Email communication, just like other communication is about influence. The difference with email is that it’s (typically) professional and the objective is to influence the recipient to do something. Here are 5 scientifically supported, psychological hacks to improve the efficiency of your emails;
If you want people to take your command more seriously, express it with absolute certainty. This is called the amplification hypothesis, whereby confident commands are more likely to influence others, so exchange “I think we should” to “clearly, we should”.
Power words are everything, they change the entire meaning of an email taking it from a bland easy-to-ignore communication, to an adrenaline-inducing command. Power words such as “you” instantly engage the readers ego. Other examples are “increased“, interestingly this word is overwhelming to readers because it has both negative and positive connotations, depending on how it’s used. Nonetheless, when a reader first reads this word, they become more alert, as their brain attempts to work out whether it’s good or bad.
Try and lead with an understanding of how someone might feel at any one time. Obviously don’t lie. For example, “I can imagine it’s a hectic time for you, so I hope that xxx will provide some value”, then explain how your objective, will benefit them. It’s important to not lead with your command. It can generate defensiveness or frustration and it could influence a busy recipient, to ignore you. If you can’t authentically, empathise with your receipient start your correspondence by asking their opinion on a certain task for example, “do you agree this is the best process? this encourages real human interaction.
This is best used for those who are rebellious in nature and is not suitable for the more gullible. This method seeks to motivate, stubborn people, using their ego. If you tell someone they can’t do it, often with the ambition of proving you wrong, they will have all the motivation they need to complete the task. Different factors influence different people, the key is to have a good understanding of your recipient at all times.
I don’t just mean use the recipients first name, or refer to a recent conversion you had about their cat. Send them valuable information that could really help them. For example, if they have opened up to you about the difficulties of finding a work-life-balance, with young children, send them an article which discusses this issue. It’s small gestures like these that allow people to be more open and honest with you, when communicating with via email.
Leila is PCA’s Head Editor and Researcher. She holds a 1st class Law with Business degree and became a published author at 25. Former crime investigator turned business journalist. On a mission to show businesses that presenteeism is a thing of the past. Everything seems impossible until it’s done. Typically found working from a white beach in South-East Asia embracing rapidly changing technology.