Book Review: Magic Words by Tim David

What can a magician teach you about business?  A Lot, it turns out. To quote the author:

It’s pretty hard to be a leader if no one is following. If you want to move mountains you need to be able to move people…Most people try to motivate others by begging, bribing, and reasoning them to death. When that doesn’t work, they get desperate and start nagging, manipulating, or deceiving to get the results they want….This is a book about words that turn into action…

Magic WordsThe seven magic words are: Yes, But, Because, Their Name, If, Help, and Thanks.

The book readily acknowledges that you really cannot motivate someone else, but you can create connections through the correct use of these words (and easily break connections through their improper use).

This book is actually a great supplement to the book I recently reviewed: Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work. In that book Susan Fowler states that people are looking for autonomy, relationship and competence.  Tim David’s book plainly lays out how our language affects our relationships at work and in life.

Today I put one of his concepts into practice. The first word Tim David discusses is “yes” and he illustrates the power of positivity. So, what about when you must say no? Today I declined to write a letter of recommendation. I turned to the book, especially regarding the the use of the word “but”. I learned not to say “You are great, but I can’t do it”. Rather I said “I can’t do it, but I know you have a lot of great qualities. I am declining because my recommendation would work against you are here’s why…”

I am curious to see if these subtle changes will help to us maintain a mutually positive relationship. One unexpected benefit was that in concentrating on how to say no, it was much easier for me to actually say no.


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