Thought for the Week – How to Influence with a Single Question?

Last week’s Thought for the Week was “Who is Your Biggest Influencer?” and I told you about mine and what a massive difference she made to my life.

[You can find all previous posts here in my blog]

When it comes to influencing others, how do you do that?

  • Do you persuade?
  • Do you Cajole?
  • Do you believe you have to push people into doing things?
  • Do you influence?

Because there’s a HUGE difference – not only between these ways of communicating, but more importantly in the outcomes you get.

The thing is: a lot of people get the difference and a lot of people don’t, even if they believe they do.

And, of course if you manage people, you have to ask them to do things that are part of their job description. And sometimes things that fall outside their job description.

If someone says “no” to something you have asked them to do that is outside their JD, what then happens in your experience?

If you are a business owner, you may need to ask a supplier to do something for you sooner than their usual delivery time. What is your experience of this?

There may be a number of reasons why they have said no, including current workload.

So, I’m going to ask some questions….

  • How do you feel when you have said “no” to something, then someone is trying to persuade you to do that?
  • If that happens, how do you feel about that person afterwards?

Depending how they went about it, your level of trust in that person may have gone down!

So, if they managed to persuade you, they may have got a quick win in that moment but have most likely lost your trust going forward, right?

Then, what IS the difference when someone influences rather than persuades?

The difference is subtle but the outcome is HUGE.

This is a topic I cover in depth in my programmes, so I’d like to give you just one powerful tip …

If they say “no”, ask them this question:

“I was really hoping you could help me with that. May I ask the reason you can’t this time?

Now, what’s the difference between asking that and asking; “Why can’t you do it?”

Asked this way, they are more likely to decide whether they can help you and that is influence!

You may even think there is no difference and I have just worded it in a different way!

The difference is that firstly, it is genuine. You have owned the request by saying you had hoped they could help you.

Secondly, you showed them respect in the way you asked them about the reason they can’t help.

Which question do you believe they are most likely to reconsider?

Asking “Why” sounds judgemental and puts people on the defensive.

Yes, it is an open question, but, for instance; if someone asked you; “Why did you do it like that?” How would you feel?

“A single question can be more influential than a thousand statements.”

-Bo Bennett-

[Author, Social Scientist, Business Owner, Screenwriter]

As always, I will leave you  with that thought!

I would also like to invite you to book a Complimentary Consultation with me, where you can explore how you influence through your communication.

With best wishes.


Korinne Le Page
Thrive Coaching & Training
P.S. Ask me about the next Communication Code Group Programme



Published by korinnethrive

Hello, I’m Korinne … I work with committed and determined professionals who want to master their communuac skills. Often business people believe they are doing OK and yet they know they are not getting the results they want and deserve. I’m passionate about helping people to achieve thir vision and get results. I have been working with Business Owners and Leaders for more that 25 years, helping them to realise their vision of what they truly want, overcome barriers to effective communication, so they can be the best version of themselves and thrive in their lives.

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