NDP Book Shelf: Words That Change Minds


Words That Change Minds: The 14 Patterns for Mastering the Language of Influence by Shelle Rose Charvet

A book review by Carrie Edwards

I love to read but I’m strictly a “read for entertainment” kind of person. Typically, I struggle to finish any kind of development books, because I get bored halfway through – I’m still trying to “find time” to finish a book on JavaScript that I bought a couple of years ago. I mention this to say that it took me literally HOURS to pick a book to read for this review because I knew that it had to be something that would interest me and hold my attention until the end. I’m pleased to say that this book totally delivered!

In Words That Change Minds, Ms. Charvet explains how to use the LAB (Language and Behavior) Profile to learn peoples’ thinking and motivation patterns which, in turn, allows us to “speak their language” with just the right amount of influence. The LAB Profile is a series of questions that you can ask during normal conversation. The goal is to pay attention to how someone talks when they answer instead of what they actually say. Ms Charvet says a person’s pattern will be evident in how they answer (or don’t) the question. When you learn the LAB Profile, you will know:

  • How to identify the patterns for a person (or group)
  • What language to use for maximum influence
  • How to apply the profile in any given context

The LAB Profile consists of 6 patterns that motivate people and 8 working traits. The motivation triggers tell you what people need to get excited about something and the working traits will tell you how someone deals with information (i.e. how they process information, tasks and environments that motivate them and how they are convinced) in a given context.

Motivation Triggers

  1. Level: Proactive vs. Reactive
  2. Criteria: Hot Buttons
  3. Direction: Toward vs. Away From
  4. Source: Internal vs. External
  5. Reason: Options vs. Procedures
  6. Decision Factors: reaction to and frequency of change

Working Traits

  1. Scope: Specific vs. General
  2. Attention Direction: Self vs. Others
  3. Stress Response: Feelings vs. Thinking
  4. Style: Independent, Proximity or Cooperative
  5. Organization: Person vs. Thing
  6. Rule Structure: who do you have rules for?
  7.    Convincer Channel: See, Hear, Do, Read
  8. Convincer Mode: Automatic, Consistent, Examples, Time

Ms. Charvet goes into great detail about each pattern and shares the appropriate influencing language (phrases and/or words) to use for each category. I enjoyed recognizing co-workers, friends, and even myself in many of the patterns. As you might imagine, it’s a good idea to learn your own motivation triggers and working traits because if you understand how you communicate, you will have an easier time determining others patterns and adapting your language to influence them. She details tons of ways to use these in everyday life, just a few examples from the book are to: resolve conflicts, tailor job descriptions to attract the “right” candidates, diagnose (and change, if necessary) corporate culture, build a high-performance team, negotiating and bargaining, and market research and teaching, just to name a few!

If you’re like me, right about now you’re thinking… what if I want to influence someone I don’t know (a potential client) and I don’t have an opportunity to ask any questions? Fear not, there’s a chapter on “Defaults Profiles” or what you can assume about people in certain situations. As a default, Ms. Charvet suggests assuming that any person (or group) you don’t know makes decisions based on their own internal standards (Source: Internal), are motivated to solve problems (Direction: Away From) and are never completely convinced (Convincer Mode: Consistent). This will allow you to use words that establish your credibility, to help them keep an open mind and to pay attention to any signs of disagreement or confusion so you can respond immediately.

We’ve all met someone that we had trouble communicating with – no matter what you said or how you said it, it was like talking to a wall, right? On the other hand, we’ve also met those with whom we just “clicked” – communication seemed effortless. This is because people respond immediately when you use “their language”. When I began, I was hoping I would learn how to influence people and communicate more effectively at work with clients. Now, I see endless possibilities – better communication with my kids, friends, family, co-workers, bosses, clients and more. There are so many areas in which this information will prove beneficial! I am super excited to start putting what I learned in this book into practice both at work and home – my goal is to get my kids to do all the dishes!

I’ll leave you with my first attempt at using influencing language: Only you can decide if Words That Change Minds will benefit you. You know your needs better than I do and once you start reading, I’m sure you’ll realize how much you can learn from this book!