Harvard Psychologist Ellen Langer (www.ellenlanger.com) conducted an experiment that involved cutting in line to use a copy machine. Three questions were used with interesting results:
Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?
60% said OK.
Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?
94% said OK.
Now those results by themselves are to be expected but what if I didn’t bother giving a reason at all? Does it matter what we say after “because”? Are we, generally speaking, programmed to assume there is a reason after the word “because”? My Mom must have known this intuitively.
“Why can’t I have the candy?”
“Because I said so.”
I would just like to say for the benefit of five year olds everywhere “THAT’S NOT A REASON!” And no I don’t have childhood issues. Because I said so, that’s why.
So what was the last question?
Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?
93% said OK.
Now personally I don’t believe a study like this is enough so I have experimented with the word “because” on my own and feel that my findings corraborate the study above – “because” is a powerul word.
Good: I would like to sit down with you to discuss the possibility of us becoming power partners?
Better: I would like to sit down with you to discuss the possibility of us becoming power partners because (you and I share a similar dedication to customer service, you and I share similar customers and might be able to help each other, you and I have a similar fascination with worms, etc.)
Throw a because in there and your chances of success increase regardless of the goal of your networking question. Do a little experimenting of your own – try it with because and without. I think you will be interested with the results.