The Simple Reason People Won’t do as You Ask

Some people just won’t follow commands.

They won’t follow directives; they hate being told to what to do.

This is a problem, particularly if you want them to behave differently, if you want that all elusive “cultural change”.

Some cultural changes are harder than others

Imagine the challenges facing Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the man who transformed the Ottoman Empire into the modern, secular Turkey in the early 20th Century.

Rightly or wrongly, one of his many tasks was to persuade women not to wear the burka or veil.  He realised that if he simply banned it, he would only create uproar and dissent (as the French authorities have found).

His solution was far subtler than that.  He passed a law that permitted women to dress however they wished, unless they were prostitutes, who were compelled to wear the burka.

That did the trick

A simple lesson

If you are trying to change behaviour, it is wise to appeal to people’s self interest.

What is in it for me?

If you enjoyed this post click here for updates delivered straight to your inbox

Girl in Burqa

Read another opinion

Image by exit1979


  1. James,

    Great story, simple lesson, excellent advice!

    Annette :-)

  2. Hi James,
    A subtle approach that works. I like it.


  3. Amazing story! If you want people to do as you say, then make your cause their own personal conviction too.

  4. The complete antithesis of what happens in most call centers . . . no wonder attrition and employee morale are such big issues.

    • James Lawther says:

      I couldn’t agree more Dick, there is nothing quite like being told what to do every minute of every day to get your back up.


Speak Your Mind