Do You Want A Reason Why? OK, Here's Why...

by Jean-Paul Cortes
(San Jose, Costa Rica)

Do You Want To Know Why?

Do You Want To Know Why?

Ah, Why? A very simple question indeed. A very important question nevertheless.

It seems to me that human beings might even be born with it. Just think back to when you were a child. I'll bet that more than likely, you were always full of whys?

I remember this vividly. And fairly recently, something happened that got me thinking of just how much this simple question matters.

I owe it to my Son, Julian. He's a 12 year old kid. Of course, you might remember when you were 12. That point in your life when you're beginning to leave your childhood behind. And, if you're like me, all you wanted to know was the reason why.

But Dad...

So there we were, just the two of us. And a whole bunch of people we didn't really know. I was running around with a million things to do, frantically trying, quite unsuccessfully, to keep a whole bunch stuff in my head and get through this.

I had asked my son to help me out that day. And he was. In his very own special way. Which as it turns out, taught me a very humbling lesson.

Because at some point, I noticed Julian doing something else, something completely different than what I had asked him to do. Now, keep in mind that my patience was already melting away faster than a Popsicle in an oven, so I was, to say the least, somewhat irked.

I pulled him aside. I must have had my angry eyes on because he looked at me with a deer in the headlights look when I opened my mouth to berate him over what he was doing.

"But Dad, the reason why is because they looked hot and thirsty, so I went to get them something to drink." I looked at him. He smiled. I understood. And I learned.

Because I say so, isn't an answer (at least not always)

As parents, most of us have been guilty of slapping the "because I say so..." last words to our children. I'll admit, sometimes it's all you have left. Sometimes, it's justified. If your children are in danger, there are no ifs, ands or buts, "because I say so" is all the reasons why they should get.

But, as you may realize, most people really need a reason why. A reason why you should do something. A reason why you should not do something. Just a reason. Because we all want to know, why?

Give people a reason

As it appears, giving a reason why may even trip our compliance to someone's request. Even if the request isn't really a valid one.

In his book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” Robert Cialdini, Ph.D. talks about an experiment conducted by Harvard social psychologist, Ellen Langer, that determined people like to have a reason for what they do.
She made people wait in line to use a library copy machine and then had experimenters ask to cut in line.

The first reason they gave was “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?” This question, that gave a reason, was successful 94% of the time. However when the experimenter made a request only: “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” it was only allowed 60% of the time. That's quite a difference.

Hold on. It gets even better

On the surface, it looks like the only difference between the two requests was the additional information of “because I’m in a rush”, but that’s just not so.
Because Dr. Langer then had a third experimenter ask “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?” Notice something different? No reason mentioned or new information presented, just the words “because.“ That did the trick.

This time a whopping 93% of the people said yes simply due to the word ‘BECAUSE’ And it didn’t even matter that there was no reason given. Just the word "because" triggered a magic response.

Six honest men

Let's get to the meat of things. Marketing maven Sean D'Souza of Psychotactics.com, wrote a persuasive article on the power of why. He examined which one question among What, How, When, Where, Who and Why, was the most effective psychological trigger of them all.

He gave the example of needing to go to the Supermarket. The how, when, where, who and what, he says, would make absolutely no difference if you didn’t know ‘WHY’ you were headed there. Everything else would be totally irrelevant. Once you know WHY you’re doing something, everything else is just a matter of logistics.

Why should I choose YOU?

This gives us some very important insights that you can use for your business. We all know the competition we're up against. There are hundreds, if not thousands of people competing for your client's attention.

You don't need to have magic glasses to see this. As soon as you open your eyes, the chances are that soon after you'll be hit with some marketing message. So, I guess it begs to ask: "Which message will get through?"

The following words by Maxwell Sackheim ring as true now as when he said them: "Whenever you make a claim or special offer in your advertising, come up with an honest reason why, and then state it sincerely. You’ll sell many more products this way.”

A strong enough reason

Mr. Sackheim hits it on the nail. Any reason may be a good reason, however an honest reason, stated sincerely is what will sell many more products.

And this is what it comes to my dear friends. This powerful strategy works just as well today. So, if for some mysterious reason you feel the urge to come up with some concocted idea to sell your products, think back to this article. Let people in on the reason why and you'll guarantee yourself a better response.

If you'd like to read Sean D'Souza's article, I've reproduced it with his permission on this website. Here's where you can read it

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