When your goal is to be influential and get people on your side,  choosing your words carefully is critical if you want to shape the way people respond to you. Careful repackaging of words and expressions that for some could have negative connotations is a skill that can be developed.  And let’s face it, some words and expressions are simply superior to others because they do seem so much more positive.

  • Why talk about “overcoming problems” when you can “rise to a challenge”? Why “fight objections” when you can “address legitimate concerns”?
  • When it comes to numbers, “76 out of 100” is “more than three-quarters” and “49 out of 100” is “less than half”.
  • Do you want to “fire” people or “let them go”, talk about something that is “expensive” or “top of the range”?

This kind of repackaging – downplaying the negatives and upweighting the positives – is a legitimate rhetorical technique and can help you to make a favourable impression.

However, the technique comes with a health warning attached. Remember there are some people out there who simply appreciate it when you call a spade a spade. If you make every negative a positive, they will soon see through your technique and switch off. Most importantly, The Training Box advises using this technique with “Win/Win” in mind and not with a view to manipulating. It is appropriate when whatever it is you want to persuade people about truly has benefits for them or when plain speaking could lead to disastrous consequences or unproductive, heightened emotions.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like to read  “The language of influencing”.