Magic Words by Tim David – Book Review

Magic Words: The Science and Secrets Behind Seven Words That Motivate, Engage, and Influence – Tim David – Book Review

When speaking about leadership I always state “people are not logical, but they are predictable.Jedi KnightTherefore we must study human behavior and use this predictability to get things done. Even though we are predictable it does not mean we are not complex. Therefore this predictability is worthy of lifelong study, to which I jokingly refer as sharpening my Jedi Knight skills.

As part of this lifelong study I read Magic Words. In the book the Tim David cites the seven magic words as

Yes, But, Because, Their Name, If, Help and Thanks

and provides a chapter on each. I strongly recommend that you read this book so you know how to effectively use these words in written and verbal communication. Additionally the following four books are foundational in understanding human behavior and increasing your ability to lead.

Below are my top ten highlights from Magic Words: 

  1. Only 7 percent of what we communicate to others has anything to do with the words that we say; the rest is transmitted through our vocal tone and body language (38 percent and 55 percent respectively).
  2. However, in order to be an effective communicator, you must embrace this fact: whether you intend to or not, you are manipulating the thoughts, feelings, and actions of others. Magic Words
  3. It appeared that priming the subjects with a question instead of a statement significantly improved their performance on a subsequent task.
  4. During every argument, negotiation, sales pitch, performance review, or platform presentation, you should strive to find a “yes” early on.
  5. … Rye Gutierrez put “absolutely” at the top of his list of “The Top 25 Power Words.” He writes: “‘ Absolutely’ is one of the best words in the English language. It answers questions definitely . It ends doubt. It gives confidence to you as a problem-solver. It removes worry, doubt, and apprehension.” In short, it’s a “yes” on steroids.
  6. There are two halves to the But Effect: the But Eraser and the But Enhancer… For the listener, everything said before the word “but” is erased, and everything after the word “but” is enhanced.
  7. The formula is simple: something positive—something negative— something positive. Intellectually, they’ll get the “no” message, but it won’t hurt them as much emotionally.
  8. People make their decisions based on emotion first, and then they back them up with logic. Logic helps, but ultimately it’s feelings that move people to action.
  9. Notice— and this is important— the brain only wants to feel like it understands the cause. It doesn’t actually have to understand the cause.
  10. Philosopher David Hume once wrote: “Of all the crimes that human creatures are capable of committing, the most horrid and unnatural is ingratitude.” … Ingratitude is such a repulsive and unlikable trait that no one wants to be around an ungrateful person, let alone work for one.

Posted by Dr. James Brown in Leadership Skills, Leadership Training.


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