I’m Chanpory, and this is my site on how to live and work better as a designer.

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Instead of asking or demanding for what you want, simply state your goal and ask, “How can we make this happen?”

Here are some examples:

Instead of:

“Can you give me a raise?”

Ask this:

“I’d like a raise. How can we make this happen?”

Instead of:

“Can I be your boyfriend”

Ask this:

“I want to be your boyfriend. How can we make this happen?

Instead of:

“Can you sell it to me for less?”

Ask this:

“I’d like the price to be lower. How can we make this happen?”

Why the rephrasing? It lowers the chances of a flat-out rejection. At the same time, you increase the possibility of collaboration on reaching your stated goal; if the other person can’t give you want you want now, it’s easier to negotiate how you can get it later.

Asking “How can we make it happen?” shows guts and diplomacy without seeming demanding.

Try it the next time you want something from someone else.

24 Comments

  • Ceres

    gravatarOct 29, 2008
    9:48 am

    Brilliant! I always try to be proactive in my approach to life, and this is a very good reminder of how to be and stay proactive. Thanks for sharing!

  • Sarah

    gravatarOct 29, 2008
    11:11 am

    I have a coworker who’s been saying that for years, and it’s not only demanding, it’s obnoxious. The upshot is that everyone’s automatic response is “you can’t.”

  • Kev

    gravatarOct 29, 2008
    11:33 am

    | It’s obnoxious

    Haha, repeating it for every single question, I’d whole-heartedly agree. Partly because as you said, it is demanding… I think it just comes down to a particular situation, similar to using “We” rather than “I” when talking to clients to give the impression that they’re involved ;-)

  • RUDE

    gravatarOct 30, 2008
    12:08 am

    This article reminded me a lot the Tricks of the Trade blog, I used to love every single post in that site, could this be a good replacement? let’s se…

    ;)

  • Sean

    gravatarOct 30, 2008
    7:46 am

    I’ll have to add that to my list of execu-speak. Nice suggestion! Love this blog.

  • StrangeRover

    gravatarOct 31, 2008
    10:25 am

    “Make this happen, we can.” – Yoda

  • StrangeRover

    gravatarOct 31, 2008
    10:28 am

    Upon further contemplation, I realize that this Jedi mind trick is really the start of a slippery slope to the Dark Side. If you are pure of heart, it can help get around knee-jerk resistance to good ideas. If you use it all the time, you’re just a jerk.

  • johnlazy

    gravatarNov 1, 2008
    10:12 pm

    wow! I want to have a link on your blog, How can we make this happen?

  • Corey Freeman

    gravatarNov 4, 2008
    6:34 am

    Nice tips! Communication is definitely important and I never thought about trying to phrase things that way. I’ll have to use that more often.

  • Dan

    gravatarNov 4, 2008
    7:50 am

    Great article. You actually can have whatever you want if you project enough authority.

    And that’s what the second variants are projecting.

  • Falkor

    gravatarNov 6, 2008
    8:55 am

    Gr8 piece.

    How can I make this happen ?

  • Perk

    gravatarNov 8, 2008
    2:51 am

    I hope this post was a joke. Whenever I hear this tired phrase it is usually from some poser that just ordered the kit “How to be a Real Estate Millionaire” from the infomercial on late night TV.

    Using this phrase can do you much more harm than good.

  • XC

    gravatarNov 14, 2008
    10:18 pm

    wow. thanks. now THAT was all I needed. Let’s see how it goes on Monday. :)

  • XC

    gravatarNov 14, 2008
    10:25 pm

    I think (particularly in my situation) it depends on how much confidence you exude to begin with, and if you know their weak points. This will do fine for me, wish I thought of it. As it is now, they listen and ask “me” my opinions on major company matters. I see this doing more good than harm. What’s my alternative? Do nothing at all. Yeah, I’m bored of that already. :) You CAN outwit, outweigh, out-speak a weaker “opponent” any day of the week if you are confident and have the knowledge. (thanks Yoda!) LOL

    Take care.

  • Alex

    gravatarNov 17, 2008
    2:49 am

    “I want to be your boyfriend. How can we make this happen?”

    Sleazy.

  • Sherman Boyd

    gravatarNov 21, 2008
    3:43 pm

    Moar tricks: when shaking, offer your hand palm facing down. This establishes your dominance by forcing your ‘opponent’ into a submissive palm up position giving you a mental advantage in the tough negotiations to follow.

  • Michael Sliwinski

    gravatarNov 26, 2008
    6:50 pm

    Chanpory, we’ve made it happen and the first initial issue of the Productive Magazine has come to life and your article is in it!

    Please check it out:

    http://ProductiveMagazine.com

    and introduce the magazine to your readers (you should be proud – your article’s there!)

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Shalu Wasu

    gravatarDec 12, 2008
    4:21 am

    Very nice! The first approach saps away one’s confidence and the second one makes the other person a partner! shalu

  • Brent

    gravatarDec 24, 2008
    1:49 pm

    I’m going out tonight and approach attractive men by saying, “I’d like to be your boyfriend. How can we make this happen?” I think it might work.

  • Nathalie Lussier

    gravatarJan 24, 2009
    10:07 pm

    While I think some people might abuse these ideas, they are very useful when used in the right way.

    I know that when someone asks for a link, or some other request (like flat out asking for money), I always feel gross afterward. But if they were to ask in a “how can I make this happen” kind of way… it might not be so bad. At least it means they are willing to work for it.

  • Anelly

    gravatarFeb 3, 2009
    3:00 am

    I agree that part of our actions and decisions depends on the way the other person is asking, or is presenting the situation.

  • Howard Fore

    gravatarFeb 6, 2009
    10:59 am

    Check out something called QBQ or Question Behind the Question. Presented in two very short very powerful books by John Miller. It’s similar, focusing you on asking questions that are targeted at solving problems rather than placing blame.

  • Tari Nz

    gravatarMar 20, 2009
    5:12 pm

    I find this kind of communication (in the professional environment) relies on extremely manipulative language. (Playing off someone’s discomfort whether personal, cultural, what have you, of saying “No”.)

    It screams, “I’m entitled! I’m gonna get my way!”

    It assumes that something is going to happen in the way YOU want it to without any room for DIALOGUE. It also seems egocentric, immature, pushy, and self-absorbed. Not to mention that it is often culturally inappropriate.

    If I were interested in a raise, I would phrase it this way:

    “I’d sure like a raise if it’s possible, and I’d be open to discussing how to get there.”

    Now, if I were a person with limited social skills and a great need to come onto someone in a hipster bar, well, yeah. I’d try it.

  • Sarah Malinowski

    gravatarApr 3, 2009
    2:23 pm

    It works. Really. Thanks for the info. :)