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The Minimalists
The Minimalists are Emmy-nominated Netflix stars and New York Times–bestselling authors Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. Alongside their podcast cohost, T.K. Coleman, this simple-living trio helps millions of people eliminate clutter and live meaningfully with less. Learn More.

Would You Be Willing To?

Whenever something is going wrong, whenever I’m not getting the desired outcome, whenever I need support, these five words help more than anything else: Would you be willing to (blank)?

I have to take my daughter to school. Would you be willing to move our meeting to the afternoon?

I found this item for less elsewhere. Would you be willing to give me a refund?

I’m dissatisfied with your business. Would you be willing to make this a better customer experience?

If the other person cares, they’re unlikely to say, “No, I’m not willing to help you!”

Would you be willing to (blank) is more effective than even a fervent demand, because the implicit message is more empowering: I think you have the power to help me, and if you care, you’ll come to my aid.

Contrast that with, “You’re going to help me or else!”

Which is more likely to persuade you?

Just like demands, we must be careful with requests. Used appropriately—and sparingly—these five words will create a better experience for both parties. Overdo it, though, and you’ll seem like a parasite: always taking, never contributing. And even the politest parasites are still annoying. People would rather help people who are helpful.