Words That Work Book Summary - Words That Work Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

Words That Work summary

Frank Luntz

It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear

4 (129 ratings)
19 mins
Table of Contents

    Words That Work
    Summary of 7 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 7

    Similar words can prompt different reactions among different people – effective communication is about considering your audience.

    Have you ever found yourself in a situation where your words were totally misinterpreted? Have you thought you were saying one thing only to find the other person heard something entirely different?

    If this has happened to you, there are likely some flaws in how you communicate; that is to say, your words have failed you. But you’re not alone. In fact, flawed language habits are so widespread that we encounter misunderstandings in everything from politics to business to everyday life.

    This is the case because everyone has a different understanding of words. As such, two different words that technically denote the same thing can elicit entirely different reactions.

    For instance, “welfare” and “assistance to the poor” essentially mean the same thing. But if you ask Americans, only 23 percent will say that the country is spending too little on welfare, while 68 percent think there is too little “assistance to the poor.”

    Clearly, different ways of communicating the same idea hold contrasting connotations. So, while “welfare” conjures up images of “welfare queens” and wasteful government spending, “assistance to the poor” reminds people of charity and Christian compassion.

    Effective communication isn’t about your message or what your words objectively mean, but rather how people understand them. It’s essential to consider your audience’s preconceptions, especially their beliefs and fears.

    Take the English novelist George Orwell, who knew this well and whose famous book 1984 played on the deep personal fears of his readers.

    For instance, one passage describes “Room 101” as a place where one is confronted with her greatest fears. Since the fears of every reader are different, Room 101 became associated with the personal nightmares of any given reader.

    But how can you make sure your message is understood as you intended? In the next blinks, you’ll learn more about the main pillars of exceptional communication.

    Want to see all full key ideas from Words That Work?

    Key ideas in Words That Work

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is Words That Work about?

    Words That Work (2007) is a guide to getting your point across more efficiently and effectively. These blinks explain the power of language and how it can help you in any number of situations, from business to political discussions to getting out of a traffic ticket.

    Best quote from Words That Work

    Its not what you say, its what people hear.

    —Frank Luntz
    example alt text

    Who should read Words That Work?

    • Anyone who wants to communicate more effectively
    • Academics interested in the hidden power of language

    About the Author

    Dr. Frank Luntz is a renowned pollster and public opinion guru who regularly works as a communications consultant for American politicians. He has led over 1,500 surveys and focus groups, and has contributed to numerous political and corporate campaigns.

    Categories with Words That Work

    Books like Words That Work

    People ❤️ Blinkist
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked

    Start growing with Blinkist now
    28 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    Of Blinkist members create a better reading habit*
    *Based on survey data from Blinkist customers
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial