How do you effectively overcome cognitive dissonance

6 simple communication concepts that immediately improve the exchange

Communication is a bit like those old Atari games. Easy to learn but difficult to master.

For our support team here at Userlike, good communication is part of the job. In our training courses - both for our own support staff and our customers - we rely on some effective communication concepts that have proven useful in many areas.

Get the most out of your communication in live chat, email, or social media using the following six communication concepts.

The iceberg model

You may have come across Albert Mehrabian's concept of non-verbal communication at school. His research shows that 90% of communication is guided by how You say something (with gestures, facial expressions and voice) and not really about it What They say.

This 1981 model is still up to date - but it doesn't help us thinking about written communication that largely lacks visual and acoustic elements.

If you want to know how Mehrabian's communication model can be transferred to the written context, Ernest Hemingway, of all people, will help us with an ingenious concept: the iceberg model.

Hemingway knew that words were just the tip of the iceberg - underneath are senses, thoughts, feelings, and subconscious thought patterns. Just as your voice and body greatly affect oral communication, your writing style plays a big role in how your message is received.

The original iceberg model was transferred to many different communication scenarios. For example, it can also be used on support channels such as email, live chat and social media.

A 2015 Forrester study showed that the most important aspect of customer service, rather than the actual message of a message, is the emotional response it creates. Training your team to use positive expression has the potential to significantly increase customer satisfaction.

The negativity effect

How many times has you offended by a colleague's email? Or did you feel ignored because your WhatsApp message was still not answered after three days? Even if the broadcaster didn't mean to hurt you, it is likely that you are interpreting the situation negatively.

These situations are examples of the negativity effect. John Cacioppo, a professor at Ohio University, found that negative news has a stronger impact on the brain than positive news. As social beings, we are extremely focused on communication dynamics. If the message is ambiguous, we tend to interpret it negatively because of the negativity effect.

In this video, Leah from our marketing team shares some valuable tips on how to undo the negativity effect in customer service (and in private communication).

To prevent your message from falling victim to the negativity effect of the recipient, make sure it doesn't sound negative to the reader's ears. Read through your message again before sending it - does it sound clearly positive or is there room for misinterpretation?

A Salesforce study found that 54% of customers don't believe companies have their best interests in mind. Therefore, whenever you communicate with customers, keep in mind that the negativity effect might be at work.

Processing Fluency

Processing fluid describes how easy or difficult it is to cognitively process or receive a message.

Compare these examples:

“This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are OK in and of themselves. But many together become monotonous. Listen to what's happening here. The text is getting boring. The sound booms in your ear. Like a record with a crack. The ear needs a little variety. "

"Listen again. I change the length of the sentences and create music. Music. The text sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a vibration, a harmony."

This is a prime example of the effect rhythm has on cognitive processing. We took this passage from Gary Provosts Make Every Word Count borrowed (and freely translated); a Bible for the art of writing.

But rhythm is by no means the only factor for the processing fluid. Depending on the medium through which you communicate (e.g. article, e-mail, chat), you have various options for improving the processing fluid:

  • Message structure
  • Technical structure (headings, paragraphs, punctuation, lists, keywords, quotations, clear font)
  • Visualizations (graphics, images, videos)
  • Repetitions

Princeton University's Daniel Oppenheimer has something amazing to say about the influence of processing fluid on the assessment of a text:

"People think fluent statements are truer, more likely, more frequent, known, part of more sophisticated categories, and come from a more intelligent source than non-fluid statements."

Let's take a look at three popular techniques you can use to structure your messages:

What - why - what now. This technique is mainly used in sales situations to convince potential customers. But it also works well in the context of effective team communication via email or chat.

What: Summarize the idea or question precisely.
Why: Explain why the recipient is interested in the problem.
What now: Give the recipient a specific way to get to their desired next step.

Problem - solution - advantage. This communication technology is suitable for both convincing presentations and customer service.

Problem: Start by describing the problem - the point of frustration.
Solution: Present your solution to the problem in detail.
Advantage: The "benefit" is how much the person benefits from the "solution". A good solution gives something back to the viewer or the recipient.

Function - advantage - benefit. This simple sales technique builds your team members' confidence in their sales skills.

Because it can do the following ... FUNCTION (Product features)
Will you be able to ... ADVANTAGE (Use case)
For you that means ... BENEFIT (e.g. save money, save time)

Expert tip for live chat. In live chat, an easy way to maintain structure and improve processing fluidity is to split the content to be conveyed into many short messages.

* Enter *
This increases the processing fluid.
* Enter *
Which - as we have learned - simply makes you appear smarter. ;)

The 7 Cs of communication

The 7 Cs of Communication were first mentioned in 1952 in the book Effective public relations Presented by Scott M. Cutlip and Allen H. Center, both pioneers in public relations.

It may well be the most cited list when it comes to effective communication. Even if it is an ancient concept in Internet years, it has not lost its validity for bloggers, YouTubers and online support staff.

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Today you can find numerous modified versions of the 7 Cs online, in which further Cs have been added. Here is the original list:

  • Clear. A clear message has a specific main objective and razor-sharp focus. Keep it simple and avoid putting too many ideas in the text - be it in an email, paragraph, or sentence.
  • Concise (Eng. Concise). Try to responsibly use the reader's time by limiting yourself to the essentials. Avoid repetition and unnecessary filler words like “definitely”, “somehow”, “literally”, “basically” or “I mean ...”.
  • Concrete. If your message is specific, their audience will immediately understand what you are saying. To be specific, you can work with examples, facts, statistics, and details.
  • Correct. It goes without saying that a message should be grammatically correct. A common mistake, however, is the incorrect spelling of names or technical terms. In terms of content, this C means that examples and study results are thoroughly researched and placed in the right context.
  • Coherent (German coherent). Consistent means that all points are relevant and related to the main objective. In addition, the writing style should be consistent throughout the text.
  • Complete. Every message has a goal. Provide your audience with relevant information and provide additional information to answer potential follow-up questions.
  • Courteous (German: polite). With a polite message you show the recipient your respect. She is friendly, empathetic and open-minded. There are no hidden undertones or passive-aggressive swipes.

Theory of Expectancy Violation

Have you ever thought about norms in social networks? In fact, even on such an unregulated platform as Facebook, there are unspoken behavioral expectations. Think of the would-be marketer who posts 10 times a day or the friend who pours his heart out all over the Facebook page.

Facebook users tolerate a certain amount of status updates and revealed emotions; anything beyond that is a negative breach of expectations.

These occur in a wide variety of human interactions and are divided into two forms:

  • A negative violation of expectations reduces the attractiveness of the station.
  • A positive breach of expectations increases the attractiveness of the station.

An “injury” in this context can either be negative or positive. If the chef in your favorite restaurant sends you a birthday cake home, that is a positive breach of expectations. Or it's a negative if you don't know how the chef got your private address.

Applied to customer service, this communication concept means that your customers approach your team with certain expectations. This applies to speed, responsiveness, friendliness and many other principles in customer service.

Your service team should be focused on meeting customer expectations. That is why our live chat solution offers a whole range of functions for greater satisfaction, such as customizable message templates that help you to offer a solution quickly and easily.

Cognitive dissonance

If you've ever tried to cut something out of your diet that you love, it surely touched you on an emotional level. Cognitive dissonance is an emotional state that shows up when we struggle with two different belief systems. To stick with the example of nutrition:

"Chocolate makes me happy." < > "Chocolate is not healthy for me."

If you decide to grab the box of chocolates anyway, you will free yourself internally from the cognitive dissonance:

"I really need a serotonin boost."
"I was already doing sports today."
"Still better than a greasy burger."

In order to keep your peace of mind, you will not find any justification too good.

Whenever you communicate with people, it is helpful to keep the communication principle of cognitive dissonance in mind. It will make many of the reactions of your interlocutor understandable. Perhaps it will even explain why the other person rejects your ideas even though they would change their life for the better.

In this case, management consultant Paul Morin emphasizes how important it is to know the weak points in the other's belief system. This is his strategy for overcoming cognitive dissonance:

  1. Understand the individual dissonance. Understand the real risk the person is exposed to by holding onto the belief system.
  2. Reinforce cognitive dissonance. Ask a series of innocuous questions that will open the person to the possibility that their belief system is flawed.
  3. Resolve the cognitive dissonance. Make the other person aware that the likelihood that they will gain benefit is much greater than that they will face the potential risk. In a sales context, for example, you could offer a risk-free trial or a money-back guarantee to make the change easier.

Overcoming cognitive dissonance may not always be easy, but it is possible.

The communication concepts chosen in this post will increase the impact of your message. Your target audience is more likely to accept your message if you present it in a compelling, clear format.