Eliciting Multiple Reasons

Eliciting multiple reasons is a technique that can be used to make something more or less attractive. The goal here is that:

  • When you ask for a small number of reasons for something, such as one, the person will succeed and their liking is reinforced;
  • When you ask for a high number of reasons for something, such as ten, the person will fail and their liking is lessened;

So, you can, for example, say:

  • “Can you just list one reason that you like our product?”;
    • “Yes, I do like this”;
    • Their certainty is increased;
  • “Can you list ten reasons against our product?”;
    • “Well, uh, the price, and it doesn’t have this feature, and uh, I don’t know”;
    • Their certainty is lessened;

You can use both the version that works and the one that fails for you or against you.

  • One reason works, so you can ask:
    • “Can you give me one reason why you like our product?”;
    • “Can you give me one reason why this other product may be worse?”;
  • Ten reasons fails, so you can ask:
    • “Can you give me ten reasons why you dislike our product?”;
    • “Can you give me ten reasons why you like this other product?”;

It’s important to state that, in extreme cases, this technique won’t work:

  • If you ask them for one reason why they like you/your value proposition, and they don’t even have one;
  • If you ask them for ten reasons why they dislike you/your value proposition, and they have ten or more;
  • But to be honest, if they don’t even have one reason for liking you, or if they have ten against you just like that, you weren’t going to close them anyway…;
    • It can help identify low-quality influence targets;

It’s also important to state this technique should be used in the room. It’s an immediate technique. It’s not something you should do in the long-term, asking the person to come up with ten reasons and give them time to think.

  • In many cases, people can’t find ten reasons even with time to think… but you don’t want to give them a chance;

Underlying Psychology/Biases

This can be considered a type of intent labeling. When you ask for one reason, the person is stating their reasoning and crystalizing it. But when you ask for a high number and it fails, it actually backfires and they lose belief in it. It’s almost as if the person wants to crystalize their belief, but they can’t, because they don’t have the material to do so.


  • When you use the version with the high number of reasons (the one that fails), after the person fails, rub it in even more
    • “Can you give me ten reasons for hiring this other candidate?”;
      • “Well, they have good qualifications, they have a couple of referrals, and they’re nice”;
      • “So, three reasons. That’s all. That’s it”;
      • “Yes, I guess”;
      • “I just want to check. No more reasons. Just three. That’s it”;
      • “Uh, yes”;
  • A variation of this technique is to ask for examples instead of reasons, or for people that agree with it:
    • “Give me ten examples where this happened, and I will believe you”;
    • “Find me ten people that think our product is a bad idea, and I’ll stop pushing this”;
    • It’s not as powerful, as in the case of reasons, the person is stating their liking/dislike (so it’s intent labeling as well in this case), but they can still be useful;
  • A less sophisticated version of this that you can find in everyday life is just asking someone to elaborate
    • For example, if the person is giving you a “no” and you know they have no facts behind it, you can ask them to elaborate;
    • Or if the person is leaning towards a “yes” and you know they have facts behind it, you can ask them to elaborate here as well;
    • In this case, the results will vary a lot more, because you don’t have a cutoff;
      • With reasons, you have a clear cutoff. One reason works because it’s easy to satisfy. Ten reasons doesn’t work, because it’s hard to satisfy;
      • But when you just ask someone to elaborate, what condition satisfies it? It’s hard to tell;
    • This is why this technique is better off left alone. It’s guaranteed to work only for extreme cases (when you’re sure the person can elaborate on your liking, or when you’re sure they can’t elaborate on their dislike for you);



  • “Just give me a reason”
    • People usually ask this, and it’s the wrong way to use it;
    • When you ask for just one reason for someone’s point of view, they can easily state it and reinforce it;
  • “And so what?”
    • An example of pressing the wound;
    • When the person fails to give ten reasons and just gives one or two, minimise them;
    • “And so what? Is that all? Are those the only reasons? And so what?”;
  • “Tell me why you like it”
    • When you ask someone to tell you why they like something (such as a friend asking, “Why do you like that movie?”), this technique always reinforces their liking, because any number of reasons works;
  • “What did you love?”
    • Again, when a coach or consultant asks someone, “What did you love about the session?”, the person giving one reason will reinforce their liking;
    • Unless, of course, the session is so bad that… they can’t even find one reason;


  • POW conversion
    • How governments would convert prisoners of war into traitors;
    • They would not start with a big ask. “Tell me why your country fails”;
    • They would start with a small ask. “Tell me one reason why you think your country is wrong”. “Tell me one reason why you think our country is right”;
    • And then, with time, they could request more, until the person was fully converted;
  • “Friends”
    • Just like with “Just give me a reason”, it’s a bad example of this. Exactly how you shouldn’t use it;
    • In the TV show “Friends”, it would be frequent for someone to have a bad idea, and someone else to ask, “Just tell me one reason why that is true”, or “Just find me one person that thinks that is a good idea”;
    • One example is always easy to satisfy, so this is setting yourself up for failure;
    • This technique would work if the person’s idea is so bad that there is not even one reason for it (which I guess was their point), but it still doesn’t work, because anybody can come up with one reason or one example;

Commercial/Known Uses

Key Takeaways

  • Low works, high fails. Asking for one reason almost always works, and asking for ten almost always fails;
  • You can use it against you or for you.
    • For example, one reason always works, so you can ask for one reason for you, or one reason against the other side. Vice-versa for ten;
  • You can explicitly press when the person fails to provide ten reasons to break them more easily;
  • This is a type of intent labeling technique. One reason is intent labeling, reinforcing their liking, and ten reasons is failed intent labeling, having a snapback effect;