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Includes the name: Frank I. Luntz

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While much of this book (not unsurprisingly) focused on political language, there was a solid chunk devoted to business language and general effective writing.

And, regardless of what you think of Luntz as a guy, this is an amazing book when it comes to effective communication.
TobinElliott | 6 andre anmeldelser | Sep 3, 2021 |
Decades ago I was sitting in my Sophomore High School English class and we had an unexpected visitor. A previous "English Sterling Scholar" for the school stopped by to visit with our teacher and he was asked to give us an impromptu presentation. He'd gone on to major in English and was currently doing an internship on a speech writing team for one of our state politicians in Washington D.C. I remember him saying that he had a lot of people telling him that his English degree would be useless and he should choose something else. He told us that they were wrong and that there were plenty of job opportunities for people with English degrees. In fact, he suggested that a degree in English would be vital since more and more the future will have a dire need for people with the ability to write, read and understand language. He talked a bit about his experiences with political speech writing as well as opportunities to be professional writers for executives, colleges, research groups and others. I didn't have a great passion for politics so even though the speech writing thing sounded fun, I focused more on his points that an English degree had value. By that time I'd more or less decided I wanted to study English literature and writing but I had no idea what career might come of it. I definitely don't credit his entire impromptu speech as the impetus for my educational choices, but he did help me feel more confident in my plans.

I was given the book "Words That Work" as a gift by someone who knows my love of language and writing. Just glancing at the title I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from the book but I dove in, eager to find out. The author, Dr. Frank Luntz may well be one of the "end results" of the path started on by my visiting English Sterling Scholar mentioned above. Dr. Luntz has a passion for language and has taken that passion not only to Washington D.C. as a speech and campaign writer but also to numerous high profile corporations and non-profit groups. He stepped beyond the "simple" role of being "just" a speech writer and has taken on a role of helping a person shape their language into the best possible form for the desired message.

Much of the book includes anecdotes and references to real-world experiences that the author had with some politician, executive, or other highly visible individual. Truly he has had a star studded career having worked with US President's, Congressional/House Majority leaders, Fortune 100 Executives and Hollywood stars. Many of his stories were rather funny even if only for the unfortunate results of poorly structured language. I had a hard time relating directly to the many examples that were deeply entrenched in political or corporate dealings. still, the construction and results were intriguing.

The subtitle of the book "It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear" was the main focal point that Luntz returned to again and again. He presented a number of rules and bits of advice to help ensure your message is received in the way you intend. The first step, of course, is to make sure you are personally very clear on the desired message. After that, you need to very carefully and methodically analyze and choose words with special focus on your audience. Every listener comes with his or her own paradigms or prejudices which can taint certain words or cause even a seemingly simple and straightforward message to be misunderstood.

I really appreciated the analytic and in-depth way the author presented his ideas and backed them up with examples. The difficulty for me remains in how to take some of these higher concepts and their political/corporate examples and incorporate them into my own life in an effective way. Many of his examples include extensive studies with focus groups to examine and analyze reactions. A lot of his rules have to do with large scale speeches and presentations to large audiences such as a community council, corporate board members or even the entire nation.

As an individual non-political/executive person, many of the concepts are just too nebulous to easily translate into daily life. Fortunately, the last few chapters in the book include some examples meant for the "everyman" (or 'every-woman') such as how to talk with a police officer after being pulled over for speeding, how to schmooze your way past the concierge/greeter at a full restaurant, etc. Some of the examples and usage felt a little trite or at the very least unbalanced when compared with the examples throughout the rest of the book, but I was relieved that he at least made the effort.

He also included a section showcasing some of the most important words and phrases for the new century/decade/etc. In various sections of the book, some of his concepts felt a little dated. These "important words" sections felt even more dated than others. Some of the words he pointed out as being "new" have already become so entrenched in our collective vocabulary that they feel old. Others already feel a little antiquated. This just serves to emphasize a point that Luntz makes in saying that language is changing more and more rapidly and we have to do our best to keep up with an ever changing lexicon. He talks about the generational changes as Baby Boomers are retiring and dying off while Generation-X, Generation-Y, Millennials and other groups are bringing their own patterns of speech and mindsets.

Overall, I found this to be an interesting read. At times it felt a little too academic or that the examples and suggestions were too distanced from me as an "everyman" reader. But I definitely appreciated and enjoyed reading about his concepts of how to frame your words with the audience in mind and the suggestion emphasized by the subtitle that your message may not always be as clear to others as it is to you.

3 out of 5 stars
… (mere)
theokester | 6 andre anmeldelser | Jan 1, 2015 |
I really do not recall ever meeting "Dr Luntz", but I do think he contacted me when I was at Claremont. I remember a guy claiming he was associated with Lee Atwater, and he asked about my seminar on "Progress through Linguistics".

Dr. Luntz is now a very rich man working as one of the highest-paid "consultants" in the world. His clients are very rich plutocrats. He has devoted his life, and this book, to getting rich, but not in a manner which adds to wealth. He chose a twisted path and serves those who have destroyed prosperity. This is "stealing" and calling it "winning"; of course, it is still stealing.

On each page of this anecdotal self-promotion by Luntz, I am much reminded of Stockman's admission that during his service to the Roger Ailes/ Reagan administration--Luntz in tow--they had no facts at all behind the purely imaginative description of rich plutocrats as "job creators". That's pure Luntz.

This book reflects his wholesale commitment to the more fraudulent dimensions of word-smithery. Like all "successful" con-men, Luntz comes through this text as a likeable, personable man, who goes to the trouble of trying to get you to trust him. Do you see the flags?

As he repeatedly will tell us, Dr Luntz is a real "regular" on "Fox News". He is in fact, one of its most cherished authorities on developing its talking points, all designed to construct (fabricate) trust. He frames the issues for the largest media monopoly in the world -- the Murdock empire.

Much of Luntz' work and his value as a linguist, lies in his use of focus-groups to sift through vocabularies to find the perfect words. He presents many examples of "effective" words used by persuaders. While the "data" is presented in anecdotal fashion, with personable accounts that make the book persuasive, it is real data. Only rarely is actual candor exhibited -- as when he claims that he "might get in trouble with Rupert, Roger Ailes, and my friends at Fox News {sic} for putting this in print, but if you are watching only one cable news station and rejecting every other perspective, you're limiting your potential to win." [47] He admits he tried to bribe working people to give him access and more privileges over other customers at the expense of others. And he does so repeatedly, under the delusion that to do so reflects his perfectionism and "commitment to doing things right", although it is the opposite. [135]

In this work, we find valuable truths and linguistic facts, presented with unrelenting self-promotion and a gaping indifference to the actual substance. The author is utterly unaware of the impacts of his "lessons". Winning, after all, is all. This work, and Dr. Luntz, is breath-takingly indifferent to the impact which his "winning" has had on society and the real world. Most of us have a broader, more long-term view, of what "winning" is.

In this work, we read the cruel "how to" of how the wealthy plutocracy destroyed America in the decade of 2000s. Since the 1987 rise of neo-conservative "policies" packaged by Luntz, the feudal lords -- many of them interviewed by Luntz, who is "consulted" by them -- have waged a war against the middle class, and they "won" their war.

Of course, if you have gobs of money, you can buy this stuff, and that is the main thing you need to "win". That's what this book is all about.

Luntz offers this bizarre "KEY DEFINITIONS OF WINNING" as yet another gesture towards his subject:

- The ability to grasp the human dimension of every situation;
- the ability to know what questions to ask and when to ask them;
- the ability to see the challenge, and the solution, from every angle;
- the ability to communicate their vision passionately and persuasively;
- the ability to connect with others and create an enduring chemistry;

He follows the almost completely irrelevant list with anecdotes of famous people he has nailed for this book. None have anything helpful to say and none are remotely interested in helping others "win". His group of "winners" are not diverse, scientific, or even involved in building or creating wealth. A few are "leaders", but only because they got rich:

Mike Bloomberg, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rupert Murdoch, Steve Wynn, Fred Smith, J. Crew, Gibson Guitar, Larry Bird, Jimmy Connors, Mike Richter, Roger Ailes, Don Imus.

Luntz tells stories supposedly illustrating his 9 Principles of Winning: People-focused/Positioning,Priority Identification,Proactive Approach,Problem Solving, Passion, Pragmatic/Practical, Partnership,Persuasion and Persistence. Few of his anecdotes illustrate any of these "principles" -- in fact his list is not helpful and none of the items are "principles". But that label is attractive, infers a mash-up of pragmatism and science, and...there you have it. There's one born every minute that will be fooled.

Luntz offers more than seventy "words that work". They are not "new" words, but they do re-frame reality so that the real world is suitably distorted for the type of "win" you achieve by getting away with a con.

The use of wiggling words may amuse, but almost never works in private one-on-one meetings with any informed expert, or your boss; it may work for public presentations to hundreds of colleagues; but it is ideally suited for television appearances that reach millions in quick sound bytes. Hello, "Fox News" -- the entertainment station that charges plutocrats to lie about liberals.

Luntz still works for Roger Ailes, the CEO of Fox News. This propaganda agency won the right to lie to the American people, in court. The media monopoly is not a "news" organization, yet it asserted and "won" the right to represent itself as such. It is funded by Murdock and linguistically-enabled by Luntz. It has destroyed "News" gathering and reporting in America. Genuine fact-gathering news reporters cannot compete in a monopolized (un-free) market with a wealthy conglomerate offering very entertaining lies.

The plutocracy which has destroyed the American middle class, can thank Dr. Luntz for his part in achieving victory in this Koch-and-Murdock declared war. They are the "winners". We planted the orchard, they picked the low-hanging fruit and burned the orchard. Why? Did they win? Really?
… (mere)
keylawk | Apr 26, 2014 |
Frank Luntz is seen frequently on Fox News with his focus groups that use "Instant Response Dial Sessions" to check up on the attitudes of ordinary people, mostly in the arena of politics. He he shares what he's learned about how ordinary people process messages. His primary message is captured by the subtitle of his book: "It's not what you say, it's what people hear." The book explains the difference and how to sort out what words will get your message across—so that what you intend is what is heard. Some will say that the book is bloated with too much detail about how this has worked out in the corporate world and the political arena. This is to misunderstand the value of the book. In addition to aiding the communicator, it provides unique insight into recent history and the attitudes of people who make history.… (mere)
RDGlibrary | 6 andre anmeldelser | Nov 26, 2010 |


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