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Posted: 2006-12-07 / Author: Kurt Mortensen

Power Selling With Word Choice

The Law of Verbal Packaging states that the more skillful a person is in the use of language, the more persuasive they will be. People are persuaded by us based on the words we use. Words affect our perceptions, our attitudes, our beliefs, and our emotions. The words we use in the persuasion process make all the difference in the world. Language used incorrectly will lose the deal you might otherwise have closed. Word skills are also directly related to earning power. Successful people all share a common ability to use language in ways that evoke vivid thoughts, feelings, and actions in their audiences

Over 60 percent of your day is spent in oral communication, in which you could be persuading, explaining, influencing, motivating, counseling, or instructing. You can create movement, excitement, and vision with the words you use. The right words are captivating; the wrong words are devastating. The right words make things come to life, create energy, and are more persuasive than the wrong words. As Mark Twain said, "The difference between the right word and the wrong word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." The bottom line is that the words you use attract or repel your prospects.

Understand that proper language varies from setting to setting, and from event to event. One word choice does not work in every circumstance. Word choice can also be critical to defusing situations and in getting people to accept your point of view. Even one word can make the difference in perception and acceptance. In a study by Harold Kelley,1 students were given a list of qualities describing a guest speaker they were about to hear. Each student read from either one of the following two lists:

1. Cold, industrious, critical, practical, and determined
2. Warm, industrious, critical, practical, and determined

Of course, the students who read #1 had less than positive feelings about the speaker. The interesting thing, though, is that the lists are exactly the same except for one word! It seemed that the differing word’s placement at the head of the list conditioned how the reader felt in reading through the rest of the list. It didn’t matter that none of the following words were negative. Just reading the word "cold" tainted how the students read the rest of the list.

Words communicate abstract or vague things. We can use them to explain events, to share feelings, and to help visualize the future. Words shape our thoughts, feelings, and attitudes towards a subject. They help decide if we stay neutral or take action. Just reading words can affect your thoughts, attitudes, and feelings. For example, read these six words slowly and vocally, taking notice of how they make you feel.

Murder -- Hate -- Depressed -- Cancer -- Sad -- Despair

Now read the following six words slowly and vocally, noticing how the words affect you as you do so.

Wealth -- Success -- Happiness -- Health -- Inspiration -- Joy

How did these words make you feel? Successful persuaders know how to use the right words to create the desired response in their audiences. Speakers with greater verbal skills come across as more credible, more competent, and more convincing. Speakers who hesitate, use the wrong words, or lack fluency have less credibility and come across as weak and ineffective.

Sales professionals also use words carefully. They know that one wrong word can send their prospect’s mind somewhere else and lose them the sale. Some examples of language that salespeople use to help diffuse a potentially tense situation include the following:

Contract -- Agreement/paperwork
Sign here -- OK the paperwork /Autograph
Sell/buy -- Get involved
Cancellation -- Right of rescission
Salesperson -- Business consultant
Commission -- Fee for my services
Cost -- Investment
Credit card -- Form of payment
Problem -- Challenge
Objections -- Areas of concern
Expensive -- Top of the line
Cheaper -- More economical
Service charge -- Processing fee

The airline industry has mastered the power of words. They know word choice is critical to getting their point across and to reducing panic. When you listen to the flight attendants’ instructions before take off, you also hear careful word choice. They tell you that in the event of a water landing, your seat cushion can be used as a "flotation device." Hello! What they’re really saying is, "If we crash into water, grab your seat cushion so you don’t drown." Notice they don’t say "life preserver," but rather they call it a "flotation device." Also note that there is no "barf bag" on board--it’s a motion discomfort bag. Or "we are experiencing a mechanical difficulty" instead of "the plane is broken." They don’t clean the plane; they refresh it. Planes aren’t late; they’re merely delayed. And, my personal favorite, they never lose my luggage; they misplace it. Yes, airlines know the power of word choice in affecting their customers’ point of view.

Application Questions:

Verbally package your product/service – Put it in the best light.

How can you put your products/service greatest weakness and verbally package it into a strength?

Give me a 2 minute portion of your presentation. Verbally package it for me.

About the Author: Kurt Mortensenwww.PreWealth.com


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