Have you ever been in a sales situation, thought you had a customer's commitment to do something, and later discovered that they had reneged on what you thought was an agreement between you?
Or have you ever given feedback to an employee, and felt certain that he or she would change behavior only to later discover that nothing had changed?
How do you know when people are committed to doing what you are asking them to do and not just pretending to agree to get you to go away?
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There are both verbal and nonverbal clues that will give you a good indication of whether people will, in fact, do what you have asked them to do. Some of these depend on the way you ask while others depend on the way they answer.
1. Use powerful words when you ask people to do something.
When you make your request ask, "Will you (buy my product, use my service, change your behavior)?" Do not use tentative words like "Could you?" "Would you?" or "Might you?"
A person "could" change, "would" change" or "might" change, but, in fact, "will" he or she change.
Changing is an act of will. You want to be sure they have the "willpower" to do so.
You may be reluctant to be this direct. Certainly, you want to ask "Will you?" with a tone of voice that is assertive and not aggressive. However, if you're not direct when you make your request, don't expect to get a direct response in return.
2. Listen to the words others use when responding to your question, "Will you (do what I'm asking you to do)?"
Just as you don't want to use tentative words when making your request, so too you want to listen to hear if others are using tentative words when responding.
If they say, "I think so" or "I'll try" or "Sounds good" or anything other than "Yes," you don't have their full commitment. These tentative words suggest that they still have concerns about what you are asking them to do.