Often times when selling something to somebody, or persuading somebody to do something, you’d like to just come out and say, “Do this!”
However, most of us know that if we tried that, people would say, “Uh, no.”
Then we’d be done, as there wouldn’t be anything we could do.
The reason is that nobody likes being told what to do. No matter who you are, or what your status is in life, we all like to feel in control of our thoughts and decisions.
That’s why our language contains certain phrases that respect this, especially from the service industry.
Consider the question of where you’d like to sit in a restaurant:
“Would you like a table or a booth?”
Now, most people don’t even think about this, but take a look at the structure. It’s in the “second conditional” which are conditional statements based on the idea that they aren’t likely to happen.
For example, if you expect that it may rain, you use the “first conditional,” which uses the present tense:
If it rains, I’ll get wet.
But something that isn’t like to happen, we use the “second conditional,” which makes use of the past tense:
If I saw I UFO, I would take a picture.
So why do service people use the second conditional?
They’re basically truncating the full sentence:
“If you were to choose to eat in our restaurant, would you like a table or a booth?”
Because they know that invading somebody’s head and presuming to know what they are going to do is very off putting, and bad for business.
So you can see that telling somebody to do something is even worse.
Luckily, there’s an easy and sneaky way around this.
Say you want somebody to eat a peanut butter sandwich. Except you don’t really have a good reason, and if you tell them directly, they’ll laugh at you.
Here’s what you do:
First, describe how you yourself ate a peanut butter sandwich recently. Describe how you were on the fence, and then made the decision. Further, describe how much you enjoyed it.
Then start talking about how you make decisions, and how you argue with yourself, using the saga of the peanut butter sandwich as your example.
“You know sometimes, I have to convince myself to do something. Like when I decided to eat a peanut butter sandwich. I just got to the point where I said, you know what? Screw it. You need to eat a peanut butter sandwich!”
Of course, when you say that last part, look at them,smile and imagine that you are some super powerful king giving an order to one of your subjects.