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The Most Persuasive Word You Can Use in a Meeting is “Yeah”

Image via Monkey Business Images/

Words have power, especially in meetings. A new study from MIT’s Sloan School of Management finds that saying “yeah”, “give”, “start” and even “meeting” can boost a person’s persuasive powers among co-workers.

Statisticians Cynthia Rudin and Been Kim studied 95 meetings for the vocabulary used in proposals that were accepted by the group. They concluded that the most persuasive words are those that build consensus.

“Yeah” signals agreement with a previous idea, the authors posit. Using the word “start” in sentences like “I think we should start with the basics” is useful for building early alliances early; group participants want to appear interested in being productive. The word “give” indicates some benefit to the group. (As in, “This would give us market share.”) The word can also suggest that an idea is based on prior knowledge. For example: “Given speech recognition, I think you should go for the less fancy chip.”

Read more at Quartz.

Image via Monkey Business Images/

Lily Kuo is a reporter at Quartz covering emerging markets. She previously reported general news for Reuters. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong and the China Post in Taiwan. She holds a dual master’s degree in international affairs from Peking University and the London School of Economics. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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