The five words that can swing a meeting in your favour

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15 Οκτ 2013 (πριν από 4 χρόνια και 9 μήνες)

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The five words that can swing a meeting in your favour

Nick Heath

June 25, 2013, 6:27 AM PDT

ay: Frustrated your ideas go unheard in meetings? Academics have identified the five words
successful managers use to win backing for their proposals.

Everybody’s sat in a meeting where they felt like they were talking but nobody was listening.

But what if

there were a sure fire way to get your colleagues to take notice? Researchers at
Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management examined what language is
most likely to win over peers when used in meetings.

After applying “machine lear
ning algorithms” to a “very large amount of meeting data” they identified the
words most commonly used to gain support for proposals or take the lead in discussions.

These were “yeah, give, start, meeting” and “discuss”.

The word may ‘yeah’ seems surprisin
g as a persuasive word, but, said professor Cynthia Rudin, “when
we looked at the way people were using it, we found they were using it to show agreement with
something that someone else previously said. Perhaps if you frame a suggestion as if it were in
greement with others, it’s more likely to be accepted.”

While ‘yeah’ was most frequently used to garner approval, ‘meeting’ was most often successfully used
to shut down discussion of a topic, she said.

“For instance, someone might say, ‘Maybe this is some
thing for the next meeting,’ as a way of gently
moving the topic onward without causing offence. That suggestion was almost always accepted,” she

Rudin and a PhD student Been Kim, said they were also able to identify when key decisions were being
e in meetings based on the combination of information provided or requested, and the mix of
suggestions, acceptances or rejections.

“This would be useful when listening to a previously recorded meeting and you want to fast forward to
the key decision. Or,
it might help managers be more efficient if they could be automatically alerted to
join a meeting when a decision is about to be made,” said Rudin.

The research also found little evidence to support the idea that managers dish out “compliment
where they soften the blow of bad news or a criticism by nestling it between positive

“We’re just at the beginning of finding ways to use machine learning to produce tools for more efficient
meetings. Since everyone wants their ideas accepted,
it’s worth considering word choice in proposals.
You don’t want to undermine your idea by not using the right language,” said Rudin.