Why, of course: How to influence employee behavior

Your phone chimes, alerting you to a new email. You quickly discover it’s from a former coworker and read the first few lines: “I am participating in a fundraiser for [insert cause]. Will you donate?” Though you don’t delete the email immediately, you close the message because you know its exact purpose: to get you to donate. You’ll think about it, or, more likely, you’ll start thinking of rational-sounding reasons not to contribute.

Imagine, instead, if you open the email and you’re greeted with the following introduction: “June 5th started off like any other day, but it ended with a life-changing diagnosis.” ‘Whoa, where is this going?’ you think. As you continue reading, you learn that your former coworker is fighting a serious illness and is raising money for the cause. You reach for your wallet, inspired to support an old colleague.

What exactly was the difference between the two messages?

It’s Prime Time: Nudge Before You Message

Bingo. Florida. Wrinkle. Do those words prompt any specific mental images? Stubborn. Forgetful. Wise. We’re getting warmer. You may have quickly determined that these are terms often associated with elderly people. However, you might become skeptical if I told you that exposure to those words would cause you to walk  s l o w e r.

Inject the Unexpected: Creating a Memorable Workday

It’s a beautifully peaceful day at the beach, waves occasionally reaching your sand-covered toes. A few clouds are scattered throughout the radiant blue sky, and a gentle breeze hits at all the right times. Your eyes are softly closed behind your sunglasses, but you open them when you hear a flock of seagulls flying overhead. As you glance around, a lady is exiting the water nearby, and you contemplate a quick dip yourself. As the lady leisurely towels herself dry, you notice that her skin is turquoise. After blinking a couple times to confirm what you’re seeing, you find yourself dumbfounded.

Tiring or Inspiring? Boost Onboarding with the Peak-End Rule

Remember the last time you fished around the bottom of an ice-cold cooler for your beverage of choice? Imagine keeping your hand in that frigid water for more than a couple seconds. Not a pleasant hypothetical, huh? However, let’s say you’ve got two options. Option 1: you immerse your hand for 60 seconds and, after the minute has passed, you’re done. Option 2: you submerge your hand for 90 seconds total, but the temperature will increase by 2° F after the first 60 seconds. So, the difference between Option 1 and Option 2 is that the second offering includes a bonus period of 30 seconds of still-pretty-much-ice-cold water. Which unfavorable option are you leaning toward?

To Commit is Legit

You’re browsing your inbox and see an invite for Mark’s Birthday Cookout Extravaganza and Other Shenanigans. You realize it’s the same day as that 5K you registered for, so you’re not sure whether you’ll feel up to it after the early morning run. You’re hesitant to click one of the customized responses – “Heck yes” or “No, I’m a loser” – because you aren’t ready to commit one way or another, and you’ll likely feel tied to whichever option you choose now come Extravaganza day.

Seizing an Opportunity for Unity

Phone calls from your alma mater. Direct mail appeals featuring swoon-worthy puppies. Requests to buy Girl Scout cookies as you’re leaving the grocery store. We’re exposed to more fundraising pleas than ever before, so what is it that persuades us to feel philanthropic and reach into our wallets?

The Psych of Like: Workplace Persuasion

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “liking”? In the age of social media, your brain might have jumped to clicking on a thumbs-up or a heart. But liking dates back much earlier than Facebook and Twitter.

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Envision you’re cruising down the highway, and a new song comes on the radio; it has a great beat and you enjoy the singer’s voice. A few days later, you hear the song and notice a lyric that really hits home, so you feel a connection – a similarity. By the fourth or fifth listen, you’re singing along with the chorus in your head because it’s familiar. It has now achieved Oooh-I-like-this-song! status.

Giving the Dream: Reciprocity in HR

Imagine you go outside to check your mailbox and find a somewhat nondescript envelope with your name on it. Curious, you open the envelope to find a survey that promises $50 upon completion. This deal almost sounds too good to be true. If you complete the survey, will you even get the money after all is said and done? You assume there’s got to be a caveat, like “eligible for first 25 [of one gazillion] respondents.” Not sure whether it’s worth it, you put the envelope and its contents in the ever-growing paper stack on the kitchen counter. Maybe you’ll respond. Maybe you won’t.