Is This The Most Persuasive Question Ever?

I recommended a book to my friend in Canada. The title of the book is “Never Split The Difference” by Chris Voss. I had forgotten about it. We then started a project together. But I didn’t complete my portion.

My friend is a very patient person, but my lack of finishing projects – especially money-making projects – frustrates him to this day. I can’t even recall what it was now, but he reminded me over and over and over again, yet I didn’t do it.

So one morning, he sent me a WhatsApp message. It was one question, one line. First, Vancouver is nine hours behind Nigeria, so he made sure he sent the message in such a way that it would be the first thing I saw in the morning.

Immediately I saw the message, I responded and did what he expected.

The next message from him embarrassed me. “It works!” he shouted.

What works? I knew what he was talking about. The question he sent me got me to do what he couldn’t persuade me to do for weeks.

I knew the question myself. Well, I recommended the damn book to him! But I shouldn’t have been embarrassed. My friend was just trying to get his lazy friend to do his job. And I’m glad that he did.

But most importantly, I was disappointed in myself for not recognizing the move until after the fact.

You’re itching to know that one line he sent, right?

Here is the question he whatsapped me: “have you given up on the X project?”

Doesn’t look like much. But it is one of the most powerful persuasion tools I know.

After my friend used it on me, I purposed to use same on one of my bosses in government.

The Governor had approved something for me. What was left was the difficult process of follow-up. The Governor gave me the options of two persons from whom to do so.

I chose the person who is very fast and efficient in such matters. Unfortunately, this time, he was too busy.

But first, let me give you the background. You see, I had begun a six-month program in Advanced Cybersecurity at Stanford University. Shortly after starting, I realized that cybersecurity didn’t excite me. Since the program was too expensive, I considered dropping out.

But within the first two months, a friend in NNPC and the only other person who was doing the program in Nigeria congratulated me and asked me to check the class leaderboard.

I did and was humbled to find that after the first few assessments, I was ranked number one in the class. Ahead of about 50 other students from about five continents. Some of the countries represented are the United States, India, Jamaica, Saudi, Nigerians resident in other countries, etc. I was so excited I shared the results with the Governor, friends and family members.

How could I drop out now? I joined adashi (thrift) to fund the program, but I used the money to pay other people’s school fees. Fortunately, by now, I had paid for half of the program. I struggled to pay for the remaining half. The school warned me that I was sliding behind and that if I didn’t pay, my remaining classes would be deferred.

A friend asked me to talk to the Governor. I didn’t want to. “As a government employee, you’re entitled to education assistance. After all, you teach computing for free in Minna,” he persuaded.

After much hesitation, I talked to HE and the Governor approved the remaining half.

But after many weeks, the money didn’t come. So I wheeled out the big gun: “Sir, have you given up on this?” I said in a message to the boss concerned. I got the money within 24 hours.

Series count: 63/100

  • Dr Ibraheem Dooba
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