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The power of language: Understanding its impact on communication, persuasion, and decision-making – Jonah Berger

The words we choose have the potential to shape the world around us. If we select words that are not just meaningful but also impactful, could we be more likely to achieve the outcomes we desire? Today on Inside Automotive, Jonah Berger, a Professor at the Wharton School and an internationally bestselling author, will unveil some intriguing concepts from his book ‘Magic Words: What to Say to Get Your Way.’

Key Takeaways 

1. Jonah Berger emphasizes the significant impact of language on various aspects of life, including communication, persuasion, leadership, marketing, and decision-making. He highlights that subtle language shifts can substantially affect outcomes and how others perceive us.

2. Berger introduces a framework called “SPEAK” to categorize different types of impactful language: Similarity and Difference, Posing Questions, Emotion, Agency and Identity, Certainty, and Concreteness. Each type of language influences behavior and perception in specific ways.

3. One of the key concepts discussed is framing actions to allow individuals to claim desired identities. For example, using language that emphasizes being a “helper” rather than just “helping” increases the likelihood of cooperation. Similarly, framing actions as opportunities to demonstrate identities, such as being a voter, can increase engagement.

4. Berger provides practical tips for improving communication effectiveness, such as paying attention to language use, minimizing fillers like “um” and “uh,” and using pauses strategically to convey thoughtfulness and interest. He also emphasizes the importance of asking the right questions to shape conversations and positively influence decisions.

5. Nevertheless, Berger discusses how analyzing language data, such as email language or loan application language, can provide valuable insights into individual behavior and organizational outcomes. Understanding how language reflects underlying traits and tendencies can help improve decision-making and predictive accuracy.

"Language is part of everything we do, right? You and I are talking to one another right now using language, languages, how salespeople sell, it's how leaders lead, it's how marketers create advertisements to convince consumers." - Jonah Berger.

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Jaelyn Campbell
Jaelyn Campbell
Jaelyn Campbell is a staff writer/reporter for CBT News. She is a recent honors cum laude graduate with a BFA in Mass Media from Valdosta State University. Jaelyn is an enthusiastic creator with more than four years of experience in corporate communications, editing, broadcasting, and writing. Her articles in The Spectator, her hometown newspaper, changed how people perceive virtual reality. She connects her readers to the facts while providing them a voice to understand the challenges of being an entrepreneur in the digital world.

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