Sticky Notes Could Get You More Attention On The Job

News & Views | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 06/03/2015 | 12:45 PM EDT

Harvard Business Review says Post-It invention is 'surprisingly persuasive'

If you want to get someone’s attention, particularly when it comes to business, you may want to use the old-fashioned sticky note.

Turns out the Post-It invention does the world of good when it comes to getting the results you want. The Harvard Business Review points out that a study exploring the effectiveness of sticky notes found that they are “surprisingly persuasive.”

There are two main reasons why: (1) it adds a personal touch, and (2) makes someone feel like you’re asking a favor of them, which can bring about “impressive results when done in tandem.”


This discovery came out through an experiment attempting to get college professors to comply with surveys, which are often lengthy and tedious. Researcher Randy Garner sent surveys to three separate groups; one with a handwritten sticky note; one with the same message but handwritten on a cover letter; and the other without any note.

Seventy-six percent of the group of professors who were given sticky notes responded to the survey, while the non-sticky note requested group and handwritten cover letter requested group responded with 36 percent and 48 percent, respectively. The study also determined that those who received a personalized sticky note were likely to respond more swiftly.

HBR says that writing on sticky notes represents many powerful behavioral triggers because it’s hard to ignore, takes up space, it’s personalized, and ultimately represents one person communicating another important person. The person sending the sticky note sends off the message that they’re asking a favor or special request, which makes the recipient feel important.

“The real magic, it seems, is not the sticky note itself, but the sense of connection, meaning, and identity that the sticky note represents. The person sending the survey is personally asking me in a special way (not just writing it on the survey) to help him or her out,” says HBR.

We don’t know about you, but we’re going to grab the nearest pack of Post-Its.

(Photo: Oliver Eltinger/Corbis)

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