Do you have what it takes to make someone do something they may not really want to do?  Take doing the dishes at work.  Maybe you can find that one person or group of people that are easily influenced or just simply don’t mind pitching in to keep a clean eating area.  But what about everyone else?  Can you really make them do the dishes even if they don’t really want to?

Gretchin Rubin, a bestselling writer about habits and happiness, says that people have four tendencies that shape how they respond to things…upholding, questioning, obligating and rebelling.

  1. Upholders:  If you’re someone that wants to know what should be done when asked to do something, then you might respond better when being approached with more detailed and clearly defined requests.  It’s not enough to simply post a sign asking that the kitchen area be kept clean, but rather more clarity on what needs to be cleaned, when it needs to be cleaned and maybe even how it needs to be cleaned.  If you never want to see a dirty dish in the sink, then that’s what needs to be communicated to this group.  If you’re someone who likes things done a certain way, be clear on what you expect so both sides can be happy.  These people want to perform and it comes from delivering on clear expectations.
  2. Questioners:  Maybe you’re someone who likes to understand why things are being asked of you and perhaps you need justification for a request.  You ask a lot of questions so that you can see the bigger picture and draw your own conclusions.  Commanding someone, or simply creating a rule that the dishes need to be done, doesn’t cut it for this group.  You better be able to make a clear case and it sure better make sense.
  3. Obligers:  These people are an easy-going part of the team because they want to follow through on what’s asked of them….they’re high level team players and they’ll do what it takes to be helpful, accommodating and agreeable.  What goes along with that is the requirement to make this group feel accountable for what’ being asked.  They don’t want to let their team down and they’ll do what’s needed to keep the peace.  So, being asked to do the dishes….no problem,
  4. Rebels:  Ahhhh….okay now we’re cooking with gas.  If you’ve got to make your request to a rebel you’re probably going to have a tough go.  Particularly if you want to be specific about what you need done.  Don’t tell them what to do, but rather ask for a certain outcome and let them have the freedom to deliver it in their own way. If there’s any room for wiggle at all, have them be part of determining that a solution is needed and defining that along with you.   Micro-managers beware….you’re in dangerous waters with this group if you think you’re going to tell them what to do.

So, can you get someone to do the dishes at work?  If you use your influence skills directed to these four types of people, you might have a fighting chance.  Caveat….if someone is doing the dishes and you’re still not happy, make sure you check why that is…..and if you’re thinking “Yes you’re doing the dishes, but I want you to WANT to do the dishes” you might be biting off more than you can chew.   Don’t take things too far. Influencing others to do what needs to get done is one thing but making them want to do it is at another level.  Create reasonable expectations or prepare to be disappointed and for others to be discouraged by a no-win situation.