Arouse an Eager Want

Question: Would you rather do something of your own free will or be forced? I’m going to guess all of you said you’d prefer to exercise your free will. That’s not to say we all can’t stand a good kick in the seat of the pants every now and then. I’m thinking of my old high school football coach as I type that! We can always be pushed to do a little more than we think we’re capable of but that’s not what I’m talking about here. What’s important is this difference; if I’m forced to do something I’ll probably stop doing it the moment the force, or threat, is removed. However, if I do something of my own free will I’m likely to continue in that behavior, especially if I enjoy some benefits.

Dale Carnegie also understood that people want to exercise their right to choose and that’s why he encouraged readers to arouse in the other person an eager want. It’s usually fun and enjoyable to do things when we want to do them but quite often people don’t want to do what’s asked of them. So how do you make someone want to do the thing you’re asking of them? A few thoughts come to mind.

In sales we jokingly say everyone’s favorite radio station is WIIFM. That stands for “What’s In It For Me” and it’s where everyone’s attention is tuned in almost continually. Let’s face it, first and foremost people think about how they will be impacted by things. I once heard a psychologist build on the WIIFM concept by adding everyone’s favorite song to the mix, a derivation of Willy Nelson’s classic, “You were Always on My Mind.” Paula Butterfield, addressing a leadership group at Franklin University several years ago said people’s favorite song was, “I was Always on My Mind.” Every person you meet is thinking, “How will this affect me?” That means you have to think about how to put things in terms that will appeal to them.

Understanding the other person and what they want, hope for, desire – what motivates them – is key. While this seems simple, how many times have you seen people try to motivate others in ways that motivate themselves? It’s not about YOU, it’s about them. If making more money is your thing that’s not necessarily someone else’s carrot. The same could be said for title or position. Not everyone wants to be a VP, company owner, head coach or some other highly visible position. For some people that motivation is easily seen and tapped into but when it comes to others you have to pay close attention. What do people talk about? What do you observe in their office or home? For some people the motivation is a sense of belonging, knowing they’re making a difference, family, hobbies, etc.

Once you know what that motivation is, your next step is to align your request with it somehow. This is the concept of consistency; the principle that says people are likely to act in ways that are consistent with what they’ve said or done in the past. If another person sees how what you’re asking ties into what’s most important to them then they’re likely to tackle it with more enthusiasm and more likely follow through. That’s the principle of consistency at work. For example, many kids don’t enjoy the work that comes along with college but they might have career aspirations. Tying in how coursework or grades might help them realize their dreams will make them a little more eager to do well.

Sometimes making something seem special, something not many people can have, or do, is what does the trick. This taps into scarcity, the principle of influence that tells us people are motivated to action when they fear losing an opportunity. This isn’t new to the human condition. Mark Twain wrote of Tom Sawyer in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, “He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it – namely, in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain.” This came about because Tom didn’t want to paint a fence. He convinced the other kids to do it when he made it seem special. All of a sudden they all wanted to do it.

So we’ve now covered three fundamental techniques for handling people:

  1. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
  2. Give honest, sincere appreciation.
  3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.

In the weeks to come we’ll explore Dale Carnegie’s six ideas to get people to like you. In the meantime, I’ve love to hear your thoughts about arousing an eager want in another person so feel free to leave a comment below.

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

16 replies
  1. Brian F Martin
    Brian F Martin says:

    Brian – This post is truly a great reminder of many sales and influence techniques that we all know, but need reminding of from time to time. As a business owner with a great sales force, I will gladly share this article with them. WIIFM, Consistency, and Scarcity are logical, key componentts to influencing others. Thanks again.

  2. Brian F Martin
    Brian F Martin says:

    Thx Brian for sharing that link with me! There definitly is something about people with the same or similar names. But thats not why i reached out. Your idea to write a blog all about influence is really interesting. I touch on the topic quite frequenty on my marketing podcast blog. I invite you to check it out.

  3. Brian
    Brian says:

    The name thing was more for fun because it's interesting.
    I looked at your site and I'm really impressed! I love the videos, really well done. I just signed up to follow you on Twitter. I'd like to connect with you sometime and talk.
    PS My middle initial is "F" also. I'm just saying…
    Have a good one!
    Brian F. Ahearn

  4. u2s5thmember
    u2s5thmember says:

    This is a great article! It begins telling me how to understand what motivates people. Thank you! I'm still learning this tool. For example, you'd think saving money & budgets would be a fun thing for my partner as she wants to travel, scuba dive etc. But in reality starting a budget makes her sob and we don't get anywhere. Similarly sticking to one goes out the window the minute we didn't plan well enough & have no food made for dinner. It's all a matter of perception, so how do I arouse in her an eager want to save every penny??? One of many examples where my driving forces are not at all hers so I don't see how to proceed. Can someone provide more ideas for me to think about? Thanks again!

    • Brian Ahearn
      Brian Ahearn says:

      Saving now for something in the future is hard for most people because it feels like loss. Here are some suggestions that might help:

      1. Get her to commit to the process and decision. If it's not viewed as your process and your decision only she'll be more engaged.
      2. Stay focused on why you're saving (home, college, fabulous vacation, etc.)
      3. Early on focus on progress made ("We're already 25% of the way there!") then later focus on how little remains ("We're only 10% away from our goal!").
      4. Set aside money from your paychecks automatically. Out of sight, out of mind is easier that having to write a check or transfer money to an account.

      I hope this helps.

  5. tsharzzi
    tsharzzi says:

    enjoying all your articles on Dale Carnegie and his book How to Win Friends and Influence People.

    You give great suggestions on how to implement his teachings into real life. I appreciate the time and effort you took into writing this because it makes it so easy for me to implement.
    Thank you!


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