Five Tips to Get Coworkers to Do What You Want, Without Being Manipulative

There's never a guarantee that people are going to do what you say, but you can certainly hedge your bets!

By , Columnist

If we look to the political arena, it would seem that the only way to get things done of late is to become an absolute bully, pushing people to the brink of what they’re willing to accept and seeing how long it takes them to “come around” to your way of thinking. Cute, right? WRONG. Quid pro quo, even if it’s a distant quo (e.g. you do this for me now and I’ll do something for you when you need me), can be a great relationship-builder in the working world, whereas running someone over like you’ve got “I’m the Juggernaut, bitch!” painted on your forehead is a relationship-crusher.

Now, sadly you’re never going to be able to glamour someone, a la the sexy True Blood vamps, and you’re not always going to be in a position where you can tell people what to do. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t find ways to get what you want out of them. In most cases, all you really have to do is ASK... the right way.

Say the magic words

There’s a reason these things are drilled into us as children, you know - because they work. In fact, “please” and “thank you” are gaining new traction in a thoroughly unexpected place: the Twittersphere. I recently saw data suggesting that tweets containing the word “please” are almost six times more likely to be retweeted! You don’t have to be an etiquette nut, but asking people nicely is a surefire way to make points.


Drill sergeants don’t have to smile because they can just scream you into submission. This is not an approach to take in daily life, as there’s an old and very true adage that says “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” If you’re taking this approach, make sure your face matches your words sincerely. If you have a smile that can charm the  

Give people a reason to say yes

Sometimes, you don’t owe anyone an explanation. But “Please consider me for a raise this month” isn’t going to be as effective as “Please consider me for a raise this month, because over the course of this past year I have worked to become a [insert type of] resource to my coworkers, I’ve brought in [$XX] from my clients, and I demonstrate my value to this company every day.” Be well-spoken, sincere, and pleasant and you’re much more likely to be heard.

Pay attention to your “target”

Don’t get stalker-licious with me or anything, but if you’re often around the person in question, then you probably know what they like to see and hear from people. Capitalize on that recon when you frame your request.

Be proactive.

Reverse the quid pro quo and give the other person “quid” first. This is more of a preemptive strike, before you really need something. Otherwise, it comes across as bribery (which is, clearly, bad). But if you’re trying to build a rapport, grab the person in question a cup of coffee on a Starbucks run, offer to copy those papers for them since you’re already headed to the Xerox machine, etc. Don’t be mousy about it, but just be your helpful pleasant self. Nice guys don’t always finish last, after all!

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Emmie Scott is an English major-turned-marketing exec, with a passion for writing, humor, sharing knowledge, and "pink drinks." After hours, she started Are Toe Rings Professional Attire?, a blog for college grads and twenty-somethings looking to find their way through that daunting labyrinth called…

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