Navigate / search

Change Your Words to Change People: Persuasive Power Words

Josh: What type of person do you think of when you hear “persuasion expert”? I think of a slick, six-foot American in a suit wearing a Rolex watch.

Michael Lee is the guest author of this post and a persuasion expert fitting no stereotypes. He is Asian, small, and prefers casual dress. He use to give out money at school knowing he would not get it back, be afraid of people, be single, and get turned down from jobs because he was a wuss in interviews. You can learn a lot from him on how to become a stronger, persuasive person.

Some people go about life, blissfully unaware of the subtle influences other people put on them. The art of persuasion is used everywhere. While some people use persuasion techniques to sell you a product, others try to get a date or try to get you to join their religion.

Having an awareness of the many persuasion techniques around you can prove to be one of your biggest assets. It can help you deal with strangers, your personal life, and your work life. Learning the art of persuasion can be the difference between meeting your life goals and falling short.

Common persuasion techniques include creating needs in others, which can be basic or social needs. Another technique includes the use of certain powerfully persuasive words. Both will be discussed in this article.

Social Needs

Perhaps one of the most important persuasion techniques is to create a social need. An example of a social need is the need to be popular and have everyone like you. Many would say this is unimportant in life; however, it drives many people to do certain behaviors. You probably wouldn’t be reading this article otherwise.

In the area of television, a commercial might use the example of a need to be popular by convincing you to purchase a product to fit in with peers. Let’s imagine a teenager suffers from acne (I know it’s tough, but try to imagine it). A commercial comes on and shows a picture of someone all alone with acne. They then skip to the same person with a clear face surrounded by friends. The television-bound teenager may then wish to purchase the product to rid his or her acne and acquire more friends.

What Do You Really Say?

The art of using persuasive power words can create social needs. It is also a top persuasion technique to get people doing what you want. Persuasive words are used by pretty much anyone who try elicit a certain behavior from another. You will find examples of this technique on television, labels, and print advertisements.

Advertisers use words such as new, natural, and free. These three words are known to get the consumer’s attention – and that is exactly what the advertisers want! Advertising legend David Ogilvy found additional words to be super effective at getting people to do what a company wants:

  1. Discover
  2. Proven
  3. Magic
  4. Announcing
  5. Easy
  6. Revolutionary
  7. Amazing
  8. Now
An awareness of the many persuasion techniques around you can prove to be one of your biggest assets.

These words appeal to you as you read them. Simply use these words in everyday language to be more persuasive.

While these words can be effective to persuade someone because they have strong meanings people understand, other words are more complex. You may not be aware of it, but the words you utter daily can have different interpretations, even if you think their meaning is monotonous.

Would you rather someone say you are “slim”, or would you like to hear that you are “thin”? Being slim has a slight positive connotation to it because it is attributed to health and fitness.

Rather than saying you have failed, mention you have not yet achieved success. Get the picture? Select words that have the most positive manner you can think of.

Your repairman doesn’t just repair, he saves lives from electrical threats. Make him aware of that. Your chef doesn’t just cook, she eliminates hunger and satisfies taste buds. Don’t tell teachers they are teaching young kids because it’s their job. That’s a lifeless statement. Instead, tell them they are training and mentoring the future leaders of the world. Wouldn’t that fulfill their social needs of importance more effectively? Absolutely!

Are you becoming aware of the power of these subliminal persuasion techniques? You can say “nicer” terms in lieu of the original “boring” or “negative” words. This increases your likability and can positively affect people’s emotions. Take these as further examples:

  1. Say, “sanitation engineer” instead of “garbage collector” and you’ll get better service from him.
  2. Say, “We have a challenging situation at hand” instead of “We have a big problem” to reduce anxiety.
  3. Say, “You’re getting slim” instead of “You’re becoming thin” to boost the person’s self-esteem who will then see you as a nice person.
  4. Say, “You’re often late for work and you seldom finish the task on time. Is something bothering you?” instead of “You’re always late for work and you never finish your task on time!” The words “always” and “never” are often harsh and exaggerated; “often” and “seldom” are more subtle and do not convey the person does the irresponsible act all the time.
  5. Say, “You could have given him a chance” instead of “You should have given him a chance.” “Could have” implies that he had a choice, which could then serve as a moral to make better decisions in the future. On the other hand, “should have” attacks the ego and sounds like a forced thing to do. (Josh: Words like “should” and “ought” form what I call a moralizing communication barrier in my communication secrets program.)

How to Use Words to Instill the Qualities You Want in People

Never compare the negative qualities of one person with another.

A former boss of mine said this to me when I made an error in my previous day job: “James is doing a much better job than you are. He’s not committing any mistakes like you do.”

That crushed my heart. My boss thought this would motivate me to do better. Nope, it just hurt my feelings and lowered my self-esteem. It was a harsh scolding.

Experiences arising from discouragement and condemnation negatively effect the recipient whether the words are intended to do so or not.

Some parents might believe that instilling fear in children improves their performance. They tell a child, “You’re always failing. Why can’t you be like your brother? You’re such a disgrace to this family.”

Those statements are a disgrace. Parents must inspire, encourage, and motivate their children; not belittle them. They should tell their children that they have the capacity to achieve great things if they put a little more effort. Teach them values to make them feel important and loved.

Give them confidence and belief they have certain characteristics, and they will eventually acquire such traits.

Persuasive Power Words and Techniques

Here are further persuasive power words and techniques you can use more often in your language to persuade people:

  • Because. Studies show that providing a reason why something is done increases compliance.
  • If…Then. We like to feel in control of our behavior and know the expected outcome if we choose to comply. If you want someone to take action, then give the person an expected outcome to excite them.
  • Guaranteed, absolutely, automatically, and definite. Any time you can promise a result, do so. (Please use these power words – like every other one – only to tell the truth, not to deceive people.)

You can even give them qualities they do not yet possess. Give them confidence and belief they have certain characteristics, and they will eventually acquire such traits. Change your words and you’ll be surprised at how you change people. Tell them how bright you think they are, and you will soon be surprised at the results. They will significantly improve if you firmly make them believe they have the capacity for improvement.

(Josh: Research recently proved this point. Some teachers were told their new class performed well last year. This made the teachers expect the students to perform well. The teachers with such expectations had “good” and “bad” students achieve higher marks than classes where the teachers had no optimistic expectations.)

If you ever want to persuade or encourage someone to do better, make sure he or she is motivated out of inspiration, not fear. Give advice that cares; not offensive words borne from hatred or anger.

Think first before you speak. Many relationships have been ruined by the wrong choice of words. Some people voice anything that comes to their mind without first filtering the good words from the bad ones. This might result in misunderstandings and arguments, which could easily be prevented if we speak in a neutral and non-offensive way.

Words are powerful indeed. The right words are a strong subliminal persuasion technique, so be careful in your choice of them. “Think twice before you speak,” said Napoleon Hill author of Think and Grow Rich, “because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.”

To discover more persuasive techniques used by the experts so you can make people do what you want, get my complete online training for less than the cost of a night out by clicking here.

Enjoyed this article?
Never miss a tip
Instantly get new articles and bonus tips for free (about once a month) by signing up to the newsletter:

Michael Lee

Michael Lee is a master persuader, professional copywriter, self-improvement expert, and author of How To Be An Expert Persuader... In 20 Days or Less. His persuasion course has helped tens of thousands of people to win more friends, captivate the opposite sex, instantly get liked and trusted, and change others way of thinking. Learn more here.



The article is a really good one! I appreciate the kind of work you are doing.


Hey josh! Another article from your colleague has struck me in the eye. Can’t help but blink and realize that a speck of a word may cause heartache and headache. I hope to use these techniques in our upcoming convention involving doctors – to help us not only in the practice of medicine but also in the art of public speaking. In our language – Salamat po!


I can definitely use this to increase my people skills. Wonderful article!!!


It’s really wonderful and interesting. I loved it. From now i hope to employ this technique and skills to keep me in motion since I am a leader in my community!!! Keep up the spirit.


Dear Josh,
Another jewel in the crown !!! It’s all so simple yet how seldom practised!.Some motivating words can really make one’s day and you a blazing practitioner of this simple yet invaluable art.


Michael, thanks for the article.
You know there are situations where soft words shouldn’t be apply? like lateness, and you know lateness slows down productivity, efficiency and unable to meet target lines. So, if management do not use harsh words to query the latecomers or voice out their feelings, they would contribute the habit of coming to work late.


Soft words break no bones but breaks hard hearts. It definitely brings a smile on one’s face which is a path to success. 😆


Hey!!This article inspired me to think of the good words before I speak. Words u say to others surely will give impact on them.


It’s just great, I hope to be able to use these kind words with every one, especially with my kids.

steven chikuse

Hi Josh,great article.Its what i really needed because am a Team Leader at work.
Thanks again!