The Soft Skills for Hard Core Technical Professionals blog is maintained by Profitable Growth Partners, LLC. It provides a venue for the exchange of ideas on the topic of skill-sets that are required for today's technical professional.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Words That Work

“Communication” is one of the central themes in both our Profitable Growth Partners Boot Camp for Managers™ program and our Soft Skills for Hard Core Technical Professionals™ series. Recently I was reading an excellent book (there are many) on the subject. Words That Work, by Dr. Frank Luntz provides an insightful look into the way we use words. The book contains excellent stories about how changing the words we use can re-frame an entire conversation, and he also provides practical tips on how to use the right words to make your point clearly and effectively.

Dr. Luntz also provides the “10 rules of successful communication:”

1. Simplicity: Use small words. Avoid words that might force someone to reach for the dictionary, because most Americans won’t.

2. Brevity: Use short sentences. Be brief as possible. Never us a sentence when a phrase will do.

3. Credibility Is as Important as Philosophy. People have to believe it to buy it. If your words lack sincerity or if they contradict accepted facts, circumstances or perceptions, they will lack impact.

4. Consistency Matters. Repetition. Repetition. Repetition.

5. Novelty: Offer something new. Words that work often involve a new definition of an old idea.

6. Sound and Texture Matter. A string of words that have the same first letter, the same sound or the same syllabic cadence is more memorable than a random collection of sounds.

7. Speak Aspirationally. The key to successful aspirational language is to personalize and humanize the message to trigger an emotional remembrance.

8. Visualize. Paint a vivid picture.

9. Ask a Question. A statement put in the form of a rhetorical question can have much greater impact than a plain assertion.

10. Provide Context and Explain Relevance. You have to give people the “why” of a message before you tell them the “therefore” and the “so what.”

Often the book comes from the advertising or political perspective, but there are great insights for all of us who have to communication, and persuade, and inspire.

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