Magic words What to say to get your way

Jonah Berger

Book - 2023

"A book about how to use words in a way that is most persuasive"--

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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor New Shelf 153.852/Berger (NEW SHELF) Due Oct 21, 2023
New York : Harper Business, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers [2023]
First edition
Physical Description
viii, 245 pages : illustrations, charts ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 227-234) and index.
Main Author
Jonah Berger (author)
  • Introduction
  • Active identity and agency
  • Convey confidence
  • Ask the right questions
  • Leverage concreteness
  • Employ emotion
  • Harness similarity (and difference)
  • What language reveals
  • Epilogue
  • Appendix: Reference guide for using and applying natural language processing.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Want to get ahead in business? Consult a dictionary. By Wharton School professor Berger's account, much of the art of persuasion lies in the art of choosing the right word. Want to jump ahead of others waiting in line to use a photocopy machine, even if they're grizzled New Yorkers? Throw a because into the equation ("Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I'm in a rush?"), and you're likely to get your way. Want someone to do your copying for you? Then change your verbs to nouns: not "Can you help me?" but "Can you be a helper?" As Berger notes, there's a subtle psychological shift at play when a person becomes not a mere instrument in helping but instead acquires an identity as a helper. It's the little things, one supposes, and the author offers some interesting strategies that eager readers will want to try out. Instead of alienating a listener with the omniscient should, as in "You should do this," try could instead: "Well, you could…" induces all concerned "to recognize that there might be other possibilities." Berger's counsel that one should use abstractions contradicts his admonition to use concrete language, and it doesn't help matters to say that each is appropriate to a particular situation, while grammarians will wince at his suggestion that a nerve-calming exercise to "try talking to yourself in the third person ('You can do it!')" in fact invokes the second person. Still, there are plenty of useful insights, particularly for students of advertising and public speaking. It's intriguing to note that appeals to God are less effective in securing a loan than a simple affirmative such as "I pay all bills…on time"), and it's helpful to keep in mind that "the right words used at the right time can have immense power." Perhaps not magic but appealing nonetheless. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.