Incentives and rewards influence behavior.

Recognition influences behavior.

Simply paying attention influences behavior (ask Elton Mayo and Fritz Roethlisberger after their studies at the Hawthorne plant in the 1920s).

What you say influences behavior.

HOW you say things also has a profound effect.

Rational vs. Emotional

If you’ve read the book Switch you’re aware that changing behavior is hard and is a function of not only my rational decision to change but also whether I can connect emotionally to the possible change. In the book they talk of the “Rider” and the “Elephant” – the rider being rational and the elephant being emotional. When a decision to change is contemplated the elephant has much more power than the rider and therefore influences behavior to a greater degree.

That is a more interesting way to say that emotion rules and rational drools.

If you want people to change – to adopt new ideas and new behaviors – you must appeal to the emotional side of their decision making.

And how you position change verbally can make a huge difference. The pen IS mightier than the sword.

Emotional Words vs. Intellectual Words

The other day I got an email from my “Pinterest” account. It showed a pin to a post about words and whether they are “emotional” words  or “intellectual” words. I thought it was a great way to illustrate how using emotions in your communication can have a big effect on whether your audience will process something rationally or emotionally. And we want them to be a bit more emotional.

Some of the comparisons include:

  • Accolade vs Applaud – that really resonated with me. One is very sterile versus the other – you can almost hear the clapping.
  • Avid vs. Eager – I wonder how many average readers even run into the word “avid” on a regular basis
  • Damage vs. Hurt – one is very personal. Guess which one.

Below is a listing of different intellectual words and their emotional counterpart. Before you craft that next email or document designed to influence go through the list and make some word changes and be more persuasive.

Don’t try to show off your mad word skills – try to get people to take action!

Here’s the list of words from an image on the original post: