Implementation Intention

Implementation intention is a persuasion principle that defends that, when a person is forced to think about how they would implement something, they are more likely to do it, as the mental effort necessary to do it is reduced.

  • Therefore the name. The person must think as if they have the intention of implementing this;
  • In short, once someone visualizes how to do something, they are more likely to do it, just because they already know how;

This can be used to ensure compliance by forcing a person to visualize implementation, but also to provoke objections (which is what trial closes do).

  • This is due to the fact that, when a person is planning on doing something, they will give you a specific answer. When they’re lying, or not planning on doing something, they will give you a false, vague answer;

The Persuasion Psychology Behind the Technique

Implementation intentions works by decreasing the mental effort associated with doing something. Once you’ve visualized how to do it, you’ve created a “mental shortcut” of sorts. It’s easier to visualize now.

It’s also great to detect lies or lack of commitment. When someone can’t visualize how they would do something, they are not committed to it. So you can request visualizing implementation of someone, and if they don’t provide a specific answer, you know they’re not committed.

Implementation intention also causes a variation of inattentional blindness. In short, when you’re not focusing on something, you forget it. This happens visually, but also mentally. When someone makes you focus on how to get something done, you forget about the assumptions.

  • For example, if something has a high price, but the person keeps ask, “How would you buy?”, or “Tell me what it would take to buy”, you will be so focused on that that, sooner or later, the price becomes an assumption;
  • In fact, this is a devastatingly powerful technique termed second layering. You start a discussion or implementation on top of an assumption and, soon enough, the assumption is taken for granted;
    • Donald Trump with “Lyin’ Ted”;
    • Trump would call Ted Cruz “Lying Ted”, but sometimes use “Lyin’”, and sometimes “Lying”;
    • Soon enough, people started a discussion on how to pronounce it, and the assumption Ted Cruz was a liar was just repeated, unquestioned;
    • It’s what people usually use with compound questions. “How long have you been a criminal?”;

To close, simply make the person illustrate how to do something. To identify objections, ask them to illustrate the how and gauge whether their answer is vague or specific.


(4 in Total)

Examples (Provoking Objections)

"How will you vote?"

The original persuasion experiment done. Two groups. Group A: “Will you vote? Yes or no?”; Group B: “How will you vote? At what time? Bus? Walking? Which booth?”. Group B had much higher results in terms of persuasion

"How would you use it?"

Asking someone how they would buy, or how they would use a product forces them to visualize it, which makes them do it more easily later

"How will this happen?"

Asking something how something will be done – how they will complete a project, how they will promoted someone, etc – tests (and reveals) how committed they are to doing it

Examples (Closing)

"How would you do it?"

This is the base version of implementation intention. You’re literally asking, “How would you make this happen? What would be the specifics?”

Tony Robbins questions

The “quality questions” Tony Robbins promotes are just implementation intention used on yourself. How can I be better than ever? How can I make up for these failures?

Owner manuals

Any type of new owner manual (products, services, anything) is good to onboard people who have done your ask, but even better to convert people who haven’t yet

Use Cases For the Four Quadrants

Key Takeaways
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How to Stack This Technique