How to Get People to Do What You Want


The holidays are here. It’s real. Thanksgiving was just a warmup for all the festivities that will happen throughout this month. While everyone says the holidays are not for getting gifts, we all know that deep down inside, presents are fucking awesome.

One of the only things I want besides USC making it to the Rose Bowl or a French press coffee maker is for my boyfriend to start to eat less like a frat boy and more like a person who is aware of his own mortality.

I’ll give him credit. When we met, he was eating at Panda Express every day and felt he needed to eat back all his calories in the form of burgers and fries after going to the gym. It took some work, but he has since not eaten shitty “Chinese” takeout or stuffed himself with enough food to get him to almost-puke territory.

I have my part-time, high school/now-post-college job to thank for that. I work with kids ages 4-15, and the whole, “I don’t teach them. They teach me” thing sounds super cheesy, but it’s also super true. They’ve taught me that I need to pluck my eyebrows because kids notice every little thing about you as they stare blankly at your face. They’ve taught me that I can’t really do middle school math anymore without the solution book in front of my face. But most of all, they’ve me how to get what I want, with an 85 percent success rate. All you have to do is pretend like you’re dealing with a child.

Sometimes it takes some time and energy to convince people you absolutely need a puppy for Christmas or will die if you don’t get a new blender because now it comes in aquamarine. For these tough cases, I like to refer to my little guide on how to get people to do what you want. And I’m, like, pretty sure it’ll work for you because if I got Bee to eat plants, you can get anyone to do anything.

1. Logic

Use those reasoning skills you learned in school when you had to write persuasive essays. Make a pro/con list. Play devil’s advocate, so you can anticipate some fight back. Think like someone who is not the logical, smart, beautiful you. And then craft your argument.

“Vegetables are good for you. They have a low calorie content. They’re filling. They’re packed with nutrients. Have you ever heard of someone dying from eating too much broccoli? I don’t think so.”

Sometimes this will work. Most times, he’ll still opt for a bacon cheeseburger and give you the lettuce and tomatoes he thinks are gross. Don’t give up. Move to step 2.

2. Negotiate

We all saw how Tom Hanks saved America or something in “Bridge of Spies” by negotiating. He used his young voice and talking-like-a-smart-person talents to organize a trade of people in two European countries (that I honestly thought were the same place the whole time). Well, what if I told you that, you, too, could be Tom Hanks?

The trick in this case is to lower your standards for what you consider a “vegetable.” This can mean saying that, yes, mayo-dressed coleslaw, buttered cheese corn, or even the few sizzling onions under all that Korean beef count.

“Why don’t you order coleslaw instead of fries, since we already had cheese potatoes today? No? Okay.” Moving on.

3. Use “We”

No one likes being told what to do. With the kids at work, 95 percent of the time, they are more likely to disobey if you ask them to do something like “make sure your bottom stays on the chair and cover your mouth when you sneeze or at least give me a warning so I can run the other way.”

However, if you make it about “us,” it makes it sound like you’re in it together. It’s also a little nicer, a little less aggressive, and a little quieter than yelling “AGAIN, YOU LITTLE SHIT?!” after you’ve been coughed on for the tenth time.

“I don’t like the way we’ve been eating lately. I think we should incorporate more leafy greens in our diet, and maybe less things like Cheez-Its and potato chips and literally everything except food that’s good for you– I mean, us.

He might get the hint, or he might respond with something like, “okay, well, you can do that” and continue to stuff fries in his mouth, two at a time.

4. Be Forward

It’s time to get real. You tried to be nice, but now it’s time to say:

“You can’t eat beef for every meal. You are not five years old. Refusing to eat vegetables is not cute. When you say, ‘I had a carrot stick at lunch, so I’m good,’ I want to light myself on fire. And for the last time, a potato that has been deep fried is not a vegetable. I mean, it is because science says so, but it’s not.”

That should get the job done, but there are some stubborn people out there, and if you happen to be blessed with someone who:

a) is resistant to change for the better

b) sees nothing wrong with getting a half-serving of vegetables per day, and,

c)  is being a butthead

Then it’s time to take drastic measures, and proceed to step 5.

5. Deception

At my job, this step is saved for the most stubborn kids who require extra prompting (aka saying “focus” and “let’s finish” and “you are not keeping me here past closing again because you refuse to read” through your teeth). In special cases such as these, you literally have to trick them into doing what you say.

Don’t even mention the V-word. Just sneak some asparagus or mushrooms into one of his “safe” foods, like an omelette, and don’t say anything until he’s done. Upon finishing, ask how he liked it. If he says it was good, ask again. If he insists it was “good, and why are you asking me so many times?” you can let him know you poisoned him with nutrients and proceed to watch his mind explode.

There you have it. You are now on your way to a Kate Spade bag, new car, or a kitten, just in time for the holidays! You’re welcome.

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