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Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear    by Frank Luntz order for
Words That Work
by Frank Luntz
Order:  USA  Can
Hyperion, 2007 (2007)

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by Kerrily Sapet

What's the difference between talking and being heard? Plenty, according to Dr. Frank Luntz, the political advisor who helped craft the Republican party's Contract with America. The way words are used determines everything from winning campaigns to political blunders to successful advertising jingles to ending an argument at home or getting the raise you deserve. In his book, Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear, Luntz offers secrets and basic tenets that open up a window into the mystery of why some messages hit home and others don't.

Luntz's belief is simple. Messages are seen through the prism of each individual's beliefs, emotions, and prejudices. The key to communicating your message effectively is to place yourself in people's shoes and think about how they will perceive it. Luntz crystallizes his advice into ten effective rules ranging from simplicity and brevity, to establishing credibility and being consistent, and to offering novelty, aspirations, and visualizations. He also touches on the need to explain the context of the message or ask listeners a question, reminding speakers that the sound and texture of their words is key. Throughout his advice Luntz sprinkles advertising campaigns gone awry and ones that have been successful for years. He uses political and legal case studies to support his premises in ways that are neither dull nor dry.

At the end of Luntz's book, he touches on situations in every day life - from getting a table at a packed restaurant to an argument with a spouse to talking your way out of a speeding ticket. His approaches and advice make sense, both in personal, political, and commercial contexts. Although Luntz has long worked for Republicans, Democrats too see the values of his lessons. 'Any Democrat who writes off his analysis and decades of experience just because he works for the other side is making a big mistake,' writes former presidential contender John Kerry. 'His lessons don't have a party label. The only question is, where's our Frank Luntz?'

Luntzís book takes an interesting peek into the way the words we use really work. With some thought, they can have the full impact we intend them to. And that is something to value indeed.

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