If you ever wanted to receive input about an idea you have, would you ask someone for their “advice”, “opinion” or “expectations” about the idea?

Would you think it mattered how you framed the question?

The differential phrasing might seem minor, but knowing which word to say is absolutely necessary in getting other people to provide you feedback as well as getting other people to want to work with you.

In the book “Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way To Influence and Persuade,” psychology and marketing professor Robert Cialdini says,

“Asking for advice puts a person in a merging state of mind, which stimulates a linking of one’s own identity with another party’s. Asking for an opinion or expectation, on the other hand, puts a person in an introspection state of mind, which involves focusing on oneself.”

Although asking for “advice” is only a slightly different form of asking for help, it can have a significant positive impact on the people you’re asking.

This is what happened in one of the studies that Robert Cialdini cites in this book.

In the study, a group of online survey takers from around the United States are shown a description of a business plan for a new restaurant called Splash.

After reading the description, the survey participants were asked for their feedback. The only thing, however, is that some of the survey takers were asked for their “advice” whereas other survey takers were asked either for their “opinions” or “expectations.”

Lastly, they were asked how likely they’d be to eat at Splash.

The results showed that the participants who provided their “advice” wanted to eat at Splash significantly more than the participants who provided either their “opinion” or their “expectations.”

Remember, asking for participants to give their advice puts the participants in a togetherness state of mind rather than a separateness state of mind, which helps increase the participants desire to support the restaurant.

So, whenever you’re seeking input from your customers, peers or even your boss, it’s worth asking them for their “advice”.

“The novelist Saul Bellow once observed, “When we ask for advice, we are usually looking for an accomplice.” I’d only add on the basis of scientific evidence that, if we get that advice, we usually get that accomplice.”