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How Comfy is Your Chair?

Placing your order at L.A.’s Sushi Sasabune doesn’t mean you’ll end up with a meal.
by Caitlin Schiller | Oct 9 2014

In fact, depending on what you choose, you could find yourself down a few bucks for beverages and out on the curb. At Sushi Sasabune, the waitstaff regularly throw out diners who make the “wrong” selection. And yet, people keep coming back for more mealtime roulette because they’re titillated. They’re intrigued. They’re fascinated – and that’s what makes the sale.

In her book Fascinate, Sally Hogshead identifies the seven triggers of captivation, one of which is power. Power, of course, comes in many different flavours – miso soup, included. There’s the dictatorial sort of power which rarely leads to anything but bloodbaths and strife, and the kind of power that parents use when they forbid their kids weekend car privileges. But power can be used in much subtler ways that translate well to the workplace.

Even if you’re a Toastmasters-level public speaker, you’ve probably noticed your listeners’ attention ebbing during a presentation. Next time you’re meeting coworkers or clients, do a little pre-event preparation to change their behaviour. Seek out a space with comfortable chairs and eliminate distracting noise. Before you know it, bam: you’re using environmental manipulation and exerting a type of power that goes largely under the radar – which is exactly why it’s so effective. Creating a comfortable space that allows people to focus and listen instead of searching for a new position or getting hung up on outside noise makes it easier for you to remain the center of attention.

More and more businesses are catching on to the power of environmental manipulation, and sometimes in novel ways. In recent years, scent marketing has risen in popularity. Scent is an extremely powerful trigger and can cause customers to tarry a bit longer in a shop’s halls, evoke positive emotions, and inspire return visits. Helm Bank, for example, underwent a sensory rebrand including a scent defined by chocolate, oak moss, and peppermint notes. Branches that adopted the full sensory re-brand package (which also meant an adjustment to the logo, colours, and sound) doubled their revenue and the number of new account openings. Customer satisfaction also went from 20 to 99 percent.

Using power in your business doesn’t have to come to intimidation and threats: it can be as simple as a comfier chair or a strategically placed air freshener. Are there any subtle environmental adjustments that you’re missing out on? To learn more about this, check out more key insights from Sally Hogshead’s Fascinate here.

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