Imagine you’re standing in a queue waiting to print some copies. A person approaches you saying:
01)“Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine?”
02) “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I have to make copies?”
03) “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”
In which of the above scenarios would you let the person cut in line?
“HELLO” OR “HELLO”?
Still, the highest proportion of our business communication occurs via email. The problem with the email communication is that we’re sending messages, but we’re not sure whether the recipient recognizes the emotion we’re trying to convey in the email.
For example, I can write “Hello!” because I’m greeting you.
But I can also write “Hello!?” as an interjection when describing other people’s lack of understanding.
An email cannot convey the emotion fairly…
People are seldom aware of this problem, and not only when it comes to written communication. But it also happens when I tell them that their message is too aggressive (for example, using the words “must” or “should”) or that the context of their message is not appropriate, I often get a response: “But that’s only one word…”
ONLY ONE WORD…
Let’s go back to the experiment from the beginning of this text. In which scenario would you let a person go in front of you in a queue?
This experiment was conducted way back in 1978. by a psychology professor Ellen Langer. It was very unusual for everyone to own a printer back then, so professor Langer wanted to test whether the word “because” can impact the participants’ decision to let people go ahead of them in a queue.
These were the results:
Question no. 1: 60% of participants let the person in front of them
Question no. 2: 93% of participants let the person in front of them
Question no. 3: 94% of participants let the person in front of them
Even though their arguments why they must cut in line were more than silly (“I have to make copies”, “I’m in a hurry), the fact that they used the word “because” drastically changed the outcome.
Next time you send an email, pitch an idea, ask for a raise or use your vocabulary in any possible way, take into account that only one word can make a big difference.
Why? Because somebody tested it before you… :)
Behavioral marketing specialist, Google Growth Engine Ambassador (Adriatics) and founder of Promosapiens. Dalibor is a regular speaker at the international conferences: Shopper Brain (Netherlands), Dubai Lynx (UAE), Euroshop (Germany), Family Thinking Marketing Forum (Poland), Branding Conference (BiH), MEKST (Serbia), HOW Festival (Croatia), just to name a few… His lectures with the practical examples of behavioral marketing are regularly the highest rated among the audience.