It’s Optional, Except It’s Not: You’ve Been Voluntold | Kanebridge News
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It’s Optional, Except It’s Not: You’ve Been Voluntold

If you’ve ever had your hand raised for you, we can help

Fri, Apr 28, 2023 8:15amGrey Clock 3 min

Come to my meeting. Plan my bachelorette party. Help with this project that’s totally not in your job description.


We’ve all been there, trying to persuade people to do things they don’t have to do, and probably don’t want to either. Or, we’re staring down a painful request ourselves.

“Inside, you’re questioning, like, how did I get here?” says Matt Brattin, a software company executive based in Fresno, Calif.

Over the years, he has been talked into everything from taking notes at meetings that had nothing to do with his job to donning a giant gnome costume at an employee event in the Texas summer heat. (He was working for Travelocity—whose mascot was a gnome—at the time.)

“Is this a thing I even have an option to say no to?” he wondered.

Definitely. It’s time to learn the delicate art of ‘voluntelling’: persuading people to help, or, if you’re the one always being voluntold, getting out of it.

The power of silence

Scoring the answer you want starts with asking the right questions, says Jonah Berger, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

You want to pose queries that guide the person down a path that inevitably ends at the destination of your choosing. Aren’t you excited about so-and-so’s new baby? (Yes!) Shouldn’t we have a shower for her? (Of course!) Can you help me plan it?

Make sure to pause frequently as you encourage the person toward your conclusion, says Prof. Berger, the author of a book about the magic words we can use to persuade others. A moment of silence is a cue for the other person to shake their head yes or mutter “uh huh.”

“They are implicitly starting to agree with what you’re saying,” he says. “You’ve given them that space.”

Best to also give the person choices. Would he rather be in charge of finding a venue, or coordinating the food? We all want to feel like we have autonomy, Prof. Berger says. Confronted with specific options, we’re more likely to focus on the possibilities we’ve been given, not declining altogether.

Skip the apologies

Don’t be tentative or apologetic with your request, says Bob Bordone, who coaches executives on negotiation. Saying sorry gives the person an easy window to say no.

“I’d be super grateful if you could help us out with this,” Mr. Bordone recommends saying.

Tap in to the other person’s perspective to make the offer one that they want to say yes to. What’s important to them? What do they care about?

When Wassia Kamon, a finance professional in the Atlanta area, noticed the supply-chain team at a former job was putting wrong data into her accounting system, she knew confronting the team’s leader with accusations and demands wouldn’t get her anywhere. The group didn’t report to her, and the executive had years more experience than she did.

Instead, she explained she wanted the departments to work better together, and help the company run more smoothly. After the pair held a group meeting with both departments, the supply-chain workers stopped making mistakes, and Ms. Kamon’s relationship with the executive got more cordial, not less.

“How can we form little alliances?” she asks herself.

Add some peer pressure

You can build additional momentum by winning support from people who are close to the person you’re ultimately trying to convince, says Allison Shapira, the chief executive of Global Public Speaking, a firm that trains managers to communicate persuasively. Think about who the person you need the yes from trusts. Get them on board first.

“Now all she’s doing is joining her colleagues in this, as opposed to standing out,” Ms. Shapira says.

Giving a specific deadline can also help, making the request feel less nebulous and open-ended.

If you suspect the person is going to be resistant, you can briefly acknowledge the road blocks or pressures she’s facing. You know she has another project on her plate, or that staffing is tight. Then quickly pivot back to potential solutions. Ms. Shapira recommends asking questions like, “What would make it easier for your team to attend this meeting?”

Say no with conviction

Sometimes, we’re on the other side, our hand raised for us.

Even when we feel we’ve already been roped into something, we still have the power to decline, says Vanessa Patrick, a marketing professor at University of Houston and author of a coming book about the science of saying no.

Avoid making excuses, she advises. At some point in the future, the excuse won’t be applicable. Instead, tie your no to your identity, using the word “don’t.” I don’t lend money to family members. I don’t volunteer in my kid’s classroom during the workday.

Research from Prof. Patrick and a colleague finds that using “don’t” instead of “can’t” increases the chances the person will respect your no, and adds to your resolve.

Worried about sounding harsh? Buffer the direct language with nonverbal cues, such as smiling, leaning forward, using your body language to communicate warmth, she says.

If you’re still tempted to go along with the demand, buy yourself some time by saying it’s your policy to take 24 hours to consider requests. Remind yourself of the opportunity cost. What will you miss out on if you begrudgingly agree to do this?

After all, convincing others to say yes is a valuable skill. But so is saying no when the moment calls for it.


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UAE Initiates State-Owned EV Charging Initiative to Boost Electric Vehicle Acceptance

The United Arab Emirates is improving its electric vehicle infrastructure with a new government-owned EV charging network.

Wed, May 22, 2024 2 min

The UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure (MoEI) alongside Etihad Water and Electricity (Etihad WE) have collaborated to form UAEV, a new joint venture aimed at strengthening the electric vehicle (EV) charging framework throughout the UAE. This venture is the first EV charging network entirely owned by the government, aimed at broadening access to EV charging facilities across the country.

The project seeks to revolutionize the UAE’s transport sector by enabling broader adoption of EVs via a robust and widespread charging infrastructure. This initiative is expected to strengthen communities, generate employment, and promote eco-friendly transportation options.

Suhail bin Mohammed Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, said: “UAEV embodies the power of partnership between government and industry, and aims to provide vital electric vehicle infrastructure to boost adoption of EVs, energize communities, and unleash the economic potential of the UAE.

“We hope that this partnership will further accelerate the transition to cleaner transportation and significantly reduce emissions from the transportation sector, thereby helping to bring our Net Zero 2050 Strategy within reach.”

Sharif Al Olama, who has been appointed Chairman of UAEV, said: “In 2023, we saw a rise in EV adoption in the UAE. By expanding our EV infrastructure, we ensure the country is equipped to support those who have already purchased an EV and make the prospect of switching to EV attractive.

“Together, MoEI and Etihad WE form a powerful force that can help future-proof the UAE and achieve the twin objectives of economic growth and climate action, which underpin UAEV.”

The UAEV is also a perfect platform for Etihad WE, the largest employer in the Northern Emirates and a company with a customer base of over 2 million households, to use its core competency and enhance its product offering.

Yousif Ahmed Al Ali, CEO of Etihad Water and Electricity and Board Member of UAEV, explained: “It is part of a deliberate strategy to diversify our operations, using the knowledge and experience acquired from our role as long-standing pioneers in the energy sector, to explore new products, services, projects, and investments which will benefit our customers.

“UAEV charging infrastructure will contribute to the modernization of the UAE’s transport network, help energize communities by creating new jobs, and empower our customers to make more sustainable choices.”



Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

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