Episode 60: Tim David – It’s Not What We Say, But What They Hear: The Importance of the Impact of Words on the Human Brain
In this episode, we are joined by Tim David, professional speaker and best-selling author of Magic Words. Tune in as Tim shares the power of creating deeper human connections through words. Discover the difference between the speaking brain and the listening brain, and how you can take advantage of this knowledge.
Tim David 00:00
What I’ve learned and what fascinates me is once again as I travel around and as I speak to people, I hear this, “Tim, you know, gosh, your message resonates with us. Your message of using words to create deeper human connections really resonates with our industry because our industry is such a relationship business.” And I hear that all the time. “It’s such a relationship business” And I always kind of smack myself in the forehead and say, those words are redundant. You do not need the word relationship if you have the word business.
Bob Woods 00:38
Welcome to the Making Sales Social Podcast! Featuring the top voices in sales and marketing. Join hosts, Brynne Tillman and Bill McCormick as they discuss the best tips and strategies they are teaching their clients so you can leverage them for your own virtual and social selling. You can also listen to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Play. Here are your hosts, Brynne Tillman and Bill McCormick.
Bill McCormick 01:16
Hey, welcome to Making Sales Social! I’m Bill McCormick.
Brynne Tillman 01:19
I’m Brynne Tillman.
Bill McCormick 01:20
So Brynne, who’s joining us today?
Brynne Tillman 01:22
I’m so excited to have our next guest, Tim David. He was introduced to me through one of our favorite people, David Newman, and what I learned in a brief conversation around how the magic of words can absolutely be influential. I thought, man, our audience should learn from David, from Tim David. So Tim, welcome to our show!
Tim David 01:49
Thank you so much, Brynne, thank you, Bill, excited to be here. Excited to talk and share some of these strategies that I’ve been able to use and been able to teach people to use and implement very, very quickly for very quick results.
Bill McCormick 02:01
So just share with everyone just a little bit about you, got a couple of books in the background there and kind of your background.
Tim David 02:07
I do, yeah! I started out as a magician, obviously because, you know, my father was, uh, excuse me, my older brother became a sound engineer. My mother was an accountant. My father designed nuclear submarines for the Navy. So naturally, my career path was magician, which they loved. They loved that so much. It was like, you know, coming out.
Brynne Tillman 02:26
We’re proud of our son.
Tim David 02:28
Right they are now that’s the good news. They’re my biggest fans now. But I’ll tell you, there was a lot that I learned by being a magician, it is an amazing laboratory. The stage when you’re standing on stage and interacting with a live audience. And I learned that subtle shifts in my scripting, subtle changes, sometimes even one word, sometimes even one letter of one word, would increase or decrease the reaction that I got in a very predictable way from audiences. And I was able to test this and travel around the country. I’ve been to, you know, 48 states and a bunch of different countries and traveled all around performing my magic and mind-reading show, and comedy, we had a great time but I also was able to figure out the importance of the impact of words on the human brain and that set me on a path towards writing these books, “Penguin Random House” The biggest publisher in the world, picked up magic words and we’ve been off to the races ever since.
Bill McCormick 03:30
Amazing! Well, so as we get started the first question we ask all of our guests, we’re going to ask you now Tim. What does making sales social mean to you?
Tim David 03:38
Gosh… I love this question. You know, since becoming a speaker and author and sort of leaving the world of magic behind and switching gears towards teaching people how to use what I learned from the stage and from my experience, running a business, and again, writing and researching and interviewing psychological experts, and neuroscientists and all kinds of fun stuff. What I’ve learned and what fascinates me is once again, as I travel around, and as I speak to people, I hear this, “Tim, you know, gosh, your message resonates with us. Your message of using words to create deeper human connections really resonates with our industry because our industry is such a relationship business.” And I hear that all the time. It’s such a relationship business, and I always kind of smack myself in the forehead and say, those words are redundant. You do not need the word relationship If you have the word business, all business is relationship business. All business is social interaction, human connection, whether digitally or in person. There are ways that we can use the tools at our disposal to create deeper human connections as our priority, not creating influence as our priority because here’s what I also learned when influence is your goal, right? When persuasion is your goal, that’s when you start to feel inauthentic, that’s when manipulation might start to happen. However, if the human connection is your true goal and your honest goal, that’s where true influence truly comes from. So that is what I’m excited to share with your guests, the secrets behind how words can create that human connection. Want to know another secret? Can I give you one? (Brynne: Yeah, keep it coming). It is Revenge of the words time, it is Revenge of the word time. Back in the late 60s, this guy, Albert Mehrabian, was like, “Hey, you know what 67% of your communication is this and 35% of your communication is, and only 7% of the communication that you can deliver to another human being is via the words that you say.” So I called him up, and I interviewed him. And he told me, people blew that out of proportion, people started doing body language workshops and started talking about nonverbal communication, like it was, you know, like, you could watch the Spanish channel and understand 93% of what’s going on, even if you don’t understand Spanish, just by the body language and the nonverbal cues. So what he said was, that’s not what I meant. What I meant was the emotional response, the emotional reaction, so you can watch the Spanish channel and know who’s happy, who’s sad, who’s cheating on who, because that’s what I was on when I watched the Spanish channel is those Spanish soap operas. So that was an “Aha” moment for me because now we’re in this digital age. Now we’re in this time, where sometimes, all we have is a word on a screen. All we have is an email or a text message or something like that, and how often our messages misinterpreted, simply because we’re only using this tool that we have some of us sort of neglected, we haven’t dedicated the same time and energy and effort into understanding, not what we say, that’s not what matters. That’s when I was writing my scripts as a magician, I didn’t think about what am I going to say? And what’s the best thing to say? The only thing that matters, and especially in the world of magic, what I learned is perception is reality, right? I don’t really make things float people, I don’t really make things disappear. It is how we alter the perception of that event that creates that reality. And the same is true for words. The same is true for words. It’s not what we say. It’s what they hear. Now, here’s where it gets really tricky, guys.
Brynne Tillman 07:41
That was so freaking awesome! I just want to emphasize. We talk about this in content, stop sharing the content you want to share, and start sharing the content they want to consume. It’s the same thing with these words. So I want to emphasize it is not what you say. It’s what they hear. Tim, magic, keep going.
Tim David 08:07
Yeah, it’s not even how you say it. Sometimes It’s not what you say, It’s how you say it. No, it’s what they hear. And while you’re thinking about what you’re saying, and how you’re going to say it, guess what, that part of the brain that does the speaking is an entirely different biologically speaking, different part of the brain that does the listening. So very often, what we say is translated differently by the listening brain. So I’ll give you a quick example of this one of my favorites. In the video, over at magicwordsbook.com, you’ll see my book trailer video and I use this example. I say, if I were to say to you do not think of the word dog for the next 10 seconds, don’t even picture a dog. Right? It’s very difficult. The speaking brain understands that I said not to think dog. But how are we doing? How you doing Brynne? How you doing Bill?
Brynne Tillman 09:00
Lots of dogs!
Tim David 09:02
Not to dogs, right? Very, very possible. (Brynne: That was Good) That’s nice, very well done. So I’ve seen lots of examples of this used intentionally in marketing and saying things like when Tony Robbins said, “I am not your guru” that spoke a little bit to our brain. Like why would he say that If he wasn’t? If we were already thinking that and it almost creates the opposite effect. I’ve seen packages where this is not a makeup box. And that creates this curiosity. It is a box of makeup. Why are they saying it’s not a makeup box? You know, do not read this sign do not click on this link, you know those types of reverse almost reverse psychology. But what it has to do with is understanding how the brain processes language, how the brain processes words and using that to your advantage. So I’m not saying don’t ever say not to do something, but just understand how the brain makes the word, not me. magically disappear. Sometimes. I was on a plane once 35,000 feet in the air, and I hear this no joke word for word. Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking, I just want to let you know there is absolutely no cause for concern. Don’t be nervous. Like, how do you feel when your doctor says that? How do you feel when you’re kid’s teacher calls and says, “Hey, I’m just leaving a voicemail here. Don’t be nervous. Something happened at school today just would like to talk about it. Nothing bad. We’ll talk soon” You’re freaking out, right? It’s just how the brain processes language. So we must understand the difference between the speaking brain and the listening brain. And that is the area that disconnects, where we magicians, that’s our playground. That’s where we play the difference between sort of the perception and the reality, the intention, and the encoding. And the decoding of information is where a lot of these illusions can take place.
Bill McCormick 10:52
Such good, such good stuff. So as we’re talking, our audiences are mainly filled with sales leaders, and salespeople. And they’re using language a lot every day. They’re using written words every day in emails, and in LinkedIn messages and posts. So what are some tips you can give them for keeping this in mind? This idea of what we’re saying, but really, what the other side is hearing?
Tim David 11:21
You know, sometimes the takeaway here is that very often, it is counterintuitive. And that’s why I give that example of “Do not think of a dog” Intuitively, I’m telling you not to think of a dog. Whereas the reality is, it kind of made me think of a dog, my brain kept checking, am I thinking of a dog? Oh, crap, I just thought dog again, right. And so the way the brain works, makes that word not sometimes counterproductive to the message that you’re trying to send out. Now, here’s the cool thing about the word not, you can flip that. And you can use that to your advantage. So it is easier for people to say no or not, or negative responses than it is for them to say positive responses. So if you’re asking them for a meeting, rather than saying, Would you like to hop on a zoom today? You might instead change that to, would you be opposed to hopping on a zoom today? Because when they say no to that, they’re saying yes to your offer? And it’s easier for the brain to say no, because we’re used to saying, No, especially to salespeople more often, and it creates an easier sort of flow. Now I really want to address this point, Brynne, Bill. I know there are listeners right now hearing this, anytime I speak anywhere I go. And I start speaking about the power of words and making changes to the words that you say, people immediately think that it is manipulative, or that you’re somehow programming people’s brains or using some kind of hypnotic, you know, Mind Control techniques. But here’s the reality of the situation. And here’s another answer to your question, Bill, it isn’t so much that you’re manipulating people. Rather, you are more intentionally communicating, versus accidentally communicating. So when you understand the words that you say, and the impact that they have on people, you can be more authentic and more genuine versus I tried that and it didn’t work. I said this, but they got mad. I said this, but they said No, it’s the understanding of the response that they have that allows you to understand that “Hey, I am now being more authentic, not less authentic.”
Brynne Tillman 13:37
This is really incredible stuff but I am gonna make an assumption, which in our numbers was stupid, that our listeners because I’m one of them right now, as a listener is thinking, so how do I know what works and doesn’t work? How am I measuring the words that I mean, I guess you can see this word worked, but this word may not have but when I’m in conversation, or I’m sending an email, you know, how do I know what words change and what not words to leave alone?
Tim David 14:09
You know, there is a chapter in my book flip, which is behind me to four levels of influencing people. And there is a, there is a sort of formula, if you will, for writing an email, how to ask for something in an email. I may even have an article that’s available for free. Brynne, if we can put that in the show notes. Maybe I can give that away just so they can have more of a deep dive into that. I also know it’s at moreinfluential.com but I don’t know which link to play. So we’ll figure that out. We’ll get this into people’s hands. (Brynne: So can you just give us some tease on that). Absolutely. Absolutely. So the way is to yes, you can have a practice of learning what works and what doesn’t work and I absolutely positively 100% recommend having some kind of flow or outline script for any conversation that you have over and over again. So if you have a sales pipeline, if you have a sales channel, if you have a funnel, if you have a process, which conversations need to happen to get people to that sort of next level of the process, and how can you, as best you can systematize those conversations so that you can use your own data and continue to build your own data and find out what works and what doesn’t work. That’s ideal. That’s the ideal situation, to skip a little bit of that curve, that learning curve, that growth curve, you can obviously dive into best practices. Now for me, I interviewed neuroscientists, I took neuroscience courses, I took psychology courses, I read dozens and dozens and dozens of books, I obsessed over this stuff. And I wanted to find out what is going on in the minds of the people who are listening to my communication. So you know, we can find best practices, we can find the science behind that and the bad news is the science is done. We know. Right? As a species, we know. The problem is that information hasn’t quite been distributed. So I feel that’s a bit of my mission, and in life is to help people understand how people understand and how people communicate and how people connect. And obviously, it’s practical in sales. Obviously, it’s practical in leadership settings, obviously, it’s practical in parenting in all areas of life where communication happens. So best find best practices, begin with some kind of outline or script that you’ve used in the past. Take a look at it, take a fine-tooth comb, put it over it, and say, Okay, what am I really saying here? What am I really saying with these words? And you know, start to replace some of the… And it’s really easy to do an email because it’s because it’s not spoken. It’s written out. So in, you know, I can give you certainly a few tips for email, if you’d like we can talk about some of the magic words and how to apply them in email. Happy to talk about and take this in any direction that you want to go.
Brynne Tillman 17:00
Yeah, unfortunately, we don’t have too much time but I do want to get a few. I do want to share with you, we did kind of do this. So we did an AV test and we sent 100 people a link to really great content. Okay, and 19 clicks through. So we use something called a Smart Link, so I could see who clicked through, you could do a bitly too then we send 100 people permission to send the content, almost the same exact verbiage but “If you’re interested, let me know. I’m happy to send you a link” 69 requested it and 58 clicked through.
Tim David 17:38
I bet if you change the language, would you be opposed? If I sent you this? Versus would you like me to send you this I wonder what the results would be on that as well.
Bill McCormick 17:47
New test coming up!
Tim David 17:49
Right? new a beat test. I love beating controls. That is like my favorite pastime is finding someone’s control the thing that works the best for them and finding ways to improve that whether it’s you know, a fundraising letter or an email, sales script, or whatever it is. So, yeah, we can go into one.
Brynne Tillman 18:06
one email tip. One, like, drop the mic email tip.
Tim David 18:10
oh, it might be my favorite simply because it’s the neuroscience nerd in me. But there is this effect, and I’m gonna be the reporter here, Brynne, and Bill, I’m not gonna, I’m just the messenger of this information is going to make people angry. Okay. But here’s the truth of our brains. Did you know that people who are named Chris are more likely to prefer coke than Pepsi, simply because of the fact that it shares the first letter of their name. In fact, when coke put out their names on a bottle campaign sales increase for the first time in 11 years, because there is a magical property of someone’s name. If you are at a party, and you’re talking to someone, and you hear your name, often the distance in the corner, suddenly you pipe up, your brain has been listening to everything. However, it prioritizes the sound of your own name. So there are three different listening levels. Again, I interviewed another neuroscientist for this, and we talked about in the book magic words. But that’s it is literally an override, the sound of our name and how our name appears in print is an attention override. So here’s we’re going to start every email with Hi, so and so. And we’re going to use their name, but it’s going to get even better. Because not only are the soft drink preferences, influenced by our names, and this has been shown in like 28 different countries, all 1000s of people, so I just keep trying to repeat this. They keep doing because I think this can’t be true. And they do another experiment it keeps coming back true. If your name is Larry, you’re more likely to be a lawyer than a doctor. If your name is Dennis, you’re more likely to become a dentist. It’s like ridiculous. The effect if your name is Georgia, you’re 88% more likely to live in the state of Georgia than what relatives statistics would indicate. It blows me away even if you were born there, even if you weren’t born In fact, I mean, it’s story for another time. But when I was looking at places to live, I did spreadsheets. I looked at crime rates in school systems. I looked at real estate values and income tax and all of the different variables. I had a huge spreadsheet. And I ended up with Tennessee and Texas. My name is Tim, my wife did the same process. She said, The Carolinas Her name is Katie. She just bought an Acadia by the way car, and it’s crazy. But she said, I asked her like, why the Carolinas, it’s not the top of any of your charts and she said, I don’t know. It just feels like home. So and this is before we did the research, after we did after I did this research, I had to name my son, I’m like, Oh my gosh, the pressure, pressure. Like I will just name him Rich. That’s all we’ll do is just Okay. So here’s what else you can do. You can say to Tom, that your proposal is terrific. You can say to Frank that your proposal is fantastic. And in that email, you will commandeer their brains attention, whether they know it or not. And they will have a more favorable reaction to this, I can get into the neuroscience explanation of why this is true but again, I’m just the messenger. Just take my word for it. For now. The name is the most beautiful sound in any language that we’ve ever heard. And if you can remember and use people’s names, especially in email, and texting…(mic drop)
Brynne Tillman 21:20
Well, Tim, this was amazing. (Brynne: Tim, this was terrific) Oh, you did better than I did. Thank you very much.
Bill McCormick 21:32
Unfortunately, Tim, we’re coming down the end of our time. So how can folks stay in touch with you find out more about working with you?
Tim David 21:43
Yeah, I would say the best place is my home base, which is email@example.com. firstname.lastname@example.org because that’s what it’s all about. It’s not about the words. It’s not about the nonverbals it really is about the human connections behind what we do. And that is our most precious resource, especially today in the age of authenticity. Oh my gosh, take your digital stuff and make it human people. Make it human.
Bill McCormick 22:06
Amen. Amen. You’re speaking our language. So thanks so much for being with us. This was so good. For those of you that are listening. Thanks so much for spending time with us. And so thanks for watching this week and remember as you’re going in and about your day and week this week, don’t forget to make your sales social. We’ll see you next time. Bye-bye.
Bob Woods 22:22
Thanks for watching. And join us again for more special guest instructors bringing you marketing, sales, training, and social selling strategies that will set you apart. Hit the subscribe button below to get the latest episodes from the Making Sales Social Podcast! Give this video a thumbs up and comment down below on what you want to hear from us next. You can also listen to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Play. Visit our website socialsaleslink.com For more information.