"Omigawd, what did I just say?!"

Have you ever been surprised when you’re telling about the business, and suddenly the other person asks you, “Is this one of those things?” Or “Is this a pyramid?”

Did you know it’s probably something you said or showed them that triggered that image for them? Here’s a way to avoid tripping yourself up with the words you use (or show) when you’re talking about the business or product.

According to linguist and now political consultant George Lakoff, all words evoke certain images, or other knowledge. He refers to this as words evoking “frames” – shortcuts that help one relate what’s being said to what we have in our minds already, our worldview so to speak.

“Don’t think of an elephant!”
he challenges his students, in a book by the same name. And what do the students unwittingly do? In fact, cannot help BUT do? Yep. Promptly envision that big beast with the long trunk and big ears.

Lakoff notes how former President Nixon did himself in with the masses of “undecideds” when he spoke to a national TV audience – with one line:

“I am not a crook.”

Does anyone besides me remember that? Upon hearing that, everyone, says Lakoff, immediately thought about him as a crook.

MORAL: To “argue” or discuss something with the “other” side, says Lakoff, do NOT use their words, because that evokes THEIR images, not yours. And that’s exactly what you don’t want to do. Instead, you need words that evoke YOUR model of the thing you’re discussing – your idea of what this busines or product is.

First list of 5 things never to say ever again.

Ahem. Don’t fall over when you see these…just stop using them now that you know what they evoke in the minds of others…and that it isn’t what you want, like Lakoff points out.

1. “It’s not selling.” OR “We don’t sell.” (That one is both a lie, AND it immediately evokes whatever selling means to the other person, anyway.)

2. “It’s not a pyramid.” Evokes yes, the thing.

3. “It’s not mlm.” Evokes it.

4. “It’s not about throwing them up against the wall and see who sticks.” Evokes it.

5. “It’s not a get rich quick program.” You guessed it. Evokes the very thing.

Those are the obvious ones. So do not use words or phrases that you do not want to evoke in the mind of the listener.

Second list of 5 things never to say – the more subtle ones.

1. It’s easy, anyone can do it.

2. Everyone will want the product, it sells itself.

3. This is the best company out there

4. You can make big money fast.

5. All you have to do is go to your friends and family.

First, all of these are false. (The 95%+drop out rates is enough evidence of that.) But being false is enough reason not to repeat them, isn’t it?

But there are two more downsides. First, those who fall for them are inexperienced in business, or are having a weak mental moment. They drop out soon enough, leave with a bad taste, and become one of the multitude of the “biased against.”

Second, those with ANY real business experience, whom you DO want, will just laugh and know that yes, it’s one of those things, and you’re one of those people.

Evoke: To call to mind by naming, citing, or suggesting: songs that evoke old memories.

About the author

Kim Klaver


  • People are so busy with life that they feel they must categorize everything they hear. It doesn’t matter what you’re talking about. You have to be careful not to have your message misconstrued with a defintion your not intending. Be careful what you say and how you say it.

  • Begging to constructively differ and advance this post…

    Kim’s of course right with her 10-list and affirming ‘you need words that evoke YOUR model of the thing you’re discussing’.

    However, there’s a deeper issue here that could easily get lost in the mix… the root of which is that those ‘dumb things to not say’ are the result of an under-educated ‘workforce’ relying on outdated techniques which were always of limited effectiveness.

    As a marketer (and I mean ‘marketer’, not ‘network marketer’ – there’s one helluva difference) I consider it my job to pro-actively anticipate the likely reaction and deal honestly with likely objections arising therefrom.

    And, big point here… we should welcome objections – they’re a huge insight into the mind of ‘prospects’… and how we receive and deal with them says much about us too. [Can we be really objectively honest and open about our stuff?]

    In raising all pertinent issues we present a much stronger – and genuinely authentic – case. And ‘all those negative things’ really need to be assertively and honestly handled – not sidestepped.

  • Rik – Right you are. Easier said than done, huh?

    g: I hear you on the raising of the issues. Although to save time, I have always had the “I say ‘No’ first” attitude so I don’t spend time dragging the wrong ones across the finish line.

    Fine line between that and showing what is actually involved in the business, so they’re not thinking it easy and quick money, which is probably what you mean?

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