The One Word That Can Make You More Persuasive


Here’s a quick story that reveals how a single word can make you more persuasive.

That word: Because

A Harvard social psychologist Ellen Langer sent researchers to a copy store near campus to study how powerful that word can be. 

Researchers, posing as customers, visited the store multiple times and asked if they could skip the long line. They tested three approaches. 

In the first approach, the requester said, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” 

People in line said “yes” 60% of the time.  

In the second approach, the request began exactly the same…

“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine…”  

…but the requesters tacked on the magic phrase “…because I’m in a rush” 

The compliance rate increased to 94%.


Here’s where things got really wild…

In the third approach, they said, ““Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?”

Because I have to make some copies!?!?! 

Well, duh! It’s a copy machine. Of course you need to make some copies. 

Come on people. Don’t reward that bogus request.

You gotta say, “Back of the line for you!” right!?

Well, no, 93% said, “Yes. Go ahead and skip the line.” 

The conclusion: By merely saying “because…” (no matter how senseless the reason offered), people comply.

Does that mean you should craft meaningless explanations in your sales pitch (“We’re having a sale because we want to offer a lower price”)? 

Of course, not. 

But it does mean you should weave “because” into your requests…

…when you announce a sale…

…when you ask a prospect to buy your products or services…

…when you announce a price hike…

…when you ask your kid to clean their room…

…when you ask a friend for a favor…

…or any other time you ask for something.  

That little word and the explanation that follows can boost compliance like magic. 

Are you already weaving “because” into a pitch? Are you planning to do so now? Reply to the email and let me know. 

Or better yet…

Share your thoughts in the Mastermind Book Club.

This because story comes from Chapter 35 of Robert Cialdini’s “Yes!” That’s the book we’re discussing this month in the club.

I’m sharing all of the above as a post in the Club.

I encourage you to join…

…because… (I couldn’t resist)

…you’ll discover lots of business-building insights and make great connections with like-minded business people who already joined. 

And best of all, you can weigh in even if you haven’t read the book. 

Every month, Ted Prodromou and I choose a book to discuss. Read it if you want, but you don’t have to. 

Ted and I — along with other members — will share takeaways from the book and discuss how we can turn lessons learned into business-building action. 

After I press “send” I’ll be posting this email to the clubhouse so members can weigh in and share their thoughts. 

Once a month, Ted and I will host a live event for all members to get together and discuss the book. 

Go to to join. It’s free. 

Don't go away yet..

p.s. Coaches, authors, and consultants hire me to power-up their creative content and storytelling to captivate prospects, stand-out and book more business.

Whenever you're ready, here are several ways I can help you become a storytelling stand-out so you'll land more clients without pitching and prodding:

1) Get the Story Power Profit Pack -- 52 Strategies, Tips, and Tactics  to Transform Your Content from Ignored to Adored.

2) Watch the free, 7-minute Micro-Training: “The 3 Most Important Storytelling Keys to Captivate Prospects and Inspire Them to Act -- Without Pitching and Prodding.”

3) Become a Story Power VIP: Master how to discover, assemble, and deliver business-building stories. Twice-monthly live masterclasses. Members-only content. One-on-one feedback and consulting sessions. And more… If you'd like to learn more about our VIP program, just reply to this email and put "Story Power VIP" in the subject line. I’ll contact you with more details.

4) Work with me one-on-one: If you’re interested in working directly with me -- to discover, assemble, and deliver powerful, business-building stories -- simply reply to this email and change the subject line to "Private Client." Tell me a little about yourself, your business, and what you'd like to accomplish, and I'll reply to discuss options.

5) Invite me to speak at an event: I can tailor a presentation that meets the specific needs of your organization. Informative. Entertaining. Virtual or live. Potential for continuing education credits when applicable for your group. If interested, reply to this email and change the subject line to “Speaking Engagement.” I’ll circle back to discuss the possibilities.

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Tom Ruwitch

Tom Ruwitch is the founder and CEO of Story Power Marketing. For more than 30 years, he has helped businesses grow by delivering powerful stories using a variety of different media.