Words That Change Minds Summary
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Words That Change Minds Summary | Shelle Rose Charvet

Book Summary of Words That Change Minds: The 14 Patterns For Mastering The Language Of Influence by Shelle Rose Charvet

Life gets busy. Has The Words that Change Minds: The 14 Patterns for Mastering the Language of Influence been gathering dust on your bookshelf? Instead, pick up the key ideas now.

We’re scratching the surface here. If you don’t already have the book, order it here or get the audiobook for free on Amazon to learn the juicy details and support the author.

Shelle Rose Charvet’s Perspective

Charvet is a world authority on human resources.

She has worked with UNESCO, CERN, Nokia, Microsoft, IBM and the World Bank. Charvet later established a global HR consulting and training institute.

She isn’t a researcher but a natural communicator who can get along with everybody. 

When you read her book, you’ll feel as if she’s conversing with you one-on-one. The things she’s discussing are more complicated than she makes them sound. Yet, she encourages you to take the initial steps with the necessary tools provided.

What is Words That Change Minds about?

Introduction to Words That Change Minds and The LAB Profile

Only a handful of books have the power to change the way you interact with others and influence them. Words that Change Minds is one of them.

The book is based on the Language and Behavior Profile (LAB Profile) created by Rodger Bailey. It is a tool that highlights how unique each individual is and can help you predict, understand, and influence someone’s behavior by identifying what motivates them, how they think, and how they make decisions.

Scientists studying Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) developed personality archetypes in the 1970s to describe how people communicate. Biological and environmental factors constitute the programming part of NLP. They determine how we program ourselves to perform well or poorly at certain tasks. How people communicate verbally provides insight into how they think neurologically. By using NLP, you can gain a better understanding of how people make decisions, including how to build rapport with them and how to help them overcome their limiting beliefs. 

Based on the NLP research, the book covers 14 different “LAB Profile Pattern” types. These patterns describe what triggers and maintains someone’s interest in a given situation, and on the other hand, what demotivates them. For example, if you prefer to take initiative at work, you may soon become frustrated if you are forced to wait for a long time.

It is much easier to have a motivated team member or to re-engage a former customer by identifying what they need and meeting their requirements.

In a given situation, LAB Profile Patterns describe what someone prefers. They reflect a person’s motivation and behavior and are not a personality profile, so as people’s behavior and motivation change depending on the context, so will their LAB Profile Patterns.

Context is king. When someone is on vacation, their patterns are probably different from those when they are in the office, or while buying groceries. 

There are two kinds of LAB Profile Patterns:

1. Patterns of Motivation: These describe how people get motivated and what it takes to get them interested.

2. Patterns of Productivity: These describe people’s internal mental processes, what makes them productive and how they become convinced of something.

There are six motivation patterns and eight productivity patterns. The motivation patterns are: Level, Direction, Criteria, Source, Reason and Decision Factors. The productivity patterns are: Scope, Attention Direction, Stress Response, Style, Organization, Rule Structure, Convincer Channel and Convincer Mode.

The book will help you detect and expect language in everyday conversation. You will learn how other people would behave in a specific circumstance. You will also learn how to influence people’s opinions as you speak using your personal traits.

Words That Change Minds is a must-read when it comes to career coaching, recruitment, identifying corporate culture, training, negotiations and even parenting.

StoryShot #1: Two Motivation Attribute Patterns Will Get You Going And Thinking

Using appealing language and avoiding upsetting language will help you influence people. In reality, “Influencing Language” is about choosing the words that will have the greatest impact. Different people have different motivations. Explore these categories of motivation patterns to influence people: Level, Criteria and Direction.

The Level category means identifying whether you or someone else is proactive or reactive. These two unique motivation attributes may both get you going and thinking. 


People with a Proactive pattern take initiative. They tend to behave impulsively and without careful consideration. They may irritate some people because they charge ahead and disregard other people’s feelings. Likewise, they may be seen as “bulldozers.”

“Proactive” people have a knack for getting things done on the front lines. These people don’t sit back and wait for others to take the lead.


People with a Reactive pattern enjoy waiting for others to start or for the proper conditions to arise. They contemplate and ponder without taking any action. They want to completely comprehend and evaluate the problem first. Likewise, they may wait for a long time.

These people may aggravate Proactive people because they take their time before acting. When they’re at their most extreme, they exercise extraordinary care. They research every detail of a scenario. Hence, they’re skilled at analyzing data.

People generally fall somewhere along the proactive-reactive spectrum at work. Your keywords will influence whether you attract proactive or reactive candidates when you advertise a new job opportunity. A proactive candidate will respond to “take the initiative,” or “take the lead,” whereas a reactive candidate will respond better to “you might want to consider,”, “once you’ve analyzed it,” or “let’s think it through.”

About 60% of people are both Reactive and Proactive.

StoryShot #2: Certain Words Known As “Criteria” Cause A Physical And Emotional Reaction

People describe their values in a given context through Criteria. 

Setting Criteria is about distinguishing between good and bad. They are “Hot Buttons” that determine what is dreadful, evil, or good. 

Criteria are words, phrases and images that elicit a strong physical and emotional response. They are tied to a string of emotionally associated life experiences. Criteria can be positive or negative. Seeing or hearing our Criteria leads to an emotional or physical response.

None of us can agree on a single definition for each Criterion. It is impossible to put a Criterion into a single box. 

Market researchers typically look into people’s preferences to tailor marketing efforts. If you want someone’s attention, you must relate your message to their Criteria.

StoryShot #3: Two Motivation Directions Influence The Ability To Achieve Goals

As for Direction, people either move “Towards” their goals or “Away From” their problems or a negative consequence. 


People with a Toward pattern focus on what they want rather than what they lack. Their desire drives them to get something.

Toward-oriented people can prioritize well. They see the big picture. Achieving a goal energizes them.

On the downside, they may not see what should be avoided or what is wrong. Others may consider them naive if they go too far and ignore potential issues.

Away From

Those with an Away From pattern prioritize avoiding and eliminating. They are triggered by an issue or something they want to avoid.

Threats and deadlines energize these people.

People with an Away From pattern are adept at spotting potential snags. They can help resolve issues and identify possible stumbling blocks.

Yet, they may struggle to focus on their goals due to their impulsive nature. This is the kind of person who will drop everything to fix something that’s broken. They lose sight of priorities and only deal with crises. If this person is in charge of a department or an organization, crisis management may be the norm. They may struggle with prioritization because they tend to focus on the negative. 

The Toward people can perceive Away From people as jaded or cynical.

Use verbal and body language to identify Direction. Words such as “gain, achieve, get, have, goals” are common in the Towards language. On the other hand, people with Away From pattern use words such as “gotten rid of” or “situations to be avoided.”

StoryShot #4: Two Motivation Patterns Influence Our Judgments And Decisions

People use two Source patterns to make judgments and decisions. How do we judge? Is it internal or external? 


An inner drive drives Internal people. Their work standard is up to them. They have trouble accepting other people’s opinions or following directions. They often question those who criticize their works. They act on their own.

They can collect data and make internal judgments. They seldom seek approval or praise from other people, so they perform poorly at giving feedback as managers. 

To soften the extreme Internal pattern, use language such as “as you probably know,” and then state what you are unsure they know. Or say “you may want to consider” and “others have done this,” and then provide examples.


To fuel their motivation, externals seek the opinions of others, feedback, and directions from outside. They may be unaware of their performance if they don’t receive feedback at work. It’s always as if you’re giving them directions.

External people like it when others make decisions for them. They need external support to start or continue an activity. They always seek affirmation, feedback, or results. Many people in this mode struggle to change habits or behaviors.

StoryShot #5: Two Patterns Affect Our Reasoning

People show two patterns when it comes to their Reason. The Reason category describes how a person reasons: One is in constant search of new solutions (preferring countless choices and sometimes struggling to choose one option). The other prefers to stick to established rules (having a clear step-by-step process to complete).


People with an “Options” pattern require new ways of doing things. They can always find a better way to achieve their goals.

The Options people enjoy creating systems. But they are not as keen on following them. 

Options people can’t help breaking or bending the rules. They are excited to start anew. But they may be unmotivated to maintain or finish a project.

They may be reluctant to commit due to uncertainty. They may even make no decisions.


Procedures people prefer detailed step-by-step instructions. They believe in a correct way to do things. They can repeat the procedure once they’ve figured it out. Instead of asking why something is the way it is, they focus on the mechanics.

Without a process, a Procedure person becomes disoriented or frustrated. They always strive to finish a process they started.

Procedure people tend to be perfectionists. Telling them they can break certain rules may offend them. 


The book is intended for the workplace. It will not help you create rapport in your (purely) social circles. Relationship building is not the same as influencing someone you met at a bar.

Even though the content is presented in a fun manner, it reads like a textbook to many. It comes with in-depth explanations and NLP jargon required for the LAB. Various checklists, examples, definitions, forms, and templates are made available. 

An important theme in the book is to use your particular traits to influence others. Yet, humans are far too complex to be analyzed with only a few questions and answers. Hence, while it is a beautiful concept, it is more difficult in practice.


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This article is an unofficial summary and analysis.

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Words That Change Minds Summary
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One Comment

  1. Thanks so much for your kind words and excellent summary of my book!
    I have updated Words that Change Minds with 50% new material, including how brain research supports these patterns.
    Available on Amazon.

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