You Want More Influence? Tell Us Why …

It’s All in the Why

When I was a kid if I asked my dad for something small, like a quarter to play the jukebox, his answer would be, “Give me good three reason why.” Not every reason was so good at first, but I learned to think up reasons before I gave the request. That lesson stuck and stayed all through my life.

So I wasn’t that surprised when I read this study years ago.

Dr. Ellen Langer, a Harvard social psychologist, took a document to a line of people at the copier and said, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?”
Some 60% said “yes.”

But when she added a “reason,” by saying in similar circumstances, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?” The number jumped to huge 93%.

I searched the web for the original study. Can’t find it. But memory says that she went a third time with a reason involving a deadline and that number rose close to 100%.

Tell me why …

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If a simple why makes a difference, imagine the effect of a reason that’s meaningful.

Your turn …

Write something you want us to do and why we should do it in the comment box. It’s a chance for you to influence what we do.

–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz!! See what you can do!


  1. says

    Morning, Liz. You’re so right: answering the question why is so important, if you want to rise above the noise. When time is short and competition is high, it’s even more important.

    By the way, I read your blog BECAUSE: you make me think outside the box, I meet great people on your blog, you know a lot about building relationships and are willing to share.

    I’d love for you to get my weekly photo newsletter so that your Thursdays will be the highlight of your week. Seven photos and a story will start Thursdays with a smile.

  2. says

    Great post, Liz. Whether you’re making a simple request or (for entrepreneurs) telling others why you do what you do, it’s the “why” that inspires and resonates with others.

  3. says

    Hi Liz

    Pet-hate: too many bloggers want to increase their readership numbers = increase their influence in the blogosphere or niche they are in – but can’t be bothered to reply in their own comment box to the converstation their readers are instigating.

    Strange world 😉

    So that’s what I want to happen in the comment box (and find here of course!)

    Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

  4. says

    I want each of us to make a habit of looking for other reasons and interactions involving whatever “problem” we’re currently having so that we don’t waste time and energy stuck on one path when a look at the bigger picture would help us pick a better solution. This is also part of the purpose and rationale of my blog.

  5. says

    Why we should be more forgiving of n00bs in the social media space:

    1) If they are earnest, we shouldn’t dismiss them for their matter how idiotic it might sound or seem on the surface.

    2) All connections. good ones at least, lead to something more than what you previously had…

    3) We were all there at one time.

  6. says

    It all goes back to the WIIFM concept – What’s in it for me to do what you want?

    My favorite WIIFM reason for blogging is to share my decade+ of online business building; my favorite WIIFM reason for answering questions is we’ve all been there one time or another.

    That being said, I also belive that goes around, comes around…show you’re helpful to earnest individuals, and the word will spread you’re a person that will help out. And that, of course, can only be described as a Very Good Thing indeed.

    Data points, Barbara

  7. Kathryn says

    I want more people to realize that their comments are important, add value and mean a lot to the person who write the post, I want people to comment even if they disagree. I want people to comment even if they just pop by to say “Hi, liked/didn’t like what you wrote”. I want people to add value and to let others know they gave value.

  8. says

    Thanks for a great blog post!

    Answering the question ‘why’ feeds readers for a day. Answering the question “how” teaches them to fish.

    I blog because I believe we do not *find* meaning in life, we *make* meaning in life, and writing helps us in the making.

  9. says

    Bam – hit over the head! Isn’t it amazing how a subtle shift of words makes a big difference in not only what we say but the reaction to what we’ve said.

    So in spirit of your post Liz..

    I would like everyone to attend the world wide Twestival celebration because for only $10 you can help a great cause – providing clean safe water to 1.1 billion people.

  10. says

    Hi Karin!
    We’re all getting too involved in too many places. I’ve been coming back here. Now it’s the work that’s calling me away.

    I hear you and I agree. 😉
    Even when I look in the mirror.

  11. says

    Why do I subscribe to Liz’s blog?

    Because I love reading her insightful thinking pattern.

    Why should you visit and subscribe to my blog?

    Because you might see a part of the USA you haven’t seen before or even if you have, you can relive a memory. Plus, you might see something in a different way than you saw it before.

  12. says

    This is a great question, loving this one.

    A good friend, Melissa Pierce of the Life In Perpetual Beta movie based the movie on one question “Is A Planned Life Worth Living?” Wierdly, I’ve thought about this in depth and this is what I’ve come up with.

    For me I’d have to say no. If I’d planned my life 5 years ago, I wouldn’t want to live the life I had planned back then. Not that I was so ‘off’, but that I’ve grown as a person, technology has changed, options have changed, along with circumstances. I believe that being somewhat agile in your life is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. You give yourself time to grow, learn, and experience life.

    Some people are afraid of change, but I personally embrace it. I’d probably get a little bored with myself if I never grew… and so

    Why Follow me on Twitter –>


    1. I don’t bore me, so hopefully I won’t bore you!

    2. Although hard to believe, I’ve hand picked almost everyone I follow; they’re the next best thing to sliced bread.

    3. I try to keep intelligent conversation to about 75 percent and goofing off to about 25 percent. I think that’s a good split.

    If I convinced you, follow @eeUS on twitter. (*snifl* if I get no new followers I’ll be heartbroken, *snifl*)

  13. Lynngg says

    I am not looking for more influence necessary, but for areas where my influence will fulfill the need/s of the individual or group. So much of what we see is fufu (acronym for BS), and there are many out there that need contact, answers, encouragement, solace. I may be able to offer this, I may not, I would like to try.

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