, say that there is an additional benefit to the hypothetical, – it encourages consistency, so people are more likely to be consistent with their hypothetical views.
So rather than ask “will you support this change?”, a hypothetical question asks “would you be willing to consider supporting this change?” and to cement the consistency, you can further ask “what do you think will be most beneficial for you about the change?”
So, would you be willing to try this in the next week? We’d love for you to try it and tell us what happens.