An old friend of mine from College recently admitted something rather strange. He refused to wash his hands after going to the bathroom. It wasn’t until he turned thirty that hygiene got the better of him. I know what you’re thinking. Gross, right? That’s not the story though. What he did instead of washing his hands is the real kicker.
Once he finished doing his thing in the bathroom he’d leave without washing. That was his routine when he was alone. When other people were in the house he’d do something really weird. He would turn on the water and let it run for about twenty seconds. He did this because he feared what others would think if he left the bathroom without washing first. We don’t really pay attention to ensure that people meet their hand washing responsibilities. We do notice things out of the ordinary. A toilet flush followed by the door opening raises the question:
“Hmmm. Did he wash his hands?”
Running the water for a few seconds gave the illusion he washed.
What’s the meaning of all this?
It comes down to one thing. We behave different when we know (or think) people are watching us.
They Think I’m Watching Them
As a persuader this is something we need to keep in mind. Our prospects behave differently when they know or think someone is watching. Historically, in persuasive writing it hasn’t been much of a concern. Prospects and customers would read your piece in the privacy of their home or office. Nobody felt like they were being watched.
Things change. Times change. Technology changes. Today, tracking tools allow us to secretly “watch” what our prospects do with our emails and visits to our websites. Remember that old “return receipt” tool on outlook where you get a notice saying:
“The sender has requested a return receipt.”
That little message often motivated us to respond. It got us thinking:
“Shoot. Now he knows I saw this. I need to do something about it.”
Today other tools are at our disposal. Plus, there’s the invasion of privacy fear factor. It permeates our society. Even if you refrain from tracking customer behavior they still may think you’re watching them. That feeling may impact how they react to your writing.
How Do We Take Advantage Of This?
Ask yourself this simple question as part of your post writing checklist.
How will he react to this if he thinks I’m tracking his behavior?
How will she react to this if she thinks I’m not tracking her behavior?
When a personal relationship exists between you and the recipient the effect is stronger. It’s also strong when the recipient admires you or see’s you as an authority figure.
We can laugh at my friends routine of letting the water run so people would think he washed his hands. The truth is we all change behavior when we know others are watching us.