People don’t like to be told what to do, that much we know. But there is a way to persuade people into doing something that’s good for them. In fact, you’re probably doing it already; it’s called altercasting.
What is Altercasting?
In altercasting, you persuade people by “casting” them into an ideal role. This then “alters” their response to your follow up request, making them more likely to agree to it. As an example, say you’d like a colleague to help you with a report. You can then “cast” that person into the role of an expert and tell them how much you admire their Excel skills, before asking for help. You might be surprised how eager they’ll be to help you, just to show off their abilities.
I know what you’re thinking though: isn’t this a little bit underhanded, manipulating people to do your bidding? Well, not really. Altercasting can be used for good and evil. If you use this in a negative way, be prepared for the consequences. For our part, we suggest you use altercasting only for positive actions that will uplift others.
How to Persuade People via Altercasting
Persuade people to be their best.
The best way to use altercasting is by nudging people into doing something they already want to do. For example, your boss probably wants to be known as a good mentor. If you want them to be more active in guiding you, you can tell them how they’ve been a great advisor to you. Then, ask if you can meet regularly to get mentoring more often.
Appreciate and connect with the person.
You can also tap into your relationship with the person to motivate them to action. Maybe you want a colleague to help you in a new project. You can reminisce about your years together and how they’ve been a reliable coworker through and through. Then open a discussion about how much they can contribute to the success of your project.
For big requests, use the word “willing”.
According to one altercasting study, when people were asked to do a deed with the word “willing” in the request – aka, “are you willing to move to a new office?” – they agreed to the request 100% of the time. This only works though if the other party has already showed resistance to the request. It’s also best to reserve this for big requests like in the previous example.
Never take advantage of anyone.
Again, it’s important to use altercasting positively so you don’t damage your relationships with others. Only use this technique in a way that benefits both parties and only for encouraging people to act in a positive way.
Altercasting is a subtle yet powerful technique to persuade people to cooperate with your requests. Use it wisely.
Here are more tips for inspiring people to take action.