Dr. Carmen Simon

Blog 2

Every time I go to the post office, I commit three sins as soon as I step in: I grab the wrong box, I use the wrong forms, and I have no tape. I’ve been determined to break this bad post-office karma, so today I was extra vigilant: I paid attention to the box, I paid attention to the form, and I even bought the tape from that office. When my turn came, I handed the person my box, form, and tape with an extra sense of pride. She gave me a stern look, didn’t accept any of them, and said scornfully, “You have to tape your own box. Step aside, fix it, then get back in line.” I felt like a second-grader who brought the wrong homework again.

It would have taken that person 6 seconds to tape my light box on each side. She opted for the lecture instead. And next time I will opt for their competition, which is just a 6-second walk around the corner. For her to keep me as a customer, all I needed to hear as she looked at my untaped box was, “Let me do that for you.”

Think about the impact of this phrase on your own psyche.
“Hate cleaning? Let me do that for you.”
“Don’t want to do your own taxes? Let me do that for you.”
“Don’t want to drive? Let me do that for you.”

I am sure you can think of many businesses who made the promises above to their customers, kept their word, and are now making a lot of money.

In my role as a cognitive psychologist, I constantly analyze what captures people’s attention and gets them to act. A technique that works well every single time, in any form of communication (email, blogs, meetings, presentations), is the concept of personal significance. This construct has been scientifically shown to have strong ROA (Return on Attention) and to impact behavior change in a positive way.

Research reveals that behavior change as a result of personal significance is possible because doing relevant things for others creates a strong sense of reciprocity. This helps if you are working in a highly competitive space and your customers have choices. Humans tend to seek those who help out – not those who tell you to step aside and do your own thing. Cooperative behavior improves our chances of survival and evolution.

Next time you interact with others, use the phrase “Let me do that for you” – especially when it is something they don’t enjoy doing, it is easy for you to do, and it does not throw you off your own track. Your offer can be something as small as filling out forms or taking the trash out, or as big as finishing a work project for someone. Use this phrase and enjoy the rewards of cooperative behavior.

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