Jun 29, 2023
The power of language is paramount in any form of
communication. How one utilizes language can significantly impact
the outcome of conversations and the ability to persuade others. By
understanding the intricacies of language and the psychology behind
it, communicators can craft more effective messages that resonate
with their target audience. With a focus on desired identities,
motivations, and subtle shifts in language that can encourage or
discourage behavior, communicators can directly influence the
consumption and sharing of content.
During Jonah Berger's discussion with Melina Palmer,
he stressed the importance of language and provided insights from
his book, Magic Words. Dr. Berger highlighted the difference
between nouns and verbs and how a slight modification in language,
such as changing from "help" to "helper," could significantly alter
the perception of the task at hand. By diving into the psychology
behind language, Jonah offers practical tips to enhance
communication, ensuring messages are better received and
understood. He also briefly discusses one of his other books,
Contagious (a favorite of Melina's!), and the SPEACC framework in
- Hone your ability to communicate
powerfully through thoughtful language choices.
- Explore the influence of
converting verbs into nouns in shaping personal and professional
- Recognize the effect linguistic
similarity has on building rapport and attaining success.
- Examine the role of cutting-edge
technology in unbiased research and in-depth analysis.
- Understand the vital importance
of concrete language in creating compelling marketing and
- 00:00:00 - Introduction,
Melina Palmer introduces Dr. Jonah Berger, Wharton professor and
author of the new book Magic Words.
- 00:05:24 - Tips for Making
To make content stand out, communicators need to think less about
the product or service they are selling and more about the audience
and why they might want to share it. Understanding why people share
is key to making word-of-mouth marketing effective.
- 00:08:28 - The Power of
Subtle shifts in language can have a big impact on persuasion. For
example, calling someone a "helper" instead of asking them to
"help" can increase the likelihood of them taking the action you
want. Turning actions into identities can make people more likely
to claim desired identities.
- 00:17:26 - The Power of
Stories are powerful because they activate different parts of the
brain and help people remember information better. To make a story
more effective, focus on the emotions and how the story relates to
the audience's experience.
- 00:24:31 - The Power of Social
Social influence is powerful because people are more likely to take
action if they see others doing it. To make social influence work
for you, focus on the early adopters and influencers and make it
easy for them to share your message.
- 00:12:52 - The Value of Metaphor
and Concrete Language,
Jonah discusses the importance of using concrete language to show
others that we have heard them, and how this can lead to increased
customer satisfaction. For example, saying “Your refund will be
there soon” feels very different from “Your money will be in your
account tomorrow.” The latter (which is more concrete) had
increased customer satisfaction scores. He also explains the
difference between concrete and abstract language and how it can be
applied in different contexts.
- 00:16:13 - The SPEACC
Jonah breaks down the six key types of language covered in his book
and provides an overview of each one. These include the language of
Similarity and difference, Posing questions, Emotion, Agency and
identity, Concreteness, and Confidence.
- 00:18:12 - Linguistic
Jonah explains how linguistic similarity can be used to build
relationships and connections in the workplace, and how it can even
predict future outcomes such as promotions or employee turnover. He
also discusses the benefits of being both similar and different in
terms of content and language design.
- 00:19:40 - When to Use Concrete
Jonah discusses the research that shows when it is beneficial to
use more abstract language, such as in the case of entrepreneurs
pitching a business idea. He also explains the importance of
adapting to the linguistic culture of a workplace and how it can
impact career success.
- 00:21:34 - Language Similarity
Jonah provides examples of how linguistic similarity can impact
personal relationships, such as speed dating or building
friendships in the workplace. He also discusses the importance of
linguistic cues like pauses and intonation in building trust and
increasing positive perceptions.
- 00:25:47 - Making Your Brand an
The importance of making your brand an identity for your customers,
highlighting the significance of transitioning from a verb to a
noun. By finding opportunities for customers to be a part of the
brand, or the brand to be a part of them, companies can create a
stronger connection with their audience.
- 00:27:13 - The Power of AI,
Melina mentions how Jonah and his team use technology, including AI
and machine learning, to analyze large amounts of data, which
allows them to remove human bias and get results much faster. By
using technology to their advantage, businesses can unlock valuable
insights that may have been missed or too costly to produce.
- 00:28:47 - Insights from Magic
Jonah's book, Magic Words, provides insight into how language
affects business outcomes. From using concrete language in pitches
to predicting employee retention based on the language used in
emails, businesses can use language as a tool for success.
- 00:29:31 - Finding Insights in
The insights found in Magic Words and Jonah's research demonstrate
the power of analyzing data to uncover valuable insights. By asking
great questions and using technology to analyze data, businesses
can make informed decisions and achieve success.
- 00:29:44 - Conclusion,
Melina's top insights from the conversation. What stuck with you
while listening to the episode? What are you going to try? Come
share it with Melina on social media -- you'll find her as
@thebrainybiz everywhere and as Melina Palmer on LinkedIn.
Thanks for listening. Don’t forget to subscribe on
Apple Podcasts or Android.
If you like what you heard, please leave a
review on iTunes and share what you liked about the
I hope you love
everything recommended via The Brainy Business! Everything was
independently reviewed and selected by me, Melina Palmer. So you
know, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That
means if you decide to shop from the links on this page (via Amazon
or others), The Brainy Business may collect a share of sales or
Learn and Support The Brainy
Check out and get your copies of Melina’s
Get the Books Mentioned on (or related to)
Connect with Jonah:
Top Recommended Next Episode:
What is Cognitive
Semiotics? With Sarah Thompson (ep 259)
Already Heard That One? Try
Other Important Links: