PRIMING PEOPLE IN EMAILS
You can prime people for the reaction you want with priming emails . This is a huge advantage ( and potential pitfall ) of technology people often forget . Emails allow us to prime people before they take action . I have begun to use this with my interns , employees and colleagues before meetings , phone calls or interviews .
How do you want someone to feel , act or behave ? Prime them for it .
Below are two emails . Every week I have a weekly check-in call with the team and we are often pressed for time and have a ton of agenda – getting off topic constantly happens !
The first is an email I used to send out before our weekly check-in call . The second is the email I send out now before my calls with priming language .
BAD PRIMING EMAIL : Hi All ,
As usual we have the weekly call tomorrow , Tuesday . Again , we are a little stressed for time and might have some trouble getting through the tasks on the agenda . I need everyone to please tighten up their points and avoid asking slow or lengthy questions on the call — you can send them out in an email later if you need . I attached the agenda .
GOOD PRIMING EMAIL : Hi Team ,
Tomorrow is our weekly goals call . I ’ m hoping we can be really efficient because we do have a lot to discuss . If everyone can take a look at their points and prepare a well-organized overview that would be great , because then we will have plenty of time for succinct questions , if people have them . Remember you can also easily send them in an email after the call . I attached our agenda .
Best , V
The emails both say the same thing , but when I started to change the emails for more positive priming I found that people were more efficient and excited for the call . It also started a chain of nice follow-up emails . My responses to the first email usually followed my same pattern of using negative , stressful words and phrases . Amazingly , the second email produces kind , efficient language .
USE PRIMING TO SET PEOPLE UP FOR SUCCESS
Priming can be used maliciously or to be manipulative . It is very important that we use it to set people up for success . Here ’ s how to use priming for good :
• Use positive priming words like efficient , together , helpful , goal , wellorganized and team .
• Avoid negative priming words like stress , pressure , tighten , rush , and tasks .
In fact , I am now teaching this in my training with my employees and am very transparent about using it . Many of them very much appreciate this effort and use it themselves ! I also find their priming emails easier to respond to , less stressful and more organized . Another benefit is that even writing this way yourself , helps you feel less stressed because you are not using those words .
I encourage you to try priming not just in emails , but also in :
• Social network updates
You can also do this when you journal or brainstorm . I find if you journal or self-reflect using words of emotions and actions you want to create ; you have a much more successful follow-up .
Priming is an interesting way of approaching your own attitude and other ’ s . I highly recommend practicing with friends and family members and being transparent about your wanting to produce positive effects in the people you are interacting with .
Remember , always use priming psychology for good and not evil ! +
Vanessa Van Edwards is lead investigator at the Science of People — a human behavior research lab . She is the national best-selling author of Captivate : The Science of Succeeding With People , which was chosen as one of Apple ’ s Most Anticipated Books of 2017 . She writes a monthly column on the science of success for Entrepreneur Magazine and the Huffington Post . Her original research has been featured in Fast Company , Cosmopolitan , TIME , Forbes , INC and USA Today . As a human behavior hacker she runs original research experiments on topics such as the science of leadership , human lie detection , body language hacks , the psychology of attraction and successful people skills at ScienceofPeople . com . Vanessa has been asked to discuss her innovative work on CNN , CBS Morning news and NPR . She has also consulted for a number of Fortune 500 companies including Dove , Symantec and American Express .
ScienceOfPeople . com
VANESSA VAN EDWARDS