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Winning Commitment

Project Management Training Part 4

The most powerful model in the world for influencing people or winning commitment is probably the "Push-Pull" model.

Push and Pull

The concepts of Push and Pull originate in judo: when one opponent pushes, the other pulls, and vice versa.

In interpersonal terms, Push and Pull are two modes of dealing with other people:

Push Pull
Declare your own agenda

Focus on your needs

Tell your motivations or reasoning

Make proposals or suggest ideas

Declare how you feel
Find out about their agenda

Focus on their needs

Find out their motivations or reasoning

Ask for proposals or ideas

Find out how they feel

Exercise 1

To consolidate your understanding of the Push-Pull model, consider each of the following statements and indicate by checking the box whether you think it is Push or Pull statement.

Statement Push Pull
What would you like to talk about?
I need that report from you by 4pm.
You seem a bit unhappy today....
If you do that, the system won't work....
Why not work late to get the problem sorted?

Right:        Wrong:

The last statement (in the table above) could be either a push or pull statement, depending on how it is said.

If it is said in a tone that says "I want you to work late" then it is a push statement.

But if it is said to enquire genuinely about the problems the person is facing, then it is a pull statement.

Whether a statement is push or pull does not depend just on whether it is a statement or question. Rather, it depends on whether you are asserting your views and agenda, or trying to draw out the other person's views. That's why "You seem a bit unhappy" is a pull statement: because it is trying to find out the other person's feelings.


In Judo, winning depends partly one choosing to push and pull at the right times.

Project Management Training: Soft Skills Tools

Project Management Training



Trust and Rapport


Winning Commitment


Using Power



Small Teams

Group Conflicts

Team Development

Managing Difference


Team Islands

In/Out Groups

Building the wider team

Large Projects

Project Culture

Putting it all together

Consider the following situations and indicate whether you think a push or pull response would be more effective:

Situation Push Pull
The other person has some hidden agendas
Time is very short
The other person is powerful
You need a lot of commitment from them
The other person doesn't know what to do

Right:        Wrong:

Although there are some designated right and wrong answers for the above situations, in all of them it will likely be appropriate to use both push and pull at some point.

For example, if you are dealing with someone who has hidden agendas then the use of "pull" techniques provides you with the best possibility of finding out what those hidden agendas are. However, if they remained closed to communication no matter how much you "pull", then you have to resort to "push" techniques to make clear what you require of them.

Exercise 3

What might happen in a working relationship if both people are using solely ‘push’ statements?

What might happen in a working relationship if both people are using solely ‘pull’ statements?

What might happen in a working relationship if one person is using solely ‘push’ statements, and the other is using solely ‘pull’ statements?


What style (pull or push) do you tend to take? What changes could you make to the way you deal with people in order to be more influential and win their commitment?

The next article in this online course is:

Project Management Training:
Soft Skills Part 5: Listening

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©2013 Team Technology. Further articles/resources that may be of interest include: Personality Test, Personality Type Descriptions, Myers Briggs overview, The Basics of Team Building, What Career is Right for Me?, and Career ideas.