Any Message That Isn’t Deliberately Persuasive Is Wasted

Kenneth L. Pike

“If language did not affect behavior, it could have no meaning.” – Kenneth L. Pike, Born Jun. 9, 1912.

There are a buncha idiots out there who frown upon the use of language for deliberate persuasive aim.

You know them. They hate commercials. They think marketing is evil. They probably brag about not owning a tv. That kind of asshole.

But here is the truth: all language alters behavior. All of it. Every single message ever uttered or scrawled will make the recipient move in a different way than they would have before. Maybe not much differently – that's where the skill comes in, obviously. But it DOES all have an effect.

And if you're not doing that on purpose when you create any kind of message, you're making something meaningless.

Even something seemingly simple and purely altruistic like say, a thank you note… Make that shit persuasive.

You DO want an outcome. You don't just want the words “thank you” to plop out onto the card and express nothing true.

CONVINCE the recipient to also receive your heartfelt gratitude. Make them choke on it. Bring a tear to their eye. Interrupt their day with a unexpected burst of emotion that will alter every thought and decision that comes after.

“Without your encouragement and kindness, my failures might well have ended my desire to carry on. But your interest and attention kept me on the path, and anything great I manage to do now and in the future is dedicated at least in part to you. Thank you, truly.”

Is that not better? (I don't know, I'm just a lizard person pretending to have human emotions.). But you get the idea, right?

Language affects behavior. Even if it's just to alter a mood, even just slightly. Write and speak with intention. Know the goal. Know the desired outcome and write toward it.

Otherwise you're wasting air and ink and paper and just generally being a worthless, meaningless kind of burden on whoever you're trying to bother with your noise.

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