Study: How to Get to ‘Yes’ When Asking for More Business

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Maybe you need to set up a meeting with a client, review a report, or ask a favor. There’s a better way to ask than sending a text or email message.

If you want to ask a favor or make a request of someone else, you’re better off asking in person. People are significantly more likely to say “yes” to requests made in-person than they are to requests made via email or text messages.

A phone call or video are second best, according to a new study in the November issue of the journal “Social Psychological and Personality Science.” Video and audio requests are 86% more effective than email requests. But in-person requests are the best of all—67% more effective than audio and video calls, the study notes. In-person requests were 34 times more effective than email requests.

Researchers found that many people underestimate the power of asking face-to-face and instead default to electronic communications, according to the study from Cornell University associate professor Vanessa Bohns and Ryerson University assistant professor M. Mahdi Roghanizad. But how you ask, and over what medium, can make a difference, they say.

In-person communication is more effective than text or email when requesting assistance, the researchers write. “These findings suggest that people may miss out on receiving needed help by asking for it in suboptimal ways,” the researchers note in the study.