To Get Your Way, Be Direct

If people don’t listen to you, it’s not that they don’t respect you—it could be how you’re phrasing your request, suggests a new study published in Psychological Science.

What's the Latest Development?


People are less likely to object to change if it is proposed in a direct way, says new research from the University of Waterloo. If changes, however, are presented as possible or optional, individuals are more likely to express an unwillingness to go along. In an experiment, "college students who were told that speed limit laws were about to take effect accepted and agreed with the new regulations. But when the laws were said to be possibly going into effect, more students expressed outrage."

What's the Big Idea?

If a new direction seems final, people tend to accept it, says Ph.D. candidate Kristin Laurin. If there is a possibility that the change will not happen, however, people long for the freedom that would be restricted and look for ways to get around the rule. The research suggests some simple ways to make your wants heard more clearly: "Be clear, firm, and direct. If you tell a rule in a definite and relevant manner, people are going to more likely embrace it and they won’t look for ways to cheat the rule, Laurin explains."

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