PERSUASION by Bob Burg  

"If you can't do it, I'll definitely understand."

All of us face the following situation at one time or
another. We need a customer (dis)service rep, (un)civil
servant, or similar-type person to help us to do something
they don't have to help us to do. It's easier for them to do
as little as possible, or even refuse us altogether. So,
what do we do? How do we handle the situation so that we get
what we want, while, of course, allowing them to feel good
about themselves and helping them learn how to be more
helpful to others in the future?

We begin by letting the person have their say. While they
tell us why "it can't be done" we simply listen with a
polite countenance, without interrupting. If we interrupt,
we make them angry, and strengthen their resolve to be
un-accommodating. Next, we agree with them. "What?", you may
ask.  "What good will that do?" It disarms them. We're not
disagreeing with them so there is, in fact, no argument. At
least not from our end. And, let's fact it - nobody argues
with themselves! (What are they going to say, "No, you're
wrong. . . . I'm . . . wrong!" -- I don't think so).
Instead, try, "You're absolutely correct. I totally
understand what you're saying. Rules are rules and you've
got to follow them."

Now, help them to move into the solution by suggesting a way
they can do what you need them to do while still feeling as
though they are in control. What you say, of course, will
depend upon your unique circumstances. It typically isn't
very difficult since doing what's needed usually isn't that

Thus far you've been polite, patient, and courteously
persistent (credit Zig Ziglar with the term "courteously
persistent"). The person knows you plan to get what you
want, but you've been so pleasant to deal with, not only can
they not be angry with you, but they'd actually "like" to
help you.  Of course, they can't "lose face" in front of
you, so you need to help them along. Now is when you say the
"Eight Key Words", or what I call, "The Phrase that
Persuades." Here it is:

"If you can't do it, I'll definitely understand."

What you've done is given that person an "out"- a
"backdoor." You haven't painted them into a corner from
which he or she cannot escape but, instead, made them feel
very comfortable, not pressured. You've also "gently
challenged" them to use their power for good, being part of
the solution instead of the problem. They now want to do for
you, that which they wouldn't do for most others.

If appropriate, after the "Eight Key Words" you can say, "If
you could, I'd certainly appreciate it." Then, while they're
checking their computer, you can add what I call the "coup
de grace", which is "Hey, don't get yourself in any trouble
. . . it isn't 'that' important." Wow! -- talk about moving
a person over to your side of the issue. What you've really
done is to reposition the conflict from "you against them"
to "you AND them". . . against the system. Utilize this
method consistently, and in practically any situation in
which you're dealing with an unhelpful person. You'll both
come out winners. And, you'll truly master the art of