[The Language Lab makes it easy for you to put research to work for you and your mission. Each installment gives you research-backed intel on one specific way you can work happier, smarter, and more effectively. To stay in the know, sign up to get Language Lab missives delivered directly to your inbox.]
The One Thing You Need to Know: You will be more successful if you create trust with your donors/supporters/other important people in your life by avoiding jargon and using easy-to-understand language.
RELEASE THE DRUGS*
Look at this picture. Soak it in.
Look at those two. Cute, right? Want to know something neat? That mum’s brain is awash in a chemical called ‘oxytocin’. Mmmmmm….oxytocin. Frequently referred to as the Love Drug, oxytocin makes us feel happy, nice, and generous.
But here’s the really important thing about oxytocin as it relates specifically to doing more good in the world: oxytocin it’s not just the Love Drug, it’s the Moral Molecule.
You see, we get all those happy, snuggly, generous feelings when social bonding occurs. Super smartie Paul Zak’s coined the term, “The Moral Molecule”. He wrote a book by the same name. In it, he explains that social bonding occurs when you trust someone. The person on the receiving end of a trust-inducing gesture reciprocates trust and also pays it forward. And–voila–you have a generosity fueling trust-fest. See how that could be useful for you?!
- Use a wider variety of words: The Wordifier can help you with this.
- Increase your readability: Turn on the Readability statistics in Word or use a tool like this one.
- Avoid jargon: The Chronicle of Philanthropy just ran a super-duper article on jargon eradication. (Disclaimer: I’m quoted in this piece.)
There’s actually another cool thing to know about oxytocin and its (practically) magical ability to get people psyched about your work. Oxytocin explains why telling a story that focuses on one person in need, vs. lots o’ people in need, works so well. But I think we’ve covered enough for today. We’ll cover the Story of One research in the next Language Lab, okay?
Want a deeper dive?
Check out Paul Zak’s piece on what narrative exposure (yes, that’s an actual term) has to do with charitable giving.
*Technically, a drug is a foreign substance that you introduce into the body. So, if you make it yourself it isn’t a drug. It’s a chemical. But “Release the Chemicals” wasn’t as zippy. And hey, check you out. Reading the fine print. Way to go, word nerd!