How To Get Buy-In: It’s all about positive energy

How To Get Buy In

Take a look at this chart; I got it from here:

Levels of Buy-In

“Buy-in” is a pretty important concept, all told. If you have an idea and you can’t get people to buy into it, what’s the value of the idea? In harshest terms, the value is zero. This is a little bit similar to something I wrote a few days ago about how you get an idea to catch on.

If you look at the chart above, and look where the red line is, the core idea here is positive energy. Below the red line, the energy of the interaction is negative. Above the red line, the energy is positive, then getting more positive, etc. To quote Darden at UVA:

So, what a leader is really trying to do with any endeavor is create positive energy in those who are responding. Getting “buy-in” is not a binary event, it is an analog event. When you ask people to do something, pay attention to their levels of “buy-in.”

This is actually really important. We always think that “buy-in,” as a concept, is somehow tied to hierarchy — like, if someone with formal power in an organization says “This is an idea we’re pursuing,” then that idea is pursued. In many cases, this is true — which is a little bit sad, because having formal power has nothing to do with having knowledge on every topic.

But if you think about this in the context of “positive energy,” then anyone can get buy-in for a concept/idea (within reason) if they simply focus on making it a source of/cause for positive energy in the people they’re interacting with about the idea.

Think of it like this:

Most people present ideas as “This is now a priority,” etc. (Especially at work.)

Instead, you could present ideas as “Here’s something we are considering. The potential awesome benefits include…”

That’s a really simple change — essentially it’s just a few words — but in the first example you’re telling someone “This is a thing now” (removing their connection to it) and in the second example you’re showing them what awesome things might happen if they get behind this concept. Remember: when people buy a product, they don’t really buy the product; they buy a better version of themselves through the product. It’s the same way with ideas.


Ted Bauer


  1. Good chart and closing reminder. What is your Twitter name? This article should be tweeted.

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