In Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini describes this scene:
The volunteers of Hare Krishna Movement gave flowers and books to people in the streets and the airport.
Many people try to give the flowers and the books back, but once it was in their hands, they were obligated to give donations. The psychology of reciprocity empowered volunteers to persuade people in doing what they wanted to do.
Email communication, like all communication, is about influencing the mind.
If you’re a project manager and you lack team engagement with your email, take a cue from the Hare Krishna Movement.
All you need are a few clever psychology hacks that costs zilch.
Here are five psychological hacks to improve the efficiency of your email communication:
1. Always Communicate with Certainty
When there is a sense of certainty, the communication is taken more seriously. The Amplification Hypothesis states that when you express a particular attitude with certainty, the attitude hardens.
The attitude of knowing what you are talking about greatly influences perceptions of team members. This goes both ways: when you are giving instructions and when you are responding to a member’s query.
By highlighting project objectives in a clear manner, team members will understand the gravitas of each project. The same time, if you are able to clear team member’s doubts with confidence, there is more clarity as to what each member’s role is in the project.
Instead of saying: “I think we need to revamp our strategy. We are probably running behind our deadlines. I think we should do a meetup to see what we can do about this situation. Let me know if it’s ok with everyone.”
Say this: “We clearly need to revamp our strategy. We are running behind our deadlines. To get a detailed idea of the situation, let’s set up a face-to-face meeting. I am sure together, we can find a solution to this problem.”
2. Persuade With Power Words
Though email is one of the more popular business communication tools, 64% of professionals have cited email as a source of tension, confusion, and other negative consequences. Much of this chaos stems from poorly-worded emails.
Words have the power to inspire as well as destroy your email communication. It’s about knowing which word to use and when to use. There is a popular misconception that all words are equal, while that might be true, there are some words which are more equal than others. These are powerful words that can empower your email content copy, leading to rich team engagement.
Here are few of the “power words” that you should use in your email communication:
- You – This word allows the reader to indulge in one’s own self-perception. It makes your email copy more relevant since it pertains to that one particular individual.
- Because – It gives clarification on the purpose of the subject. Team members often find themselves confused as to what significance does a particular task entail. By clearly mentioning the reason to do a task, project managers are able to provide more clarity.
- Increased – Use this word if you want your email communication to stand out. It grabs the attention of the reader since it can be both extremely positive or negative, making it an overwhelming experience. Both: Increased sales and increased expenses can create anxiety.
3. Use Active Listening
To make your email communication more perceptive, use the power of active listening. For example, send emails offering help to members when they are going through a tough phase.
Ask them how you can help them and they will provide you with information that they otherwise would have withheld. When you make the effort of hearing team members out like this, you are essentially earning their trust and respect.
Listening and being empathetic provides more room to tackle conflicts without escalating it. Email communication can resolve conflicts much quicker since the aspect of physical presence doesn’t factor in.
By expressing your opinion at the start of your email thread, you are likely to generate defensiveness, anger, and frustration. Start your email by asking about their opinions–it helps you identify the differences and search for points of agreements to enable a win-win situation.
It’s only when you are in control of your own emotions are you able to gauge other’s feelings. By constantly encouraging emotionally intelligent conversations, you are able to forge Empathetic Blending.
It’s the combining of aura among people involved which is caused due to resonance. When one person shows empathy it rubs off onto other people and becomes a part of their personality.
This create a chain reaction which spreads empathy from everyone on the team to end users. Team members are prone to provide the same level of freedom and comfort to end users as they have.
This in turn helps marketers build meaningful relationships with end users that transcend into loyalty. Ultimately, empathy avoids both team attrition and customer churn.
4. The reverse psychology of getting work done
No! You can’t do it.
With a little condescending tone and you might be able to motivate your team members to get the task done. With the ambition of proving you wrong, they will have all the motivation they need to complete the task. That’s how reverse psychology can help you communicate messages that result in effective task completions.
This is applicable to people who are rebellious in nature. Applying this hack on gullible personalities might not lead to desirable results. When you try to tell people who are resistant, they can’t do something, you are inciting a sense of danger to their freedom. Due to which, they will react in a way that you originally desired.
However, make sure that your team does not find out they are being “tricked” into getting the work done. This will set off a reverse reverse psychology.
Keep the process subtle, so no member is able to identify the mental manipulation. Reverse psychology is a tricky one, but if you play your cards right, it can reap huge benefits.
5. Make your team feel special
If you noticed, throughout the article, there is not a single mention of the word “boss.”
It’s a word that shows one’s superiority and the other’s inferiority, that’s how you create insecurity and resentment among team members. For an effective team communication, your emails should make everyone feel special, it needs to show that you care.
When a client sends abusive emails, you need to back your team up. Show clients and team members that you weigh the dignity of your team above the client’s money. Such acts encourage team members to work harder and in the process get you higher returns than your biggest client can offer.
Use your professional email account to build personal relationships with team members. Send emails on topics that might be of personal interest to members. It’s small gestures like these that allow them to be free when communicating with you via email.
These psychological hacks don’t just help in improving the efficiency of your email communication, they increase the productivity of your team members as well. These mental tricks make your email communications more humanized, it encourages building trust and a strong bond.
Niraj Ranjan is the founder of Hiver, an app that turns Gmail into a powerful customer support and collaboration tool. When not working at Hiver on programming or customer support, Niraj likes to play guitar. Niraj can be reached on Twitter @nirajr.