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Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear
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Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  1,074 Ratings  ·  155 Reviews
The nation's premier communications expert shares his wisdom on how the words we choose can change the course of business, of politics, and of life in this country In Words That Work, Luntz offers a behind-the-scenes look at how the tactical use of words and phrases affects what we buy, who we vote for, and even what we believe in. With chapters like "The Ten Rules of Succ ...more
Hardcover, 350 pages
Published January 2nd 2007 by Hachette Books (first published December 20th 2006)
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Apr 07, 2011 William rated it really liked it

Let's be clear, Frank Luntz is a tool, and he's personally responsible for Republican's misrepresenting their platforms by using the power of word choice. But if you can look at what he's been able to do, you have to admit, he's amazing. Totally unethical, amoral, and a certified bag of dicks, but wow, he's literally convinced dying people to vote against their own medicare, poor people to vote against their own incentive programs, and criminals to increase prison sentences.

Words tha
Feb 20, 2011 Gloria rated it really liked it
Okay, I have to put a big caveat on the rating. I really did like it because I learned *a ton*.

I don't agree with the guy or admire him, and I think he really twisted the notion of what George Orwell was trying to get at in his famous essay—a lot of what this book does is in fact flirting the very edges of Orwellian language as we know it in the negative sense.

But in reality, what he is saying is to take advantage of the fact that words are imprecise, that the word "blue" conjures up different s
Oct 22, 2011 Ken rated it liked it
This is my second book by Luntz, and I have the same problem with this book as I did with, WHAT AMERICANS REALLY WANT...REALLY. Every issue has many different sides, and various ways of interpreting the controversy. Luntz could very well support the views of Slave Holders, or promote the concepts of Freedom From Slavery. There does not seem to be A Moral Center to his work, and I don't think that it really matters to him. He is the man who changed "Inheritance Tax" to "Death Tax". He claims that ...more
Oct 12, 2012 Johnny rated it liked it
Have you ever tried to convince someone of something and had exactly the opposite effect? The thesis of Dr. Frank Luntz, consultant to presidents, political parties, causes, and corporations, in Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear is that we tend to sabotage our communication with complexity, length, lack of dependability, inconsistency, and repetitiveness. See, I’ve already broken his command to keep it simple and brief. That probably undermines my credibility. The key ...more
Natasha Yong
Jun 07, 2009 Natasha Yong rated it it was ok
Every occasionally, I think about "words".
How often we belittle its influence, its reach and its power. How mere 'words' can induce so much emotions. How it's used to encourage, to build and to grow; or how it's used to criticise, to demean or devastate.

Dr. Frank Luntz, America's premier communications expert shares his wisdom on how the words we choose can change the course of business, of politics, and of life. Frank uses his knowledge of words to help more than two dozen Fortune 500 companies
Vince Wu
May 28, 2011 Vince Wu rated it it was ok
For a book whose core message is effective language, I found "Words that Work" much too verbose and meandering for my liking. Some of the early chapters could be summed up quite easily in a few pages, especially as the ideas are borderline stating the obvious. I suggest reading chapter 1 "The Ten Rules of Effective Language" then skimming the rest unless you find an example particularly interesting.

It's quite clear though that Frank Luntz is an expert at the art of crafting and framing messages.
Garrett Burnett
Jul 09, 2008 Garrett Burnett rated it did not like it
Frank Luntz, excuse me, Dr. Frank Luntz came across as a pompous, arrogant idiot. I guess it was supposed to be a book on rhetoric. He includes some really weak bits about business, the history of the English language, and grammar that were cringe inducing. He is a pollster who works mainly with politicians. When he sticks with his strengths (opinion polls and dealings with politicians), the book is tolerable. As the one star I awarded indicates, for the most part it was not tolerable.

After a fe
Feb 18, 2013 Patrick rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
If you read this book, you also have to read "Don't Think of an Elephant" by George Lakoff immediately after you finish this book. The books are complimentary to each other, even though they were written by people from opposite political spectrums. Together, they make up what each book seems to lack.

This book was written by Luntz, who is an extreme right-winger and brags about how he helped Newt Gingrich grab power and how he bamboozled America into believing the "Contract for America" was a tru
Jan 03, 2015 Chris rated it liked it
Shelves: i-own
Decades ago I was sitting in my Sophomore High School English class and we had an unexpected visitor. A previous "English Sterling Scholar" for the school stopped by to visit with our teacher and he was asked to give us an impromptu presentation. He'd gone on to major in English and was currently doing an internship on a speech writing team for one of our state politicians in Washington D.C. I remember him saying that he had a lot of people telling him that his English degree would be useless ...more
Amal Shoeib
The author beaks down the infrastructural elements of a good speech as the following:

1) Simplicity: Use Small Words

“Avoid words that might force someone to reach for the dictionary… because most Americans won’t. They’ll just placidly let your real meaning sail over their heads or, even worse, misunderstand you. You can argue all you want about the dumbing down of America, but unless you speak the language of your intended audience, you won’t be heard by the people you want to reach.”

2) Brevity:
Aug 13, 2008 Alan rated it did not like it
This is a deeply cynical book by an author who never tires of telling you he was the main genius behind the "Contract with America" that helped the Republicans win control of Congress in 1994.
He starts by quoting George Orwell bemoaning the misuse of language. He then proceeds to misuse language, and purports to teach the rest of us to do the same, for the rest of the book.
According to Doctor Luntz, who has no doubt tested every word in polls and focus groups, changing the name of an activity
Evelyn Puerto
Jan 29, 2013 Evelyn Puerto rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Frank Luntz’s Words that Work is an engrossing read of words that do work, whether in politics, business or just everyday life. He doesn’t just give his opinions. Rather, they are backed up with extensive focus group and other research.

Luntz summarizes his book in just one sentence: It’s not what you say, but what you hear. Using case studies and examples, he demonstrates just how easy it is to think you are saying one thing but your audience hears another, and sets up 10 rules for effective com
Kenny Tang
Easy to understand and a worthwhile read for anyone that communicates. It's not the most profound thing ever but it's amazing how many people fail to use these ideas in their communication. His 10 rules are the most worthwhile takeaway from this read. The book drags, lacks humor, and lacks gripping stories. In fact, I think the author makes exactly 1 joke in the entire book and I forgot all the stories already. The author is responsible for much of the language used in Republican political ...more
Nov 12, 2010 Jay rated it liked it
Shelves: business, audiobook
Interesting, but not exactly what I thought it was. I was expecting a discourse on words in a broad context of communication. Instead, this is focused on words as catch phrases and as such it works very well for people that write advertisements and election campaign slogans and such. It doesn't go into how to sustain the impact of specific words and thoughts throughout a larger context, like a proposal response or longer forms of communication. Very good at what it does. I listend on audio, and ...more
so who wrote this book again? was it frank luntz or aaron sorkin, creator of hit television series The West Wing... ??

kindof boring. and not worth my time!
Robert Manigold
Oct 08, 2014 Robert Manigold rated it it was amazing
A very good read that helps people communicate more succinctly and clearly.
Oct 23, 2014 Derek rated it did not like it
Should be titled, "How to Be an Elitist Manipulator." Very nearly absolute rubbish.
Nov 11, 2014 Casie rated it it was ok
Nov 19, 2008 Allen rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: CNN junkies over 40
Lutz may be one of the most powerful men in Washington. He takes credit for 'The Contract with America' that got Newt Gingrich and a Republican majority elected for the first time in 20 years. He takes credit for influencing most major issues and in many cases, helping to directly turn the tides of elections as well as being a master of spinning scandals. Jon Stuart once called him an evil republican Yoda.

Lutz explains how persuasive language is constructed and gives many examples and criticism
James Barr
Jan 10, 2016 James Barr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"You can have the best message in the world, but the person on the receiving end will always understand it through the prism of his or her own emotions, preconceptions, prejudices, and preexisting beliefs. It's not enough to be correct or reasonable or even brilliant. The Key to successful communication is to take the imaginative leap of stuffing yourself right into your listener's shoes to know what they are thinking and feeling in the deepest recesses of their mind and heart. How that person ...more
Brittany Rogers
Sep 29, 2013 Brittany Rogers rated it liked it
Shelves: sf-recommended
Dr. Luntz, though definitely outdated and ever-so-slightly misogynist, has quite a few key points in this text that I can get behind. We are so flippant with our language that half of our modern slang have very crude meanings. We try to use bigger words when smaller words would do just fine. We rely on similes and metaphors that we assume everyone knows and that half of my generation doesn't even know the origin of.

I didn't know what a "hat trick" was, in either sports term or metaphor. I also d
Mohammad Ali Abedi
Aug 03, 2013 Mohammad Ali Abedi rated it really liked it
Occasionally, I go into phases where I decided that I want to read self-development books. The idea of it does not seem to be bad, there is no reason why I should not improve myself as a being, using other’s materials as guidelines. The only problem is that after two or three books or audiobooks, I give up, because the material is…just…so…FUCKING BAD. It is unbelievable. I don’t blame the authors, I blame the people. None of them has anything substantial, it is all full of fluff crap. If I want ...more
Mar 15, 2013 Sheehan rated it it was ok
1.5 stars...I didn't like it, but it was okay.

Picked up this book off the donation shelf of our Library (this should have been an early indication!), figured it might hold some useful tips/tricks for utilizing language to make my job easier in working with the public.

This book seems intent on legitimizing Dr. Frank Luntz's legacy as the craft wizard of language that successfully sold the 1994 Contract for America among other misrepresented legislation and campaigns. Shortly into this book I rea
Nov 14, 2015 Suhrob rated it liked it
This is an example of book, where it is hard to disentangle what you think about the book itself and its political/moral (in the broadest sense) message.

I'll try to stick to the formal side - the book is decently written, but as many books in the genre, has a feel that could have been much, much shorter. Fortunately, instead of empty padding out as usual, Luntz took a slightly different approach and along the core chapters, included several top-20 lists, case studies and a "day-to-day" applicati
Jul 22, 2012 Brett rated it liked it
Luntz is widely regarded as the patron saint of republican catch phrases, and here he supposedly offers to share his wisdom about the workings of effective language. For the person that has spent much time thinking about language (or has spent time just writing) I suspect that there isn't much here that is really going to blow your mind. Be direct; be repetitive; use simple language. Not bad advice, but not exactly a doctoral seminar either, from someone that very conspiculously displays the ...more
Jun 29, 2008 Mathew rated it it was ok
Luntz is a shameless braggart, making statements like the Contract with America "changed the whole world" and claiming that McCain stole Strait Talk express from him. The entire book is soaked in slanted, half true, divisive political anecdotes that do little to illuminate the linguistic points Luntz tries to make. He inserts these anecdotes as a way to tell how clever and important he thinks he is and how his political agenda is holy and right - not to discuss language. If he employed an ...more
Feb 25, 2014 Matt rated it it was ok
The premise of this book is that individual words operate like strikes to psychic pressure points.

The author claims to have identified many of these words. He lists them and analyses why these particular Words Work. It's mostly a victory lap for the guy's perceived victories. If you love Republicans and their messaging, you may enjoy taking the victory lap with him. Not the case with me.

I was prepared to give this one star, but basking in the relief that I feel at not having to read another pag
Jing-li Yu
Aug 07, 2011 Jing-li Yu rated it it was ok
The underlying message is good and worth re-emphasizing; some of Luntz's anecdotes were also useful for reinforcement. But sometimes the book sounds preachy, other times it sounds too much like a self-help book, it contains some blatantly partisan potshots, and his lead into his chapter of the dynamism of language (by explaining how "Orwellian," "Kafkaesque," and "Machiavellian" all have the opposite of their original or intended meanings) was unconvincing. That lead hurt his credibility because ...more
Aug 09, 2011 Allison rated it liked it
A very interesting read about the perceptions of language, particularly within the fields of advertising and politics (one could argue they are becoming the same thing). I like Luntz's attitude that we should use our words to convey clarity and truth rather than manipulate facts and distort meaning (which the latter is how I see many political and advertising campaigns)so I wholeheartedly support that message.
It was interesting that used the example of the failure of 'New Coke' was the 'new and
Feb 26, 2016 Dmytro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another title for this book could have been:
"Its Not What You Say, Its How You Say it"

The general idea of the book is: by changing the specific words you choose or even by changing the order in which you present information you greatly influence on how messages are received.

The author goes on to discuss techniques and examples in the following environments:
- Business
- Political
- Personal

One of the main messages of the book is: people interpret information through a certain lens. A persons' h
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“You can have the best message in the world, but the person on the receiving end will always understand it through the prism of his or her own emotions, preconceptions, prejudices, and preexisting beliefs. It's not enough to be correct or reasonable or even brilliant. The key to successful communication is to take the imaginative leap of stuffing yourself into your listener's shoes to know what they are thinking and feeling in the deepest recesses of their mind and heart. How that person perceives what you say is even more real, at least in a practical sense, than how you perceive yourself.” 8 likes
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