What would make it possible?

Advertising is a fascinating field. Its usual purpose is to persuade us to do something we might not do otherwise. Often, the goal is to sell, but there can be other goals, too. Advertisers may try to convince us to take an action we wouldn’t otherwise take, or even to believe something that we might not otherwise believe.

Reality therapy tells us that we have internal control; that is, we have choice in what we do. So, while external influences such as advertising might be persuasive, they don’t “make” us do anything.

That said, when those external influences happen to align themselves with reality therapy principles, they can be persuasive, indeed!

For example, in reality therapy, we spend some time helping folks become clear about exactly what they want. After all, if you don’t know what you want, how will you ever get it?

A recent real estate ad featured this technique: If you find a property that you are interested in, but you perceive that the price is too high, you suggest the price you would be prepared to pay. The company notifies you if the price drops to your suggested level.

Clever! Why? Because when you enter the price that you would be prepared to pay, you are answering that fundamental reality therapy question: “What do you want?”

From the perspective of the real estate company, you’ve answered the question, “What would make it possible to make a deal?” with, “ I want this house at this price.”

Now the seller has valuable information to work with, because you have clarified and stated what you want. If the seller does choose to meet the condition that you have stated, that’s a pretty persuasive influence to follow through with the purchase, isn’t it? After all, they are giving you what you asked for!

“What would make it possible…?” is an effective question for many applications, not just sales. It’s a great negotiating tool whenever you are trying for a win-win result.

For example, I heard an anecdote recently about Cristal, a newly licensed driver, who is wise beyond her years. She was making the request to her mom to be allowed to drive to a party by herself. Mom has flatly stated, “No” and she’s not budging. Finally, Cristal asks, “What would make it possible for you to let me drive to this party?”

Mom offers a litany of conditions. “You have to check in immediately when you get there; no stops along the way; no passengers; be back by 10PM on the dot, etc.”

Cristal’s response: “OK. So if I do all that, I can go?”

Well, now Mom’s committed, isn’t she? So when Cristal does drive to the party, and does fulfill all the conditions that Mom set out for her, both Cristal and her Mom are setting up conditions for further trust and future negotiation.

Are you familiar with situations or conflicts where it seems like there’s no common ground? Would asking the question, “What would make it possible…” be helpful?

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