The Persuasive Power of “Post-It” Sticky Note

Your persuasive power resides in one of your office supplies.

Persuasive Power

At some point in our lives, we desperately need a hand to accomplish something. So we request people to help us. But the process is not easy. Making a request is sometimes scary. This is because we don’t want to be rejected.

But the good news is, there’s something that can help you succeed. You can successfully persuade others and make them respond to your request positively. How?

If you are working in an office, you probably have several office supplies such as pens, paperclips, folders, sticky notes, etc. You use these stuff to organize things or send a letter of request.

Do you know that you can be more persuasive using one of these little things? But which one?

This question sparked the interest of a social scientist, Randy Garner. Determined to answer the question, Garner conducted a study. He sent survey questionnaires to participants.

There were four types of questionnaires.

  1. The questionnaires with Post-it note requesting the participants to respond the survey
  2. No sticky note questionnaires
  3. The request was written on the cover sheet of the questionnaire without sticky note
  4. Questionnaires with blank sticky note

The result was surprising. Garner found that more than 75% of the participants who received the questionnaires with a sticky note with a message on it filled out the questionnaires and returned them.

In addition, the questionnaires with sticky notes (which the handwritten request was written) returned more promptly.

While people who received the questionnaires without sticky note or blank sticky note responded less.

One important question emerged: What makes people responded more to questionnaires with request written on a sticky note? Did the color of the Post-it notes has the persuasive power?

Garner explained that the color of the sticky note had nothing to do with the participants’ response. What made the sticky note powerful was simply the written request on it.

Garner believed that the principle of reciprocity done its best. People who had seen the handwritten request on the sticky note felt obliged to return the favor. Why? Because the message was personalized. As a result, participants might have considered the extra effort of the sender.

One of the powerful tools of persuasion is reciprocity. When you give someone a favor, he will feel the obligation to reciprocate. That is, giving back the favor.

Favor, however, does not always mean physical act. In the study of Garner, the participants responded and returned the questionnaires not because they received a favor from the researcher. Remember that Garner did not give anything except a piece of paper, a sticky note, and a handwritten request.

Reciprocity is a “social binder”. It connects people regardless of social demographics. In it, people care one another.

Furthermore, the extra effort seen on the handwritten request helped boost the significance of the request. It is likely that the participants thought that the request was important so they responded it favorably and promptly.

The finding has several daily life implications. Effort and creativity determine the success of any request. And most importantly, your persuasive power comes from small things you probably indifferent of – a sticky note.

You can use this technique in broader transactions. When you send a request letter (whatever it may contain) to someone, don’t forget to put a sticky note on it. Write a personalized message that reflects your gratitude.

It may also be important that you elaborate the purpose and importance of your request. Although the sticky note can be helpful, your persuasive power might depend on your creativity. So make your message captivating.

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