How to Make Your Influence “Stickier”

Want to make your written communications more likely to be read?

Use a sticky note.

Social scientist Randy Garner ran an intriguing study in which he sent out surveys to people with a request to complete them. The survey was accompanied by either (a) a handwritten sticky note requesting completion of the survey, which was attached to a cover letter; (b) a similar handwritten message on the cover letter; or (c) the cover letter and survey alone.

That little yellow square packed quite a persuasive punch: more than 75 percent of the people who received the survey with the sticky note request filled it out and returned it, whereas only 48 percent of the second group and 36 percent of the third group did so.

Garner suggests that people recognize the extra effort and personal touch that this requires, and that they feel the need to reciprocate this personal touch by agreeing to the request. Reciprocity is the social glue that helps bring and keep people together in cooperative relationships – and you can bet that it’s a stronger adhesive than the kind on the back of a sticky note.

An ounce of personalized extra effort is worth a pound of persuasion.

The above information came from a great book entitled “Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive.” Authors Robert Cialdini, Noah Goldstein, and Steve Martin reveal simple but remarkably effective strategies that will make you much more persuasive at work and in your personal life.

This week I have been looking at some of my favorite examples of persuasion from the book in preparation for a major presentation this fall entitled “Selling Change.” You can see the other posts here, here, and here.


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