The power of thinking you have control

Walk in to an elevator, press the button for the floor you want to go to, and nothing happens. What do you do next?

If you’re like most people, you press the door close button. Sometimes it works but with a delay, sometimes it closes right away, and sometimes you have to hit it twice to do its job.

Think about this: did the button actually do anything? Or did it simply give you the impression of having some control in the situation?

The trend toward large open offices (which is proving to be a huge detriment to getting work done and even hiring good people), has resulted in a problem: temperature sensitivity. People are either too hot or too cold. The solution? Many of the larger open offices in the country claim “zonal temperature control” via thermostats placed randomly throughout the open space, and employees are encouraged to adjust the temperature as needed.

The secret? They are often not connected to the HVAC system. It’s not about being able to change the temperature. It’s about believing you have control. As soon as these placebo thermostats were installed, complaints dropped to near zero.

Control is a loaded term, and it can be a positive or a negative. But used carefully it can be a powerful force.

As a wine sales rep, by dividing the 20 case deal into “three drops that you can order as you want over the next 60 days, with the free goods kicking in at the end” gives the control to the buyer and increases the possibility of making the sale.

As a sommelier, bringing the ice bucket out automatically for the bottle of white wine gives the customer the power of controlling the temperature, a critical part of wine enjoyment.

As a retailer, having a “Mix any three wines for $30” section to highlight some cool items encourages more sales than just marking down the products, for you are giving choice control to the customer (which they of course had already, but not in an obvious way) plus will move more product (three bottles instead of one or two).

Focus on the power of control and analyze this power within your work day. If you can give the sense of power to somebody else, your value just went up in their eyes.

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