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Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear Paperback – August 5, 2008
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About the Author
- ASIN : 1401309291
- Publisher : Hachette Books; Revised edition (August 5, 2008)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781401309299
- ISBN-13 : 978-1401309299
- Reading age : 18 years and up
- Item Weight : 11.1 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.35 x 1.25 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #52,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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lt will raise your awareness on the need to calculate which words to use and how to convey them.
Also, l found it reads easily for the most part.
This book should be a textbook used in a course offered in any communications curriculum.
If is important to read these books not because you want to persuade and influence others; it is important to read Luntz's Words that Work, and other books like Lakoff's if you want to know and understand the ways in which others may be trying to persuade *you*.
The greatest disservice to the general public has been denying it an education in rhetoric, without which we are far more susceptible to its abuses, and unable to responsibly use it to aid us and our communities.
Read Words that Work and see what sort of rhetorical appeals are made of you, and how you can better command and lead your own fortunes, and choose the influences to want to listen to, or not.
Good message. Luntz is clearly someone who follows his own advice. And, if his subliminal message to the attendees was, "If you are enjoying this, buy my book ...", he clearly succeeded with me - I ordered it during the conference.
Here is a bit of criticism. Hearing Luntz talking about identifying the appropriate words that work is more enjoyable than reading about it. But, it's not that his writing style is bad - it's just that he is so strong verbally that I think I held him to a higher standard. Actually, he imbeds humor, questions and "conversations" with the reader that make the pages flow. And, a lot of good old common sense too. Had I not seen him in action, I would not have made this observation.
I know there is some question between the difference between words that communicate vs. words that manipulate. There is a definite fine line here, particularly within the political arena, of which much of this book is devoted. Still, one earlier reviewer ascribed this to the more broadly defined "words that persuade," and I think this is fair.
Beyond all the stories, case studies and personal experiences involving products and products (the majority of the book), however, there is a primer in communication skill development for the reader. He tells readers which words work within their daily lives, be they needed to avoid a speeding ticket, negotiate with a spouse, or make the big presentation to the boss (followed by a forward looking request for a raise). In other words, I found that Luntz' book was much more than "words that work," it was about helping perceptive readers to become "people that work [more effectively, productively, successfully]."
Let me end by asking interested readers how they might approach their next big presentation. After reading this book, they are far more likely to begin with, "Imagine a working environment in which everyone spoke so simply, so clearly, so credibly, so consistently, so aspirationally," that everyone knew what they were supposed to do, and why and when ..."
Much more powerful.
This book reflects the popular culture. The examples are real and current. It is brain food for people who choose to improve by thinking about and using words that people hear. Highly recommended.
After all, it's not what you say, it's what people hear.
Top reviews from other countries
Fair warning: it’s America-centric and politically focused, so if you’re looking for a more general, universal handbook on the principles of effective writing, you’ll be disappointed. And perhaps predictable, Luntz is much more compelling and original when he talks about language in political contexts, whereas his points are less focused and veer into the banal when he talks about consumer brands and product marketing.
Overall, the book offers a good overview of principles all professional communicators should know but that never hurt to hear again.
The reader will need to be careful not to fall under the sway of Dr. Luntz’s practiced rhetoric: his opinions are disguised as truths throughout. (In a section on “authenticity,” only Democratic politicians seem to be singled out as inauthentic, for example.)
He has an insidious tendency to conflate rhetoric and truth throughout the book. His argument seems to be that if words make a powerful connection with its audience, they reflect reality, which of course sidesteps the issue of whose reality we’re talking about. For example, rephrasing “drilling for oil” as “exploring for energy” may encourage people to view oil extraction more positively, but it doesn’t actually make it less damaging to the environment.
This kind of reductive thinking also accounts for a snide and unnecessary footnote in which Luntz accuses Jon Stewart (who apparently called Luntz an “amoral Yoda”), of pitiful naivety when it comes to language: “What [Stewart] and so many others fail to realize is that as long as words are accurate, understandable, and credible, they will continue to influence people and move products.” Really? JON STEWART doesn’t understand the power of language? He has made a multimillion-dollar career out of deflating political and corporate puffery with dazzling wit and imagination. I think he gets it.