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Techniques Willpower > Build-Up

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



To use a build-up of willpower, steadily increase the pressure on the other person, showing that you will not give in and that you have an iron will. For example:

  • Start by being polite, asking for what you want.
  • Then ask again, still politely, acting as if they have quite reasonably forgotten.
  • Then point out the person's obligation to fulfil their promise, asking when they will complete this and rejecting any long delays.
  • Shorten the interval between checking up on the person. Do not smile.
  • Be steadily firmer, making direct demands.
  • Act like a dripping tap, repeating the same request


A person in work needs a peer to review their work. They agree this but then the other person delays. The person asks in increasingly short intervals, sending emails, phoning up and talking about it in public until the other person completes the work.

A child wants something from their parent. They ask, then whine and eventually have a full-blown screaming tantrum. When this doesn't work they just going into a long term sulk, refusing to cooperate until they get their way.


When you ask other people to do things, it is easy for them to think that they can say no or change their minds at any time.

The build-up approach is to indicate that you are not going to give in and that you will continue to increase the pain and trouble for them until they give in and give you what you want.

The effect on the person is to steadily increase the tension that they feel until either they change their minds or they give in to the increasing pressure that is being applied to them.

This is an approach that both parents and children use when they are nagging or asking (depending on one's viewpoint!). Although not the most friendly of methods, it is useful when more polite and less pressured ways seem to be ineffective.

A build-up is different to persistence methods which may well keep actions at the same or limited level of pressure. With a build-up, the pressure is increased.

See also

Escalation, Tension principle, Persistence, Persistence principle


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