Making a “no rocket” out of “yes ladder” pieces

Would you like to be more successful in life?

Would you like to persuade others to your way of thinking?

Would you like to send me a check for $100 so I can show you how?

One of the classic techniques of persuasion is called the “yes ladder.”

You just read an attempt with the questions above.

The first question asks something that’s almost guaranteed to get a yes response.

The second is already more specific.

The third is flat-out unlikely.

But according to people who support the “yes ladder” idea, the fact that you’ve gotten on a roll saying “yes” with the first two questions makes it more likely that you’ll say “yes” when it comes time to answer the third question.

The “yes ladder” has been a standard for politicians, old-school direct marketers, and savvy 9-year olds who want to convince their parents to get a dog.

And there is evidence that it works. Even some scientists got in on the action to prove the “yes ladder” is real.

On the other hand, there’s a good chance people are becoming jaded with this technique.

Here’s expert negotiator Chris Voss, as interviewed by Eric Barker of “Barking Up The Wrong Tree”:

People worry about what have I just committed to by saying yes. But when you say “no”, you don’t commit to anything. Since you just protected yourself, you have a tendency to relax. People actually become a lot more open if they feel they’ve protected themselves.

Voss recommends taking the same basic questions you would ask in the “yes ladder,” but rephrasing them elicit a “no” response. As in, “Would you see a problem with sending me a $100 check?”

Anyways, which one should you go with, the “yes ladder” or the more modern “no rocket”?

It depends on at least two things  — how adept you are at persuasion and how sophisticated your audience is.

John Bejakovic


Have you become as persuasive as you’d like? Because I also write daily emails that could help.