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

Frank Luntz

Top 10 Best Quotes

“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.”

“Every attack that is not met with a clear and immediate response will be assumed to be true.”

“They learned the hard way – or not at all – that language is like fire: Depending on how you use it, it can either heat your house or burn it to the ground.”

“He broke a cardinal rule of political communication: never repeat a criticism as part of your rebuttal.”

“When you trash the opposition, you simultaneously demean yourself.”

“Those who define the debate will determine the outcome.”

“These, then, are the ten rules of effective communication, all summarized in single words: simplicity, brevity, credibility, consistency, novelty, sound, aspiration, visualization, questing, and context.”

“Remember, everything you need to say should be up front. All that you want to say can come later.”

“My client comes into the courtroom with baggage because we do not have the presumption of innocence in America. Truth is, we have the assumption of guilt, and it starts the minute somebody is arrested. Nobody says “an innocent person was arrested today on suspicion of murder.” What happens is the Chief of Police, the District Attorney, and everybody else who is looking to get on television has a press conference and says “We have solved a crime. We have arrested and have in custody the person who did it. He will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” And then a lawyer comes along at some point and either says “no comment” or “my client’s not guilty,” but nobody believes, so my job as a lawyer is to try to level the playing field.”

“He knew instinctively that Americans vote for dreamers because they themselves like to dream.”

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Book Keywords:

debate, speech, insults, attack, communication, innocence, language, criticism, americans

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