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A lawyer or a law student, we all require skills to get others to say yes. In this article, Aditya Shrivastava, Manager Content Marketing talks about how to develop 3 Skills To Increase Your Chances Of Getting To A Yes. 

Let’s say you are a law student. How would you feel if you could get your faculty to accept your ideas? Or if you are an employee, you managed to convince your employer to say yes to a new project proposal. What if an HR at a biglaw firm accepted your internship application? It is possible.

Today, I will try to discuss a little bit of psychology with you. Ever heard of the term compliance? It’s a type of social influence where an individual does what someone else wants them to do, following his or her request or suggestion.

If you have read my earlier article, What Can Lawyers Learn From The Wolves? you will realize that I have a strange fascination towards animals. I noticed the early traits of compliance in man’s most loyal friend, the dog, for the first time. A dog is very peculiar. If you ever throw anything at it, it will fetch it for you. Most of the times, dogs are not required to be trained at it. They just have a tendency to follow. Cats are no different. They will eat from their plate only. Not just them, my grandmother in my early childhood days used to feed a cow everyday. She had a peculiar way of calling them. They would come running to her.

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Such is the complex nature of what psychologists call a ‘fixed action pattern.’ It is a subset of compliance. It is mostly a precise, predictive and an instinctive response out of a specific trigger. This trigger simply automates an action in the animal. If you baby talk with a dog, it will automatically trigger him to come and act playful with you.

Are fixed-action patterns unique on to animals? Or do humans also have such tendency? Can we use a trigger to get a desirable response? Can we get them to say yes? Let’s try to decode it.

I was reading an article by Dean Rieck on Copyblogger, one of the most celebrated blogs in the world. I am quoting exactly what he has written in his blog to demonstrate how such behaviour is prevalent in human beings. There is no better way to explain it.

“In Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert B. Cialdini, a respected social scientist and specialist in the area of compliance psychology, says that “… automatic, stereotyped behavior is prevalent in much of human action …”

He cites an experiment by Harvard social psychologist Ellen Langer, where you can see this concept in action. Langer approached people waiting in line to use a copy machine and asked, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” About 60% said “yes.”

Under similar circumstances, she did the same thing, but instead asked, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?” In this case, an overwhelming 93% said “yes.””

So what does the above example demonstrate?

It is undeniable that people like to have a reason for the things they do. A reason gives them a direction to make well-informed decisions and give justifications of what action they are willing to take. In the above mentioned experiment, although “because” does not really give a well-informed reasoning, however, as the general mindset is that because is followed by a reason, it acts as a trigger for them to say yes.

Once the trigger is set, the brain responds by passing a motion as a matter of following up. This is generally a yes. You don’t have to learn whose trigger is what. For an instance, every time I had tried to question my company law professor in class he would generally diss the idea. Who was I? A student learning the law with little knowledge and no authority. Once I took up an online course on business laws and started explaining my doubts to him, he slowly started paying attention to me. I had figured his trigger point.

Ensure that you design a strong trigger point. Be the grandmother who could make cows run to her. Here are 3 powerful triggers that can get you some good results:

1. Make Them Reciprocate!

Human beings have this crazy urge to do something in return for something may have helped them. Ever offered a seat to someone? Did they say thank you? Ever called someone to your home for a lavish dinner? Did they invite you to their home just before leaving your place? Richard Leaky, a paleontologist, once said, “This urge to do something in return is so strong that it is the very essence of being a human.”

Now try to use this technique with your client. Give them something for free. It could be a free consultation, a court diary, an almanac. It could be anything. If you are a student, try to go to your faculty and offer them a book, or a volunteer a presentation.

Here’s a trick you can try with the HRs: Tell them that you are willing to do an assignment to prove your credibility. This action of yours may trigger their brain to think about your willingness to work for the organization. You might observe a drastic change in their behaviour if you put in honest effort. I must warn you though, while this may work in your favour, there are equal risks involved. An HR might possibly think that you aren’t confident about your own resume. It ultimately boils down to the way you put this offer across. Choose your words wisely!

  1. Commitment And Consistency

All of us have a tendency to remain consistent. Our attitudes don’t change as frequently. Our actions and words are same as they were. Thus, when we are made to commit to a certain thing, there is an undying urge to remain constant at it. You can check it for yourself. You might be committed to certain brands, restaurants or a certain place in a restaurant that you always prefer.

This tendency of individuals to stay committed is what you need to build on. This is one way to go about it.

For example, try to figure out if an HR of a biglaw firm has gone through your application. As the HRs would want to appear sincere, they would often say yes. Build up on that. When could you expect a response on the application? If they say they aren’t sure then ask them when could you follow up. Follow up on time. Eventually you would get them to make a decision or take a stand. This is you getting them to make a psychological commitment.

3. Gain Knowledge And Specialize!

We are living in an age of specialization. Being lawyers, we are prone to nothing but having an authority for everything we say or do. We need proof. It does not matter that we could perhaps use our own brain and do a bit of research to come to a conclusion. But the minute we see an expert, we tend to seek answers. No wonder, all the fashion, business, money, property gurus have taken the markets and news channels by storm.

Can you imagine what if people looked up to you? Is that possible?

Have you ever noticed the aura around the topper of your class? Or the Senior advocate? Why is that? It is because they demonstrate expertise. They have solid information of what they are doing. Laws, acts, citations, cases are at the tip of their fingers. This is where they ace it.

You need to do that do. You can start by sitting in library every day. Start reading about the laws you want to specialize in. Build your knowledge and gain their trust. If you can’t do that, take up courses which can help you grow and learn. Do you want to be a successful corporate lawyer? You can take up this course to get an overall view of the same. If you sit in an interview and answer all questions asked, why would anyone say no to you? Your responses would trigger a yes.

Everyone adores rarity!

It’s a common observation that the fear of losing out is far more powerful than the hope of gaining something. It is a basic human instinct. You might not try as hard at work to get an incentive as much you will to not miss out on a days income. This is a tendency that is common in everyone. They don’t want to miss out on a chance to lose something desirable. The minute you trigger that fear – you are out to get a positive response.

What if you create an impression that missing out on you or your knowledge is an actual loss? If you prove your knowledge, rarity can be self proven.

These are tough tasks, but certainly possible. If you have read my article, 5 Ways In Which You Can Influence you will realize that it is not actually a tough task to mould the air your way. Getting people to agree, if learnt, makes life easy. If you are a lawyer, it is even better!

You can try these techniques and write back to me at [email protected] and tell me if they work. I will be looking forward to your responses.

Good luck!



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