We all find it hard to get others to ‘do our bidding’- an email, pestering conversations etc – but a neat experiment, recently written up in Harvard Business Review, shows that it might be as simple as a post-it note on a desk.

Randy Garner at Sam Houston State University, conducted some inventive research where we asked colleagues via interoffice mail to help him complete a survey. Here’s the cool thing – they were more likely to help if he attached a handwritten post-it note on the request.

Here’s a run down of the study:
Garner sent 3 different groups of 50 professors three different requests.
Group 1: a survey to complete with sticky note attached asking for the return of the completed survey
Group 2: a survey to complete with the same handwritten message on the cover letter instead of attached sticky note
Group 3: a survey to complete with a cover letter but no handwritten message.

The results:
Group 1: 76% return rate
Group 2: 48% return rate
Group 3: 36% return rate

A commenter on the paper, psychologist, Kevin Hogan has hypothesised that the increase was due to the sticky note’s handwritten message which ‘makes the request more personal than an anonymous and boring form….it makes it feels like a favour or a special request, which makes the recipient feel important’.