Rule of Thumb #3: Build a Behavioral Team in Touch with Their Feelings

Our waitress pleasantly asked, “Would you like small or vacation sized cocktail?”

These were potent words that nudged my wife and I to select 16oz versus 12oz drinks just the other day. We’ve been in the Caymans on vacation, on a “Cay-vay-tion”.

More than thirty years ago, I principally thought like a traditional engineer. 12oz is 1.5 cups. 16 oz is 2 cups.

Then I magically met my wife and started a journey of getting in touch with my feelings. I started to learn about how soft skills and words matter. Sometimes its about cognition and comprehesion of an audience. Other times its about conveying feelings, connections, and story arc.

Returning to lessons from our waitress, the framing of vacation versus small sized is brilliant. One lever with respect to nudge design is being aware of the power of affect. Affect is essentially about immediate feelings that a person experiences (e.g., good or bad), such as based on a nudge. For nudge design, especially be aware of:

  1. Reference points (e.g., small versus large)
  2. Mental associations (e.g., widespread notions like happiness or other mental associations and metaphors taught in marketing and brand management, such transformation or scarcity/exclusivity)
  3. Social (e.g., framing connections to others or others as reference points)
  4. Just-in-time (e.g., proximity at the point of decision)

Our waitress hit the nail on the head with a number of these points. So long as she nudges for good, she’ll likely be a winner.

The bottom line is to go beyond where I was as a “traditional engineer”. Consider affect as part of nudge design. Furthermore, build a team with members that are acutely aware of psychology, mental associations, customer experience, and design.