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It's Up to You


Techniques General persuasionKellerman and Cole's 64 Strategies > It's Up to You

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



Get other people to comply with your requests by pointing out that they have full freedom in deciding what they are going to do.

Point out that they are welcome to choose any option, especially when any of these choices is good for you. You can also point them at one 'best' choice and then say 'It's up to you' though with an implication that choosing other than the way you have indicated would be unwise.


Do you want the blue one or the yellow one? It's up to you.

I'd really like to go out for dinner, but it's up to you.

You don't have to go if you don't want to, but if you stay everyone will be really disappointed.


Unless you have direct power over the other person, then this is effectively an obvious statement. Of course they can decide as they wish. Even if you could coerce them, we are all autonomous agents and still have the option of refusing.

The real principle at work here, then, is not really empowering them, but emphasising their freedom, confirming they are in control. When they do feel in control they are more likely to accept suggestions. When people feel that others are in control they may react in a contrarian way, resisting persuasion just as a way of showing they can still control their fate.

This is often used when you are offering a number of options and want to imply that they can choose any of them. This is still assumptive as it does not explicitly include choosing none of them.

'It's up to you' can also include a veiled threat, implying that, while they of course do have this choice, you have a clear preference and if they choose otherwise you will be very unhappy with them. This is typically used in relationship situations.

Saying 'It's up to you' also emphasizes the responsibility that the person has, and that if their choice does not turn out well, they cannot blame you for making them choose in a particular way. This can avoid later blame and get them to think more carefully about their options. This is particularly useful when you want them to take less risks in their decisions than they might otherwise choose.

It's Up to You is the 39th of the 64 compliance-gaining strategies described by Kellerman and Cole.

See also

Assumption principle, Alternative Close


Kellermann, K. & Cole, T. (1994). Classifying compliance gaining messages: Taxonomic disorder and strategic confusion. Communication Theory, 1, 3-60


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