• Advice

How to get people to do what you want (without nagging them)

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.

Isn’t it annoying when you ask someone to do something and they don’t respond? How many times have you sent an email without getting a response?

You ask customers to pre-pay an invoice, or give the final approval for something, and.... no response.

It's a waste of your time and energy to wonder and then resend it.

I’ll share with you a simple technique that works for me, and for other freelancers and entrepreneurs.

Where it goes wrong

First, a common mistake people make is starting with “me me me” or, “take take take”. They just go with the ask, which benefits only them.

The best way to get attention is by paying attention.

People are innately self-interested. In our information-saturated lives, it’s easy for us to ignore messages and emails that don’t matter to us.

But when something benefits us, we’ll pay attention.

Try this:

Give them a sandwich

That's right: Deliver the ask or request in a benefit sandwich.

Benefit = bread

Ask = sandwich filling

1. Lead with a benefit, why it’s good for them.

2. Then deliver the “ask”: What you want from them, what you want them to do.

3. Close with a benefit.

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“So we can help you give a good impression to your potential clients, can you please take two minutes to give the approval, then we can move on to preparing the material and make sure we showcase your expertise.”

How you frame benefits is based on conversations you've had with the people you're persuading and should pertain to what they want and need.

Another example

One time we babysat our nephews, three and five; they bounced around the house, fighting, screaming, and tossing pillows. My in-laws were exhausted from the noise.

So I asked the boys:

"Who wants to be a Kung fu Master?"

"Me me me me me"

"Bruce Lee, the greatest Kung fu Master of all time said, to be a master it starts with first emptying your mind. So, to be a Kung fu Master, you must sit quietly for as long as you can, then you begin your journey to becoming a Kung fu Master".

They sat quietly for the next 45 minutes or so, and continued having a race to keep quiet.

Instead of telling them to be quiet and stop making noise, I caught their attention by showing them what they wanted.

Context matters

All you’re doing is giving context for the ask. The context shows how it helps them as opposed to emphasizing what you want.

The benefit sandwich isn’t 100% fool-proof - no technique is, because it entirely depends on people, circumstances and events. But it’s certainly better than the “take take take” approach.

So remember, next time you want someone to do something, give them a benefit sandwich: begin with why it's good for them, then deliver the ask, and then repeat why it's good for them.

Good luck!

Anis Qizilbash, London-based founder of Mindful Sales Training, author of upcoming book: Grow Your Sales, Do What You Love: mindful selling for entrepreneurs and freelancers.