Stop Saying “Thank You,” and Other Conversational Tips From the Trump University Playbook

“I noticed you lost the U.S. Open.” 

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

How did Trump University sell its lackluster educational programming to thousands of customers? In part, by using a detailed glossary of winning syntax.

Some of the language in Trump U’s sales playbooks seems to presage the tone of Trump’s presidential campaign. Most of it, though, served as a template for Trump University employees looking to get the upper hand in their dealings with prospective customers.

In this illustrative example, the Trump U playbook explains that saying “thank you” is a sign of weakness.


While these language lessons were designed for those selling educational products, we figured they might contain helpful hints that all of us could use in our daily lives. Below, we’ve collected actual advice from the Trump University playbooks and explained how you can deploy it in casual conversation. (If you’d like to learn more, please inquire about our Winning Syntax Elite program.)


Trump says: “Substitute the words thank you with congratulations.
Old you: “Thank you so much for coming to my birthday party!”
New you: “Congratulations on making it to my birthday party!”

Trump says: “The most persuasive words in the English language … are: You, New, Money, Easy, Discovery, Free, Results, Health, Save, Proven, Guarantee, and Love. They share three characteristics: they are simple, familiar and dramatic.”
Old you: “I love you.”
New you: “Save money and discover new free health results. It’s easy, proven, and guaranteed. I love you.”


Trump says: “The words ‘I noticed’ have a powerful subconscious effect on people because they send a subliminal message to them that they stood out in the crowd, that they are attractive or charismatic or that they impressed you. It sends a message that you have interest in them. People love recognition and attention.”
Old you: “That’s a great coat!”
New you: “Congratulations on your new coat. I noticed that you have not removed it. I guarantee you my heaters get proven results.”


Trump says: “Don’t act impressed! When attendees see that we (the experts) are impressed by their accomplishments, they may easily leave thinking that they don’t need our help.”
Old you: “Wow, you finished a novel!”
New you: “Your novel is very bad. Also, my sister just won the National Book Award.”

Trump says: “Collect personalized information that you can utilize during closing time. (For example: are they a single parent of three children that may need money for food? Or are they a middle-aged commuter that is tired of traveling for 2 hours to work each day?)”
Old you: “So nice to see you again, and thanks for coming—we’ll have to catch up soon.”
New you: “So nice you see you again. I know where you live, the type of car you drive, and the names and ages of your children.”


Trump says: “Ask them for honesty and you will get it. … By asking for honesty, when they say yes they must maintain consistency with that statement and be honest.”
Old you: “Thanks for coming out to dinner with me. Let’s split the check.”
New you: “Congratulations on finishing your dinner. Now, will you be honest with me?” Yes. “What’s your credit card number?”

Trump says: “When the time comes, ask for the sale. Ask, ‘Are you ready to buy now?’”
Old you: “Will you marry me?
New you: “Are you ready to buy now?”

Read more Slate coverage of Trump University.