I’m kinda afraid to admit this…
But here we go:
The other night, my girlfriend and I stayed up until 4 am by accident.
We were watching this highly addicting, and admittedly stupid game show called Bullsh*t The Gameshow.
It’s a new trivia game show on Netflix starring Howie Mandell.
Here’s the gist of the game:
There are four competitors in each game.
Howie asks one person trivia questions, and they must answer them. However, this person doesn’t have to get the answer right to advance in the game and potentially win more money.
After they answer, they’re shown whether they answered right or wrong.
Then, they must convince, persuade, or bullshit the other 3 contestants that they got the answer right — whether they actually got it right or not. And then the other 3 contestants vote whether they were lying through their teeth or telling the truth.
(And at the end of the round, the contestant who most accurately called bullshit or no bullshit gets to be the one answering trivia with a chance to win one million dollars.)
Like I said, it’s stupid.
But it’s also a genius idea for a game show, especially a trivia game show. I love the contrast embedded in it — you can win a million dollars by answering every trivia question wrong.
One contestant was advancing through their round with a mix of bullshit and correct answers.
But one of the “Bullshit police” contestants caught onto a “tell” which predicted if the main contestant was lying or not.
What was this tell?
The use of “weasel words.”
Weasel words are words that scream “I’m manipulating you.”
And copywriters use them all the time.
The example the “bullshit police” contestant gave was:
“According to studies…” and other related examples like “research shows,” “experts say,” or “according to fact-checkers.”
(“Experts say” and “according to fact-checkers” are fan-favorites for the corporate media. In fact, I just saw a headline claiming Amber Heard took the edge against Johnny Depp, “experts say.”)
Whenever the trivia contestant used one of these phrases to explain his answer, he was lying.
But some other examples copywriters use include…
* Adverbs (especially when they annoyingly use adverbs almost every other word in their sentence – kinda like how I did inside the parentheses)
* Using NLP ninja tactics
NLP stands for “neuro linguistic programming.” And it’s something you see all the time in the world of sales and copywriting.
One example is getting someone to commit to small, little “yeses” and then building on these until you manipulate the other person into buying (even against their will).
* Using passive voice
Passive voice is another telltale sign someone’s trying to manipulate you.
Overselling is when you’ve sold someone, but then you keep on blabbering and end up stealing defeat from the jaws of victory.
And there are other examples.
But here’s the point:
While copywriters and salesmen weaponize weasel words, if your audience catches on…
They will never trust you again.
And trust is a prerequisite to persuasion, cully.
Moral of the story?
Avoid weasel words as much as you can.
Remember: if you’re telling the truth, you don’t need to use adverbs, NLP tactics, passive voice, or any other kind of weasel word.
Wanna make more sales with email without even lifting a finger to type a word?