Magic Words… by Tim David, who turned from professional magician giving more than 300 live performances a year… to word magician, now helping managers and leaders become more persuasive in their communications.
The author tackles one of the biggest problems in the business world: influencing your employees’, prospects’, and partners’ actions… how do you get others to do what you want them to. His book offers a solution by looking at the science and secrets behind a set of 7 simple yet powerful words.
As the saying goes, you can take a horse to the well but you can’t make it drink. That’s true, but the author’s goal is to show you how to make the horse thirsty!
It’s not about directly trying to change people’s behavior to do what you want them to do. It’s about artfully nudging one’s brain in the right direction to feel thirsty for your desired action.
The book’s table of contents looks surprisingly underwhelming and you may be tempted to put it down in disbelief, but it’s actually full of powerful and actionable insights that you don’t want to miss.
Does it work?
Yes! It may sound too good to be true but the reason it works is rather simple: as our environment has evolved to bombard us with too much information, our brains have coped by looking for shortcuts. So when we hear something, our brains make split-second, subconscious connections based on past experiences.
When you plan your words in order to evoke such connections intentionally, you are communicating in the most effective way. It’s not a sure path to get what you want – that would be true magic – but you should find much more success overall.
Let’s take a look at a few of these magic words and what their magic is all about.
Starting with the word ‘yes’. In sales, it’s proven crucial to find an early ‘yes’ as soon as possible. And then get multiple small ‘yeses’. That’s often the purpose of small talk: to find some common ground and get a prospect, potential partner or even an employer to find themselves agreeing with you more and more. Yeses build trust, which is much-needed in today’s highly transactional world. Framing it this way, we should reconsider the value of the often-dreaded small-talk.
Next is the word ‘but’, which has two effects: the ‘but eraser’ means that anything coming before the ‘but’ gets quickly forgotten, and the ‘but enhancer’ means that what comes after the ‘but’ gets disproportionately more attention.
Test this formula next time you find yourself in the midst of a disagreement:
First, repeat what the other person believes or wants to hear, which will elicit an initial ‘yes’ and will at the very least make them listen to you. They are even more likely to trust what comes next out of your mouth.
Then, inject a ‘but’, which effectively erases what you just said. And follow with what you want them to believe. What they believe gets erased before the ‘but’, and what you want them to believe gets enhanced.
Because is also a very interesting ‘magic’ word. Our brains are wired to seek rationalization… we need things to make sense. This has led to conditioning ourselves so that it almost doesn’t matter what comes after the word ‘because’.
Social experiments have shown this to be true: if you ask to cut a line for no reason, people will get upset. If you give a good reason, then they’re much more likely to comply. What’s much most interesting though is that they’re almost equally likely to comply even if you said something like “because I have to cut the line’.
Technically, it’s as good as cutting the line without giving a reason, but in practice it makes a huge difference!
What does it all mean
The author reveals the true ‘magic’ behind powerful words, and demonstrates how to use them effectively.
He shares simple yet advanced techniques such as making the word ‘because’ even more powerful by asking ‘why’… and having the other person fill in the blanks themselves. You know the answer, but if they hear it from you it’s an opinion, whereas if they come up with it themselves, then they treat it like a fact.
The book is filled with suggestions on how to structure arguments and approach situations in order to communicate much more effectively.