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Linguistic weapons of mass persuasion

A vocabulary of influence can be an effective advantage for anti-fraud professionals when implemented ethically and with forethought. But fraudsters use linguistic tools, too. Learn how to recognize the difference between the two and not be fooled.

My early undergraduate study as a foreign language major plunged me into linguistics, semantics and phonetics — collectively referred to as rhetorical devices. I found these tools enhanced the importance of the underlying communication architecture of the languages I studied. Throughout my career as I progressed to higher levels of leadership, these rhetorical devices continued to influence my communication acumen.

The experience taught me that a sphere of influence radiates outward from what and how we are communicating. Developed and nurtured shared language enhances communication and collaboration whether it’s between individuals or across larger communities. Linguistic “weapons of mass persuasion” are agnostic; they work well for the principled individual and, unfortunately, the fraudster. The difference lies with intent of purpose.

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