One of the environmental factors that influences our behavior and our performance is orderliness. Most of us agree that it is more pleasant to work in an organized, neat room. An organized workspace also saves time since it is easier to find things. But what you may not know is that orderliness is also related to our self-regulation and self-control.

Studies have found that sitting in a disorganized room increases the tendency to yield to temptation. People who sat in a disorganized room were more impulsive and were willing to spend more money on various items, some of them quite expensive, such as a high-end speaker or a ski vacation.

Other studies show that compared to those who sat in a disorganized room, people who sat in an organized room made healthier food choices — for example, an apple, rather than the less healthy, but probably more tempting, chocolate cake. People who sat in a neat room were found to donate considerably more than those who sat in an untidy room. In other words, they were more willing to do the right thing.

A disorganized room also influences our performance at work, in both negative and positive ways. People who sat in a disorganized room performed worse on a task that demanded attention. However, disorder is not always a disadvantage.

An interesting study found that disorder inspired unconventional and creative behavior. It seems that when you sit in a disorganized room, your thoughts wander; you don’t think only of the obvious conventions. This will decrease your performance on analytical and detailed tasks that require focus but might increase the possibility that you will think of a new, creative idea.

Another factor that influences self-regulation is the intensity of light. Studies show that people yield more often to temptations in a dim room.

Strategies that can help convince customers

Beyond your performance on independent tasks, you might be surprised to learn how order and disorder impact your success with customers. There are several methods to help you convince a customer to buy your product. Various websites and consultants give you advice such as to be natural, to be nice to the client, to describe the product in a positive way, and many more. I want to focus on the lesser known but effective techniques to convince customers:

Disorder inspires splurging. Studies found that a disorganized environment and a relatively dim room might decrease our self-control and lead us more often to yield to temptation. So, when you want a customer to yield to temptation, and spend more money on something that is tempting but expensive, try to do it in a more dimly lit room. If possible, try to do it in a relatively disorganized room, as well.

Order encourages sensible purchases. On the other hand, sometimes you want the customer to buy the more practical and efficient product, or you want the customer to do the right thing and help others — for example, buy directly from farmers who suffered an economic crisis from the pandemic situation, or buy from companies that are now in financial difficulties. If this is the case, turn on the light and organize the shelves. Studies found that people behaved more morally in a well-lit room and adhered more to social conventions in a well-organized room.

Turn up the temperature. The temperature also plays an important role in customers’ buying decisions. A warmer temperature increases the need to belong, connect, and be agreeable. Studies found that people in a warmer room were more willing to conform to the opinions of others, as opposed to people in a colder room.

Warmer temperatures also increase the value people assign to various products. In one experiment, participants sat in two rooms, one was a bit cold (64 F) and one was a bit warm (79 F). They were presented with photos of familiar products, such as a cup of coffee and bodywash, and asked how much they were willing to pay for each. Those who sat in a warmer room were willing to pay more than those who sat in the colder room. In other words, a moderately warmer temperature may lead to more purchases.

Salesperson behavior

The art of mimicry. The way a salesperson behaves — with a smile, patience, and courtesy — can certainly influence buying decisions. But there is a much subtler technique that can help: mimicking the nonverbal and verbal behavior of the customer. Mimicking can take the form of mirroring — for example, making the same gestures, such as touching your hair or your face.

The salesperson can also repeat a certain word or a sentence that the customer said. Studies conducted both in the laboratories and in actual stores found that people who were mimicked by the salesperson bought more often the product offered to them. However, this mimicry should be subtle and definitely not exaggerated.

The power of a clean, crisp white shirt. A salesperson should always wear clean and tidy clothes. Not only it is nicer to interact with a tidy person, but people unconsciously associate dirt with immorality; there is more of a tendency to believe a person who is neat and whose clothes are ironed is a moral person. I also recommend including a white item in your clothing, since white is also associated with morality and positive characteristics.

Practice good email etiquette. Be careful with the emails you send to customers. Sometimes, ambiguous messages can be misinterpreted, while the sender remains unaware. For example, people don’t always distinguish between funny and sarcastic email messages and might interpret something meant to be amusing in the wrong way.

So, make sure to carefully read your emails before sending them, and that the emotion or the humor you want to convey is clear. If you don’t get an answer or get an answer you did not expect, try to find out if your email was misinterpreted.