updated 9/2/2012 1:08:43 PM ET 2012-09-02T17:08:43

All the "pretty pleases" in the world won't get you what you want in your adult life--even if you put a cherry on top. But there's another sneaky way to win people over to your side: Asking for something weird first.

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Researchers at the Warsaw School of Social Sciences and Humanities in Poland found that when people encounter a strange request, they're much more likely to agree to the next thing you ask for.

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It's basically a more effective version of the classic "foot-in-the-door" approach, says study author Dariusz Dolinski, a researcher at the Warsaw School--like the classic panhandler strategy of asking for the time and then following up with a request for change.

But make the first request even weirder, Dolinski says, and you're even more likely to get what you want. Why does this work? Simple: By hearing a strange request, people's normal refusal script is thwarted. This then makes them start to wonder about their reactions, why they were asked that kind of question in the first place, and leads them to conclude that they must be the kind of person who fulfills such requests.

Dolinski's hunch--that strange primary solicitations result in more subsequent compliance--was supported by his experiments. In one, he planted a man in front of a supermarket to ask shoppers one of two questions: Either to take a standard survey, or to tie his shoe. Beyond, a woman waited to ask shoppers to watch her cart while she went back into the store to find her husband.

Sure enough, only the request to tie shoes resulted in a greater likelihood of watching the woman's cart.

So before you go out of town for a week and ask your neighbor to cat-sit Sniffles--ask her to read you a story first.

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