words at work by lynda mcdaniel
Have you ever sat down at a café just as the kid at the next table lets loose with a string of whys “Why do
I have to drink my milk?” “Why do
the waiter’s hands shake?” “Why can’t
I run around the tables?” This scenario
repeats itself millions of times a day
in department stores, in schoolrooms,
on street corners. “Why can’t I cross
the street now?” the kid asks, his hand
twisting defiantly in his father’s grip.
Meanwhile, Dad is thinking, Oh, I
can’t wait until he outgrows this.
Oh, but he never will. Sure, he’ll
quiet his incessant whine of whys,
but we’re all programmed to wonder
and question. Just because we now
carry briefcases instead of a basketball or wear pinstripe suits instead of
striped T-shirts doesn’t mean we stop
asking why. That question is at the
core of every invention, solution and
In fact, the answer to why—
because—has been scientifically proven
to be the most persuasive word in our
vocabulary. Not the “because I said so”
What’s in it for me?
Audiences stop reading if they don’t see the benefit.
These five techniques persuade readers to stick with you
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
—George Bernard Shaw