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Messengers: Who We Listen To, Who We Don't, and Why

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  143 ratings  ·  44 reviews
"In the age of fake news, understanding who we trust and why is essential in explaining everything from leadership to power to our daily relationships." -Sinan Aral

We live in a world where proven facts and verifiable data are freely and widely available. Why, then, are self-confident ignoramuses so often believed over thoughtful experts? And why do seemingly irrelevant
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 19th 2019 by PublicAffairs
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Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  143 ratings  ·  44 reviews

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Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Messengers: Who We Listen To, Who We Don't, and Why, is an insightful, engrossing and educative book. In the 21st century we find ourselves impacted more and more by influencers. We look to individuals we perceive as prominent and dynamic and take our social, professional, political and consumer cues from them. But how exactly does an individual gain the power to have influence over us, even when perhaps they should not? Why do some people with expertise, knowledge and good intentions get ...more
Yzabel Ginsberg
[I received a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

An interesting read altogether, although I sometimes found it too ‘light’ and superficial. Perhaps because of the many anecdotes it contains? On the one hand, they do help in getting the point, for sure, but after a while I felt that the book would be definitely more of an introduction (with the research quoted in it having to become the actual focus at some point) than a reference all of itself. Perhaps that was the goal
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Well organized and insightful, this book is deftly packaged focusing on who we listen to, who we don’t and why. In an ever-increasingly over-crowded shrill world where competing interests and their backers are jockeying for our attention and vote - whether it’s on a product, service, or person - who carries “the message” is key. What drives us to suspend rational thinking and facts and be swayed by those influencers/messengers deployed to coax us into believing that which may or may not be true. ...more
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Forget about honing only your message. It turns out that the messenger is much more important than the message. That’s why millions react to Obama’s tweets but nobody would react to mine.

So what makes a compelling messenger? Strong and soft powers:
1. Socio-economic position: celebrity power
2. Competence
3. Dominance: Trump vs Clinton
4. Attractiveness: cute babies and beautiful models sell stuff

1. Warmth: warm Doctors get better results and get sued less
2. Vulnerability. But only if
Aug 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Essentially the book tells us this: In the west, especially the United States, people listen to whoever has money, regardless of their experience or qualifications to comment on a subject. In the rest of the world, intelligence and actual knowledge are required to get people's attention. Which really comes as no surprise, and the situation is going to continue to escalate until no one in America even bothers to think for themselves (although whether they do now is debatable). The rest of the ...more
Doğukaan Satır
Jan 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Good book with simple points. It has no re-read value.

My summary:

Messengers people tend to listen:

1. Socioeconomic status:
-Looking wealthy.

2. Perceived competence:
Taking medical advice from a doctor etc.
Having mature, less round than average face(high cheekbones, angular jaw).

3. Dominance can be a forceful way to get the message across:
Dominance indications:
-Competitive, assertive, even aggressive behavior focusing on self-interest rather than empathy.
-Low pitched voice(remember Elizabeth
Tom Williams
Oct 08, 2019 rated it liked it
The subtitle of Messengers is ‘Who We Listen To, Who We Don’t, And Why’. In a world that has given us Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, learning the answer to this question seems worth the effort involving reading the book, but having finished it I’m not sure that I’m any clearer.

This is a pop psychology book with all the strengths and weaknesses of that genre. It starts out with a lot of anecdotes – some mind-blowingly banal (somebody who tweeted something on the same day that Barrack Obama
Barred Owl Books
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"In the age of fake news, understanding who we trust and why is essential in explaining everything from leadership to power to our daily relationships." -Sinan Aral

We live in a world where proven facts and verifiable data are freely and widely available. Why, then, are self-confident ignoramuses so often believed over thoughtful experts? And why do seemingly irrelevant details such as a person's appearance or financial status influence whether or not we trust what they are saying, regardless of
Sep 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Messengers is a tour de force of information, illustrations and anecdotes about why we listen to some people but not others and the effect this can have regarding what we believe or don’t. There is a plentiful list of data from scientific research from which the authors draw their conclusions. At face value it’s an excellent popular level study and draws examples from the worlds of high finance, social media, celebrity and politics to name a few. It should be required reading for anyone who ...more
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating and well researched book which explains why we listen to some people over others. We live in an era where our leaders constantly lie to us and feed us biased or untrue information. This book gives some insight into why people believe them.

Easy to read and well thought out.
Solomiya Zahray
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An essential read that makes one think about leaders, influencers and our surrounding from another engle/perspective and reevaluate the power of opinions
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
i loved this book i like to read it again and again if i find Time
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Disappointingly, nothing new here.
Daisy Dooley
Sep 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating book bringing together research about the people who influence our lives and who we choose to listen to, and why. In Part One, 'hard' messengers are discussed. These are people who are seen as having socio-economic status, competence, dominance and attractiveness. In this context, it's explained why for example, celebrities are used to endorse high-end products such as perfume, They are selling the illusion that by buying those products, the consumer can achieve status ...more
Theodore Kinni
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
A broad survey and synthesis of research regarding the qualities that make for effective messengers. Hard not to conclude that we’re pretty much idiots when it comes to choosing to whom we will listen, believe, and follow. (Pub date: 10/15/19)
Vanessa Princessa
I read this book thanks to Blinkist.

The key message in these blinks:

When we listen to a message, we don’t just judge it on its merits. We judge it by the messenger who delivers it and make a rapid, instinctive assessment of their status or of how they connect with us as humans by, for example, demonstrating vulnerability or trustworthiness. We listen to and trust people not according to their intelligence or the coherence of their arguments but for reasons from the color of their clothes to the
Alison Bradbury
Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book takes you by the hand and walks you through the different personality types of a whole range of messengers from Politicians to Social Media Influencers end even your friends. Chock full of supporting Psychological research, some really well known, some less well known but all equally relevant. It explains why during times of national crisis that voters tend to prefer a more robust leader who displays more dominant personality types, and why at the rest of the time voters are drawn to ...more
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating and well researched book looking into why we believe some people and not others. The authors show that although we think we make considered choices about who to listen to, we usually just react to the messenger. They identify 8 traits that determine who gets heard and who gets ignored. The psychology is interesting from the influence of the shoes we wear and the verbal and physical cues we pick up on. Sadly they show that looking and sounding right is more important than ...more
Colin Marks
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
We all think we're a good judge of people and aren't easily influenced, but numerous studies have shown this isn't true. We're likely to be more patient if the car in front that doesn't move when a traffic light turns green is executive, and we're more likely to listen to Ian Botham tell us how to survive a nuclear attack than a scientist or someone from the military.

Messengers, by journalist Stephen Martin and psychologist Joseph Marks, discusses who influences us most, and why. The personal
Sophie Childs
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a freelance copywriter, this was an incredibly useful book on why the messenger is just as important - if not more so - as the message and how you can make sure you're heard.

Easy to read and highly accessible, it covers a wealth of research which explains the complexities around getting people to listen and why it is we'll accept the same information from one source when we''d reject it from another.

It's a book which is invaluable to anyone who needs to communicate effectively, whether that
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
If you've read Cialdini and Gladwell, you can skip this shallow attempt at repeating the deeper, more insightful and useful information shared by the aforementioned two other authors. In Messengers, Marks and Stephen provide their theories in shallow and overly presumptuous ways which would probably annoy the more well read and well versed reader and student of human behavior and psychology. Maybe I have read too many of these books by better researchers and authors. If I could return this book ...more
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Messengers by Stephen Martin and Joseph Marks should be one of those books that everybody reads. This book looks at what makes us decide whether to listen to and if we trust their message. The authors, behavioural experts explore the traits that determine if we are heard or if we are ignored, showing how an appearance or financial status can have a huge impact on people listening if when the message might be wrong. Analysing the nature of speakers with they use cues, both verbal and physical to ...more
Jan 12, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5. On the one hand this had a lot of anecdotal examples on messages and messengers, many of which I've heard before. That put it a little bit in the group of "a book that should have been a series of articles" on the other, as a women it was a timely reminder of all the reasons why women are so seldom listened to, particularly if they're in lower status professions, are older, shorter, etc. etc.
As a wannabe Cassandra surrounded by constantly positive cheerleader male types I guess I'll need to
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In a world of political uncertainty and polarised views, it’s more important now than ever to understand what we pay attention to. This book illustrates that it’s actually the WHO rather than the WHAT that can matter the most.

Steve and Joe have done a brilliant job of dissecting 60 years of research into a 8 commonly found traits of effective messengers. The case studies and narratives within the book bring the concepts alive and applicable to our lives today.

A phenomenal book by... two very
Sep 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thank you to NetGalley for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review! A really useful insight to the human psyche, who we listen to, and why. Quick and easy read with lots of points that raise awareness not only on society as a whole but with helpful knowledge we can apply to ourselves as well, whether to be more responsible about who we listen to, or in getting more people to listen to us in turn.
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Interesting read. Sometimes a bit slow due to details, the stories and research can be fascinating. Some of the ideas are common but now backed by strong research. Other newer ideas are a wealth of knowledge to modern communicators.

I recommend this for any communicator - teacher, pastor, corporate leader, and especially public speakers. For those experienced with communication literature, this is a solid addition but can be more perused then read in its entirety.
Jo-anne Atkinson
Nov 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Having wondered how certain people get ahead in life I found the answers in this book. In my experience those that exude (often misplaced) confidence are seen as being more capable that those who simply get on and do the job. Here the authors look at the traits that inspire confidence and as an older modest female I realise the huge disadvantages I am labouring under! That aside, this is a really fascinating book littered with excellent examples and based on lots of research.
Mark Mills
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
There's a lot of interesting research in here but the conclusions are mostly fairly obvious. I'm not sure whether to hold this against it or not because only rating books with surprising or counterintuitive conclusions seems liable to encourage contrarianism. Nonetheless, that does mean this is not as interesting a book as you might expect given the engaging writing style and interesting subject matter.
Oct 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really interesting delve into the world of communication and leadership, and how we can be seduced, put off or misdirected by various factors. In particular it focuses on status and the softer cues like charisma, i found this really interesting and will feed into my studies on business and leadership.
Leanne Neale
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A riveting and valuable insight into why people behave the way they do. The information has been gathered through numerous scientific studies and presented as a readily readable anecdote, not only to past and current significant events and crises, but also as a useful reference tool in understanding our own psyche. Thoroughly recommend.
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