Wired Science presents an article on research by psychologists Daniele Marzoli and Luca Tommasi of the University G. d’Annunzio in Italy. In this study, done in dance clubs in Italy (Who says research can't be fun?), 172 subjects were approached by a researcher and asked for a cigarette. Out of the 88 people who were asked in their left ear, only 17 gave her a cigarette. Of the 88 people who were asked the same request in their right ear, 34 granted the request. In addition, researchers observed even more people interacting, noted similar requests, and observed the success or failure of the request. This large difference in the results led the psychologists to conclude that the result differences were due to which ear received the requests and not just chance.
When hypothesizing why the right ear yielded substantially more positive results it was noted,
Marzoli and Tommasi write that some work has shown that the left and right hemispheres of the brain appear to be tuned for positive and negative emotions, respectively. Talk into the right ear and you send your words into a slightly more amenable part of the brain."
The take-away from this is that those in positions where persuasion is paramount in getting a desired action (i.e., sales people, teachers, politicians, etc.), the right ear should be favored. In private conferences, put yourself to the right of the person with whom you are talking. On the salesfloor, stand to the customer's right. Teachers should put more difficult students on right side of the room and when they give individual feedback, talk in the student's right ear.
Granted that the results, before counted as fact, need to be reproduced and verified, but, it does give us something to think about and act on to see if it's true in our circumstances.