Words that Work

there is a new book out called, “Words That Work: It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear” which is all about how communication matters – independent of the content. this half-hour NPR interview of the author is pretty good… in the interview he compares how people typically respond to different words used to expressing the same concept:

  • “estate tax” as being OK (taxing the rich) versus “death tax” (repulsive).

  • “drilling for oil” (exploitative) versus “energy exploration” (cleaner).

  • “global warming” (divisive, emotional, intense, polarizing) versus “climate change” (thoughtful, reasonable, less hysteria).

  • “gaming” versus “gambling” to describe Vegas.

  • he says bush would have been more effective if he said “reexamination” or “reassessment” (flexibility, listening) instead of “surge” which is a simple focus on troop movement.

  • “electronic intercepts” works a lot better than “wiretapping.”

to get out of the politics he says we need to find ways to listen to people who we do not necessarily agree with – conservatives reading new york times and liberals watching fox news. this book is his way of how to do that…

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