Not so much ‘what’ you say, but ‘how’ you say it

Chris Cooke (Context Consulting, 500 Chiswick High Road, London)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Publication date: 1 April 1998


Whenever people enter an interaction, listen to a briefing or read an article they unconsciously form opinions about the person or people initiating the communication and the nature and credibility of the communication itself. Based on these opinions, people form an attitude towards communicator and communication, and that attitude will dictate whether they believe what is being said, whether they trust the communicator's judgment, and whether they offer any feedback. More often than not these opinions are not based on the content of the message being delivered, nor on the types of channel it is being delivered through, or on any informed knowledge about the initiator. The opinions are based on other factors — the communicator's mannerisms, the way they look, and the kind of language they use. This paper will look at how such opinions are affected by the language used in communication. It will draw on a number of linguistic studies that illustrate this process in action and will demonstrate, through a case study, how manipulating this process can help to build more effective corporate communication.



Cooke, C. (1998), "Not so much ‘what’ you say, but ‘how’ you say it", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 3 No. 2, pp. 180-186.

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Copyright © 1998, MCB UP Limited

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