Persuasion vs Order! Who wins?

There are 2 ways of asking what you want to be done. One is Order and the other is Persuasion. 


Life is busy for everyone these days. Loads of task on head coming from everywhere and the person who is already busy, why will he do your task while holding other’s.


Let’s start this with a story.

I tried an experiment number of times before writing this article. This article also discusses internet service deals to go for and covers the topic quite well.


I walked into a bank towards help desk to get a form to apply for a new bank account and “I didn’t carry my pen”. It was rush hour in bank. I took a form and stood near a table where everyone else was filling their form. I used to ask them to lend me there pen in two different ways. For example –


Persuasion – “Hi, Actually I have to fill this form and I forgot my pen at home. It will be great if you can help me with your pen for a minute.”


Order – “I need your pen.”


Please note – My voice and expression mattered a lot while expressing these two sentences. Order was expressed like an “Order”.


So, What do you think which of them worked most of the times?


Ans. It was Persuasion which worked for most (90%) of the time. Because I explained why I was looking for pen, why I didn’t carry my pen, I will be grateful if helped and also told him the time. On the other hand I was ordering him to give me his pen while he was himself busy that too without explaining any of the above.



Order never connects the task giver and the taker emotionally. Because we are humans and we really work on emotions. It is extremely important to connect emotionally to do something or to get something done. Suppose, I am a task giver and you are a task taker I “Order” you to do something without explaining you the impact or the reason behind. It is less likely that you will do it and even less or no chance that you will put real hard efforts to do that or you will find creative ways of doing same.



Persuasion connects the task giver and the taker emotionally. Persuasion is one the most influential factors that help us say “YES”. Because I am informing you why I need this done, you are the one who can help me in getting this done(importance of you) and this will be the impact. Then you are more likely to do that and will surely apply your creative thinking in doing this task at its best.

Humans are not computer, You can order a computer to get something done by ordering/commanding but not Humans.


There are 6 principles of persuasion:

  • Reciprocation
  • Social Proof
  • Commitment and Consistency
  • Liking
  • Authority
  • Scarcity


Persuasion is the smart key for a successful business leader, people leader or anyone who is sometime, somewhere dependent on someone to get there job done.


Now, allow me end this with another story.

My job was to get things done as I was the incharge of a product from the team who used to be overloaded with tasks. So, I was supposed to get some data uploaded to database by the team and there was a deadline for me every Monday. I used to send team several mails ordering them that it should be done by Monday morning but never visited them to explain and make them understand that why this was so critical, what will be the impact and this used to be delayed by 3-4 days every time.


After getting frustrated with this continuity I escalated this story to their manager expecting him to “order” and get this done and even then there was no way this worked for me and again same problem “Delay”. I continued my escalation to a few more managers in the hierarchy with same expectation that they will order their juniors to listen but I landed up being at the same spot. No improvement at all.


Finally I decided to escalate the matter to CEO of the company with the mail trail of “no responses” from the hierarchy of managers and I received no reply from him as well for two days. Surprisingly he was the one who used to always ask me why data is not uploaded to server on time. Now I had no clue on what to do. Next day he was walking by the passage and I stopped to ask “Did you manage to check my mail”. He replied yes and then he said the team already have enough in plate that even If I ask them to do they mat refuse by explaining me the load of task they have in hand.


Then he gave me a suggestion that the best way of getting your job done is to persuade them. I was really stunned by that reply that the CEO of the company says he can’t really do something about this. I thought about it and took his suggestion and went on to apply. I explained team the importance and priority of task, why they should be doing this and what will be the impact of same. I asked them to think about this and next week onwards the result started to be POSITIVE. I used to get uploads done on time. More to that they worked so hard, after their working hours for almost two weeks to make that whole system as automated as possible and the success was at its peak.


So far this has worked for me in most of the situations. I am sure this can work for you as well.


“I think the power of persuasion would be the greatest superpower of all time.”

Who do you think wins and why?