Three Language Hacks To Boost Your Persuasion Power

Last night my wife and I rented the movie “Arrival” on demand. I’m a total sci-fi geek and I love Amy Adams. That made it a perfect combination for me.

I won’t give away too much of the movie. I’ll reveal just enough to provide context so the tips below make sense.

Amy Adams is a language expert tasked with communicating with Aliens. Their language presents challenges to the team. It’s like nothing they’ve ever seen. They race to figure out the mystery behind it. One line in the movie about language stuck with me. It’s about how language provides insight into how we think.

It reminded me of the importance of language. In particular, by paying attention to the words your readers, prospects or audience use, you discover a great deal. The more you know about the people you are trying to persuade, the more accurate you can target your message.

There’s a myriad of nuances to pay attention to. For now, we’ll focus on three big ones that get you the most bang for your buck.

Perspective Bias

Two people can look at the same circumstance and draw different opinions. It all depends on the lens they look through. For example, I may see something as a problem. You may see it as an opportunity. I may see a business as doing gods work. You may see it as a farce.

Find enough examples of this and you can build a picture of how your prospect sees the world. Stay away from passing judgments. That’ll throw off your ability to craft an accurate message.


What adjectives do your prospects, readers or audience use to describe individuals. Few adjectives are neutral. Most point to positive or negative viewpoints. I may describe a mutual friend as a blabber mouth. You may describe him as curious. I may describe him assertive. You may describe him as pushy.

The words we use say more about us than it does the people we refer to.

Group Judgments

The same biases we apply to individuals apply to groups as well. In fact, the words we use to describe groups point an even clearer picture on how we view the world. The language we use to present our opinions on groups often goes to further extremes than individuals.

That comes as no surprise to anyone who pays attention to politics.

Nobody in this world has a monopoly on “truth” so try and avoid using these devices as a means of judging people. It’s hard. I know. Put yourself in the observer’s position. It helps keep your independent perspective.