Dale Carnegie wrote the definitive guide to charisma, but most social guidebooks spend their time discussing the theory of magnetism and precious little time describing how to put those theories into action. His next book rectifies this problem. In this book review, you’ll find 92 rock-solid techniques to put theories into practice and get the best out of any social situation.
Learn the tactics used by the most charismatic people in the world.
READ THIS BOOK REVIEW IF YOU:
- Are nervous in social interactions and want to become more confident
- Ever wonder how charismatic people work their magic
- Want to know what makes a good conversation
How To Talk to Anyone (1998) is an indispensable guide to improving your conversations and becoming more graceful and effective in your social interactions – no matter the situation. Leil Lowndes offers readers a treasure trove of techniques and tips that will help any socially awkward individual gain more confidence in workplace environments, meetings, their private lives and at parties.
Life is full of meetings and conversations we’d rather not have, and presentations we’d rather not give. But the truth of the matter is that we’re all social beings who rely on communication in almost everything we do. Wouldn’t it make sense then that we should all strive to become better and more comfortable at talking to one another?
Getting people to become more effective communicators is what the author Leil Lowndes has devoted her life’s work to. She’s observed people, studied the research and noticed every little tic and habit that causes them to either stumble over themselves or to get the most out of a conversation. For decades she’s been releasing books filled with dos and don’ts designed to help people better navigate the choppy waters of everyday communication.
So dive in and learn some of the basic – and some of the more advanced – techniques that can help you through a casual conversation or stressful high-stakes meeting. You’ll be glad you did!
In this summary of How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes, in this book summary you’ll discover
- how to spread the good vibes of praise by using a messenger;
- how to enter a party like a boss; and
- how to give the perfect compliment.
Table of Contents
- How to Intrigue Everyone Without Saying a Word
- How to Know What to Say After You Say ‘Hi’
- How to Talk Like a VIP
- How to Be an Insider in Any Crowd
- How to Sound Like You’re Peas in a Pod
- How to Differentiate the Power of Praise From the Folly of Flattery
- How to Direct Dial Their Hearts
- How to Work a Party Like a Politician Works a Room
- How to Break the Most Treacherous Glass Ceiling of All
- First impressions matter, so remember to smile and use welcoming body language.
- Smooth introductions and familiar gestures lead to good conversations.
- Master the art of small talk by opening conversational doors and keeping people talking.
- Build rapport through imitating, empathizing and acting like a close friend.
- Be delicate, sparing and immediate with your praise.
- Always be considerate in your relationships, especially when it comes to giving and receiving favors.
- Sounding professional is crucial for career success.
- Stay in charge by separating business and leisure, and by always being honest.
- Preparing for meetings pays off.
- Effective phone skills can make up for a lack of visual cues.
- Get the most out of every party by making a strong entrance and taking the initiative.
- About the author
- Table of Contents
“Language most shews a man: Speak, that I may see thee.” The great English dramatist and poet Ben Jonson wrote these words in the seventeenth century. They are as true today as they were then. People evaluate you by the words you use and the way you use them. Of course, people also make judgments based on your body language, dress style, attitude, facial expressions and similar criteria that immediately register at a subconscious level. This outstanding book will put you well on your way to becoming a more attractive personality as it reveals the secrets that drama and speech coaches, sales trainers, communication consultants, psychologists and other behavioral experts employ to help their clients become more charismatic, dynamic and appealing. The famous journalist and social critic H.L. Mencken once wrote, “Before a man speaks, it is always safe to assume that he is a fool. After he speaks, it is seldom necessary to assume it.” This cynical maxim may be true for many – but certainly not for those who study this book. It is chock-full of wonderful insights and proven techniques – a whopping 92 in all – that you can use to become the type of person that others admire. We recommend putting its valuable lessons to use.
- Successful people are not always the smartest, most attractive or best educated.
- Often, they succeed because they know how to get along well with others.
- People respond to each other on a subconscious level. Research indicates that “as many as 10,000 units of information flow per second” between individuals.
- Numerous proven techniques can increase your attractiveness and dynamism.
- People learn everything they need to know about you within the first few seconds of meeting you.
- Meanwhile, you are also forming powerful first impressions.
- You send out clear signals about how you feel without saying a word.
- “Fine-tune your smile.”
- To make people feel great about you, focus your conversation on them.
- Many people are as frightened to make small talk as they are to appear on the stage.
- You will come across as a far more intelligent speaker if you simply find substitutes for a few “overworked words” such as “smart, nice, pretty or good.”
Whether you already feel comfortable at parties or you’re a wallflower wishing you knew how to navigate a crowd, there’s always more to learn about the ins and outs of socializing. Who couldn’t benefit from learning how to become a better speaker or, even more importantly, a better listener?
Since How to Win Friends and Influence People was published in 1936, people have been obsessed with Carnegie’s six principles of social interaction:
- Become genuinely interested in people.
- Use the other person’s name.
- Be a good listener.
- Talk in terms of other people’s interests.
- Make the other person feel important.
But how do you actually do this? It’s one thing to repeat these principles in your head like a mantra, but how exactly do you go about “making the other person feel important?”
In a world where success is less about who you know and more about who really loves you and wants you to succeed, knowing how to get people to trust you, like you, and even love you, is more important than ever. In this book review, you’ll learn techniques that cover a whole range of social engagements, like how to be an insider in any crowd and how to work a room.
Leil Lowndes distills the tactics you need to achieve these goals, and this book review briefly describes some of them.
How to Intrigue Everyone Without Saying a Word
- Smile. But don’t smile so often that it becomes meaningless to others. When you see someone, look into their eyes and practice letting your smile spread over your face slowly, as if it’s something specific in them that you’re reacting to.
- Use eye contact to communicate your intelligence; pretend your eyes are glued to the other person’s.
- Empower yourself with your posture. As you walk through any door, pretend that there’s an imaginary bit hanging by a thread from the top of the doorframe, and you must raise yourself to bite it.
- Welcome a new person with the same enthusiasm you would a small child.
- Don’t make yourself look untrustworthy by adopting the habits of a liar, such as fidgeting or using your hands to cover your face/mouth.
How to Know What to Say After You Say ‘Hi’
- Visualize your interactions before you have them and rehearse them.
- To create instant chemistry, mirror the other person’s mood.
- Be passionate, even when you’re making small talk and speaking about the most mundane details.
- When you notice someone you’d like to meet, simply ask a mutual acquaintance for an introduction.
- Eavesdrop on a conversation you want to enter until you hear them speaking about the perfect thing you can comment on.
- Avoid one-word answers to questions, as this leaves the other person hanging. Instead, take the opportunity to tell a story or expand on the question.
- When you introduce two people, leave them with a detail that can kickstart their conversation.
- If you don’t know how to respond, simply repeat the last few words the other person said. They’ll feel like what they’ve just finished saying really made an impression on you.
- After a person tells you a story, ask them to repeat it for someone who hasn’t heard it yet. Set them up for success, and they’ll be grateful.
- Don’t start a conversation with something negative.
How to Talk Like a VIP
- Avoid asking others the question, “What do you do?” Give them space to talk more by asking, “How do you spend most of your time?”
- When someone else asks you what you do, answer in a way that relates to something you know they’re interested in.
- Don’t repeat words too often. Use synonyms for common words and mix up your vocabulary.
- If you share something in common with someone, let them finish talking about it before you rush to say, “Me too!”
- Whenever possible, start your sentences with “you,” making it clear you’re speaking to the other person’s heart. For example, instead of saying, “Where is Central Park?” say, “Can you tell me how to get to Central Park?”
- Listen to other good orators and don’t be afraid to borrow from them.
- Don’t bother replacing words that you think might be inappropriate in a polite conversation.
- Before you give someone bad news, take stock of their mood and speak directly to how they’re currently feeling.
- If you meet a celebrity, don’t gush. Say something specific about how their work affected you and then move on.
- When you thank someone, never settle for the lone “thank you.” Add something in about what they actually did: “Thank you for saying that.”
How to Be an Insider in Any Crowd
- Once a month, do something totally outside of your comfort zone to expand your horizons and your ability to talk about new, exciting things.
- If everyone at a party works in the same industry, read up on the current hotbutton issues in that field.
- When visiting other countries, make sure you’re crystal clear about the local customs.
- Know the competitive prices on any given product and use that knowledge when you’re bargaining.
How to Sound Like You’re Peas in a Pod
- Watch people like they’re your dance instructor. By mirroring their body language, you instill the feeling you’re from the same background.
- When speaking, weave in imagery that relates to what you know about the other person’s life.
- Avoid simply saying “mmm” or “right” when you’re listening. Get more original with your empathizers. For example: “I see what you mean.”
- Early in the conversation, start referring to the two of you as “we” and “us” to create a bond.
How to Differentiate the Power of Praise From the Folly of Flattery
- When you hear someone say something nice about someone else, carry that compliment over to them.
- Put compliments into your speech in an offhand way, as if they’re in the parentheses of what you’re saying.
- Choose a very specific, private moment to give someone your best compliment. Make it direct and substantive, and they’ll never forget you.
- After someone does something right, praise them immediately and ride the wave of their euphoria.
- If you receive compliments well, people will be more excited to compliment you.
- If you really want to win someone over, ask them what they’d like written on their tombstone. Don’t mention it again until much later in a special moment, when you repeat it word-for-word. Their jaw will drop.
How to Direct Dial Their Hearts
- When you’re on the phone, do whatever is necessary to put into your voice anything that you’d normally communicate with your body language.
- Since you have limited options to create closeness over the phone, shower your listener with the sound of their name.
- Smile, even when you’re on the phone. People can hear your smile in your voice.
- When you’re talking on the phone to a gatekeeper, such as a secretary or intern, remember their name and use it. If they like you, you’re much more likely to get what you want.
- Start your phone calls with “Is this the right time?” or “Do you have time to talk?” You come across as conscientious and won’t launch into a conversation the other person doesn’t have time for right now.
- Record a new outgoing message every day. Make it short and sweet and put in details about when you can talk. This prevents you from wasting people’s time.
- When asking a secretary to speak to the boss, act like you’re old friends with the boss by not even using their name: “This is Jim, is she in?”
- Record your calls and occasionally listen to them again. You’ll notice new things you weren’t aware of the first time, just as you would notice new things when rewatching a movie.
How to Work a Party Like a Politician Works a Room
- When you’re speaking with someone, don’t hold anything in your hands that symbolizes something coming between you. Be open and available.
- When you walk into the room, pause at the door and survey the room. This gives you an opportunity to read the crowd, and this moment of silence draws people to you.
- Maintain open body language so that you don’t scare anyone away from coming up to you.
- Whenever you get a business card, use it to jot down details of your conversation. If you bring specific details up the next time you speak to that person, they’ll take notice.
- Track your speaking partner’s interest with their body language and adapt accordingly. Are they scanning the room instead of looking at you? Time to change the topic because they’re getting bored!
How to Break the Most Treacherous Glass Ceiling of All
- When someone else makes a conversational mistake, don’t take notice, so they can escape the shame for whatever mistake they’ve made.
- Do the other person verbal favors by setting them up to feel good. If they’re interrupted during a story, then when the time is right, prompt them to continue.
- When suggesting a meeting or an opportunity, be open about what you stand to gain and what they’ll get out of it. If you don’t acknowledge the fact that you could benefit from the opportunity, they’ll think you’re hiding something. If you’re asking for a favor, let that be known as well.
- After someone agrees to do you a favor, wait at least 24 hours before you ask them to do it. They’ll get a day to bask in their generosity after saying yes.
- After you’ve done someone else a favor, wait a while before you ask them to pay you back. This reinforces that you did the favor out of friendliness, not just for your own benefit.
- When someone else makes a mistake, give them an out by lightly blaming yourself. If they’ve forgotten about an event and don’t show up, suggest, “I think the details I gave you were a little confusing.”
- Get the gratitude of employees by asking to talk to their boss to compliment them: “Is your manager around? I’d love to tell them how helpful you were.”
- When listening to someone speak or perform, lead the audience’s reaction. If they’re going to clap, be the first to clap.
- Keep score of who owes who at any given moment and give deference to the current leader. You don’t want to come across as rude or ungrateful.
First impressions matter, so remember to smile and use welcoming body language.
Let’s not kid ourselves: first impressions are really important. When you meet someone for the first time, the way you look and act is seared into their brain, and it will undoubtedly influence any future dealings you have with that person.
The first thing someone sees is your face, so this is where a good first impression begins.
Did your mom ever tell you to always make sure you smile when you meet new people? You may have found it annoying at the time, but she was right. A smile can make a big difference in whether or not you win someone over.
People can spot a fake smile, however, so let the grin grow slowly, as this will make it appear more personal and genuine.
Studies show that a natural-looking smile is even more important among women. In corporate environments, women who are slower to smile are considered more credible.
Another tip is to avoid giving everyone in a group the same smile, as this can be off-putting. Try to vary your grin as you deal with different people.
Your eyes are also an important asset in winning people over – it has been proven that establishing steady eye contact will help you gain both respect and affection. If you want to improve a relationship, maintain eye contact with that person even if they’re not talking, and only break off that contact when you must.
Now, with your face sorted out, let’s move on to body language, which has a powerful influence on how you’re perceived by others.
For starters, it’s important to recognize that just because someone’s a stranger, it doesn’t mean you have to act like she’s one. Instead, when greeting someone for the first time, do so as if she were an old friend. Along with a warm smile, turn your body fully toward her so she can see you’re giving her your undivided attention.
You can also avoid falling out of her good graces by making sure not to fidget – which means keeping your hand gestures under control.
It may sound odd, but studies show that if you touch your face when you talk it makes you seem less credible – so keep calm, and keep your hands away from your face.
Smooth introductions and familiar gestures lead to good conversations.
Before you meet with someone for the first time, you might have anxious thoughts like “What if we don’t have anything in common?” or “What are we going to talk about?”
Luckily, you’ll often find that a smooth introduction is all that’s needed to get a good conversation going.
The easiest way to make that introduction happen is to request it from a mutual friend or the person hosting the event you’re at. Alternatively, you can ask them a few questions about the mysterious stranger so that you have a way to start the conversation yourself.
Finally, you can also loiter near the stranger, listen in and see if you find an opening to jump in.
One classic technique for getting others to come talk to you is to have an icebreaker, or conversation starter, that you can bring with you, such as a vintage pocket watch, or one-of-a-kind purse. This opens the door for someone to ask, “Where did you get that?” Before you know it you’re chatting like the best of friends.
If you’re the one hosting the meeting, you can make things easier by making introductions and including one or two interesting facts about each person. This way, everyone has a chance to ask a follow-up question and get the ball rolling.
Once introductions are made, and the conversation has started, your attention can then focus on your demeanor.
No one wants to be stuck in a conversation where someone is droning on about some boring and seemingly endless story. So to ensure you’re not inflicting this upon other people, pay close attention to how they are speaking and responding. Try to match their mood and tone of voice, and the chances are everyone will be attentive and engaged.
For instance, if they’re smiling and using animated gestures, do the same. Or, if the mood is somber and people are leaning back in their chairs, do your best to fit in.
When you spot your chance to enter a conversation, the best thing to do is be confident in what you say and engage with a positive attitude. This is even more important than the words you use, as long as you avoid comments that are rude, unpleasant or that could be seen as complaints, as this would create a negative first impression.
Master the art of small talk by opening conversational doors and keeping people talking.
You might think that small talk is inconsequential and a waste of time, but this is plain wrong. In your business and private life, small talk can mean the difference between winning someone over and scaring them off.
If your small-talk skills are lacking, try to prepare for the inevitable questions you’ll get asked.
What questions always come up when getting to know someone? Chances are, it’s things like, “Where are you from,” or, “What do you do?”
And due to their perennial nature, these questions often solicit drab, abrupt and uninviting answers. So instead of giving one-word answers like “London” and “Marketing,” be prepared to elaborate. Keep the conversation flowing by leading into an interesting fact or anecdote that opens the door for another topic.
For example, if you’re hometown is Washington, DC, you could mention that it was designed by the same city planner who laid the plans for Paris. This could spark further conversation about traveling.
Another winning tip is to focus on being a good listener, and knowing how to keep your partner talking.
It might seem like a contradiction, but one of the best ways to make people think that you’re a great conversationalist is to say very little and keep the spotlight on your partner. This way, they’ll be too busy talking and being flattered by your interest to notice that you aren’t saying much.
A common way to keep a person talking is to use their pauses as an opportunity to take the last thing they said and repeat it in such a way that it puts the ball back in their court. By keeping a person talking, you can lead them to all manner of interesting revelations.
An easy way to win some conversational kudos is to know who in the group has a great story and then to give that person a proper introduction. This not only provides the group with entertainment, but the person with the story will most likely appreciate the way you gave them the opportunity to shine.
Just make sure the story is appropriate and wasn’t something you were told in confidentiality; otherwise, this tactic could backfire rather awkwardly.
Whenever you talk, you should also try to avoid saying things that will make you look bad. When people are getting to know each other better, they often feel the impulse to confess something personal or reveal a weakness. This is a mistake. Unless the person is already thoroughly impressed by you, revealing a secret will likely just make them wonder what else you’re hiding.
Build rapport through imitating, empathizing and acting like a close friend.
Here’s a fact of human nature that can be helpful to keep in mind: people tend to like those with whom they have traits in common. This is something you can use to your advantage by highlighting the commonalities you have with the person you’re trying to flatter.
As the saying goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – so use this to make it easier for you to get along with others.
How do they move? Are they slow and careful, or nervous and jumpy? When you reflect a person’s movements, they’ll tend to feel more comfortable around you, even if they’re not exactly sure why.
The same goes for language, so try to use the same words and phrases they do.
For example, if you’re talking to someone who says they work for an ad agency, notice that they didn’t call it a company or a firm, and do likewise yourself.
You can take this a step further by using words that relate to their interests; if they’re into baseball, you could help them hit a “home run,” and if boating is their thing, you could welcome them as part of the “crew.”
Another way to build rapport is to drop the “ums” and use empathizers instead.
When we talk, we tend to subconsciously reply with monosyllabic mumblings such as “huh,” “yep” or “um,” just to acknowledge that we’re listening. But if you want to make a good impression, use full sentences that show your partner that you’re truly listening, like, “That was the right thing to do,” or, “I see why you did that.” This will help your partner see that you really understand them.
Another top-notch rapport booster that will take you from being mere acquaintances to close friends in no time is adopting two powerful words: “we” and “us.” For the most part, people tend to use these words only when speaking of their closest friends and partners. By using these words around someone you want to bring into your inner circle, you’ll speed up the friendship-forming process.
So rather than saying, “What do you think about this new mayor?” try saying, “How do you think we’ll do with the new mayor?”
Finally, learn to cultivate in-jokes. They are a cornerstone of any close relationship. If you want to quickly form a bond, remember when funny remarks and shared laughs occur, and cleverly bring them up again later on. Suddenly, you’ll have a memorable, shared history between the two of you!
Be delicate, sparing and immediate with your praise.
Praise is a good thing, right? It is in theory, but in practice, it can backfire if the recipient thinks you’re being insincere.
Therefore, it’s wise to give praise indirectly.
One way of doing this is to pass along any nice words via a mutual acquaintance. By having a third party deliver the good news, both the recipient and the messenger will come away feeling great.
Likewise, if you’re ever approached by someone to pass along a good word, be sure to follow through on it – you’ll find that being the bearer of good tidings has its own rewards.
If you’re the one directly giving a compliment, however, avoid being too obvious about it. Instead, you could include it in a casual remark. For instance, you could ask someone “How are you?” and then briefly glance at them before continuing, “You’ve obviously been well.”
Or you can subtly imply that you respect the other person by asking them for, say, a restaurant recommendation. This shows that you admire their good taste.
If you feel the need to be more direct, remember that a little praise goes a long way.
Generally speaking, everyone feels they do good work that goes largely unnoticed. By simply telling someone that they did a good job, you’ll be making their day!
Keep in mind that it’s even better when the praise is immediate. Rather than waiting a week before delivering it, speak up right when the good deed happens.
Immediate praise can be especially good when someone’s just given a presentation, since public speaking is tough for most people. Even if you’re stretching the truth, your colleague will appreciate it if you tell them that they did a good job right away.
But for those nearest and dearest to you, you can be specific in your praise.
If you want to deliver a dazzling compliment to that special someone in your life, just highlight one specific trait that you really admire. Maybe it’s their stylish good looks, their amazing perseverance or their impeccable charm – if you’re sincere and genuine in your compliment, they’ll be sure to appreciate it.
Always be considerate in your relationships, especially when it comes to giving and receiving favors.
We’ve covered many of the basics for how to talk to anyone and win them over. Now let’s look at some expert-level tricks to put you on top of your interpersonal game.
One easy way to improve your relationships is to be more considerate.
First, understand that people need to vent from time to time, especially after a rough day. Be patient, allowing them to complain and get it out of their system, and try to show that you’re sympathetic. This will help them to calm down, and once that happens, you can shift the conversation over to what’s on your mind.
Second, make sure you don’t leave a conversation hanging.
Say your friend is in the middle of a great story when a waiter interrupts her to take your orders. Once the distraction has been dealt with, don’t forget to return to your friend and have her pick up where she left off.
The third tip is that sometimes things are best left unsaid.
Everyone has moments they hope no one notices, like, say, if they experience a certain smelly and embarrassing biological function when in the company of someone else. But that doesn’t mean you or the other person have to acknowledge it with a remark. The considerate thing to do is continue the conversation as if it never happened. Rest assured, your friend will be very grateful for this.
The final form of considerate behavior is to perfect the art of the favor.
You probably know how great you feel when you do someone a favor, right? But if someone asks you to drop everything and do him a favor right now, that’s a different story – he comes off as rude. So don’t make this mistake yourself.
Similarly, if you do someone a favor, don’t immediately ask for something in return. Instead, let time pass so that they know you performed your favor out of friendship. Only later bring up what you want.
Finally, know that we all keep score of the things we do for friends and colleagues, so make sure that you’re sufficiently thankful and appreciative to those who continually have your back.
Sounding professional is crucial for career success.
If you’re an ambitious worker, you’re likely to be on the lookout for ways to impress the boss and generate forward momentum in your career. A key tactic for this is to ensure that you always sound professional.
First, when talking with your boss, cut to the chase and be direct. Important people don’t have time to dance around the topic.
What’s more, try to retain your subject’s focus while talking. By starting your sentences with “you,” the listener is bound to pay more attention to the words that follow.
Along these same lines, when you’re considering how to deliver news, think about what your listener’s response is likely to be and try to anticipate it in your communication. For example, if you think they’ll be happy to hear the news, deliver it with a smile. If it’s disappointing news, tell them with a compassionate sigh.
Also, think about what the listener might be interested in. If you’re meeting a potential client, don’t just tell them your job title – tell them what you do for people. If you’re an accountant, say, “I arrange people’s finances and find new ways for them to save money.” If you’re a hairdresser, mention how your job allows you to “find the perfect cut that suits a client’s face and personality.”
But as with any communication, there are also plenty of pitfalls in trying to sound professional. Here are a few of the most common ones.
First, if you discover that you have something in common with someone, don’t overreact with a sudden, “Oh wow, me too!” The professional response is to stay calm, letting the reveal happen naturally over the course of the conversation. The other person is bound to be impressed by your cool demeanor.
Second, you should avoid cliches at all costs.
Third, don’t ask people, “What do you do?” Instead, ask them something like “How do you spend most of your time?” Some people don’t like talking about their day jobs, but they’ll be happy to discuss their passions.
And, finally, remember that professionals don’t tease or embarrass other people, or make jokes at their expense.
Stay in charge by separating business and leisure, and by always being honest.
Climbing the career ladder is hard enough, but once you get to the top, there’s a whole new challenge: avoiding getting knocked back down.
A great tip for all bosses is to keep business away from personal time.
Even if you’re at a business lunch, don’t start talking shop until you’re done with the dessert, especially if the topic is a tough one. After all, no one wants to have their appetite ruined by an unpleasant business conversation.
The same goes for parties, which can be great for making new contacts, but less so for discussing serious business matters. Keep it light and make a separate appointment for more serious discussions.
When it’s the proper time to do business, remember to always be honest while presenting your best self.
When meeting or pitching to clients, people tend to make the mistake of talking about how much the customer is going to benefit, while avoiding the subject of what they’ll get out of the deal. While you might think this is just being polite, it can come across as disingenuous. Instead, just be transparent and upfront about how both the client, and yourself, will benefit. This way, they won’t think that you’re trying to pull a fast one.
And don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Some businesses actually love messing up, because it allows them to impress the customer by making up for it.
So if you make a mistake, like sending out the wrong product, be apologetic and go the extra mile by making a gesture of goodwill, such as offering a gift card or free shipping on their next order. This way, you’re likely to keep the customer, who may even spread the word about how great your service is.
One final tip that’s sure to impress is to always be the first one to applaud or speak up.
Leaders take the first step, right? They don’t wait for others to tell them what to do. So in group scenarios, you can subtly and effectively present yourself as a leader by being the first to applaud or offer an opinion.
Preparing for meetings pays off.
If you want to improve your chances of having a successful meeting with someone you don’t know, a little preparation can work wonders.
First, try to ensure you always have just the right thing to say.
Studies show that people with a deep and plentiful vocabulary are seen as more intelligent and creative. So it can only help your cause to look up some of your more repetitive words in a thesaurus and find some replacements you can put to use. Think of it this way: if you pick up a new word once a day for two months, you’ll soon come across as quite the clever and creative wordsmith.
Having some relevant quotations handy is another sign of wisdom. Whenever you come across a good quote, write it down and return to it until you know it by heart. You’ll soon find that once you have an appropriate occasion to use it, you’ll knock ‘em dead.
Preparation can be especially useful if you focus on the people you’re meeting with.
For instance, if you’re attending a trade conference or similar event, brush up on your business jargon by leafing through trade magazines or websites – you’ll impress people by knowing the most pressing and burning issues of the moment.
Possessing insider knowledge like this increases the chances that you’ll be welcomed into the inner circle and treated with a bit more respect than a stranger would be.
Similarly, when you’re shopping for something expensive like a car, knowing the lingo and the small details of how things work can often lead to a better offer from the salesperson.
The same holds true when you’re a tourist or traveling on business. Familiarity with local customs and history will mean you’ll be less likely to put your foot in your mouth, or otherwise embarrass yourself.
One hapless businessman learned this the hard way. He was about to close a deal in Brazil when he made the “OK” hand gesture. Little did he know that in Brazil this means something else entirely and is very rude. While this information may not be in your common travel guide, it just goes to show how easily miscommunication can mess up a meeting or blow a deal.
So do your part to ensure things go smoothly by taking the time to be as prepared as you can.
Effective phone skills can make up for a lack of visual cues.
For many people, talking on the phone is not the ideal way to have a conversation. Some studies show that people lose 30 percent of their voice’s energy when on the phone.
But here are some techniques you can dial into so that your ears will be ringing with praise.
When you answer the phone, do so in a crisp and professional manner. When the caller identifies himself, greet him like you would a long-lost friend. This way, they’ll feel warm and welcome, and you’ll already be off to a great start.
Always remember that, on the phone, people can’t read your facial expressions, your body language or your hand gestures, so it’s up to you to translate that visual information into verbal cues. This means that instead of nodding, make sure to say “uh-huh,” “I’m so happy to hear that,” or “Please continue,” so that they know what’s on your mind and that you’re fully engaged in the conversation.
What’s more, people tend to perk up when they hear their own name, so you can keep someone’s attention by using their name more frequently than you would otherwise. But beware of carrying this into face-to-face talks, as saying a person’s name too often there can sound like you’re pandering.
When you want to conduct business over the phone, it doesn’t hurt to always ask the other person if it’s a good time to talk, and only carry on if it’s clear that they have time.
It’s also not uncommon to have a hard time getting past someone’s stubborn assistant. But here’s a trick you can try: instead of asking to talk to Ms. Smith, just ask, “Is she in today?” This implies familiarity and suggests you’re a close friend who deserves to be put at the top of the callback queue.
If you’re the one doing the screening, however, there’s a method to making rejections a little easier for the caller. Have your staff tell them that they’ll be put right through. After keeping the caller on hold for a moment, have your staff apologize and inform the caller that you’re unavailable. This will make them less likely to take it personally.
With these tips, you should be on your way to making the most out of every phone conversation.
Get the most out of every party by making a strong entrance and taking the initiative.
Many people attend parties just to have a good time. While there’s nothing wrong with that, you can also go in a bit more ambitiously. Here are some tips for how you can meet and impress all the movers and shakers in attendance.
Once again, that first impression is all-important.
You’ve probably heard about pop stars having great stage presence, right? You can have the same magnetism and get everyone looking your way by making some preparations and knowing how to enter a room.
The technique for a dramatic entrance is simple: Before entering, pause at the doorway and give the room a scan. Once you’ve surveyed the premises and deemed them satisfactory, you can smile and step inside. This kind of dramatic entrance is sure to impress those in attendance.
Once inside, you should take the initiative and immediately gravitate toward the most interesting person in the room. If you stand around waiting for someone to come to you, you could end up a wallflower for the entire night, with few opportunities to meet those movers and shakers.
When you do have someone’s undivided attention, it’s time to put all that you’ve learned in the previous book summary to work – but here’s a bonus tip.
Be mindful of your hands; avoid gestures that might subconsciously register as threatening, like showing your knuckles or the back of your hand. Instead, adopt an open and inviting posture, with your palms facing outward.
Remember to listen, and take mental notes of what the other person is saying, as it will likely prove useful later. This includes personal details they may reveal and anything else that seems important to them. By bringing one of these details up in your next meeting, you’re certain to make a great impression.
“Clever Hans, the Counting Horse”
In Europe during the halcyon years before World War I, “Clever Hans, the counting horse,” was, without a doubt, the most talked-about sensation on the continent. A brilliant entertainer with a unique act, Hans could somehow supply accurate answers to math questions that audience members posed to him. He did so by quickly tapping out the correct answers to any problem – addition, subtraction, multiplication and division – with a hoof. The horse’s owner, Herr von Osten, was always by his side while Hans performed these seemingly miraculous feats – but he never spoke to the horse or signaled to him in any way.
“There are two kinds of people in this life: Those who walk into a room and say, ‘Well, here I am!’ And those who walk in and say, ‘Ahh, there you are’.”
No one had ever seen such an amazing animal! Expanding beyond math, Hans “learned the alphabet.” By tapping his hoof a certain number of times for each letter, he would answer questions from audience members concerning the latest news, or subjects such as geography and history. Hans always answered every question correctly. Eventually scientists and other leaders organized a special commission to investigate the “human horse.” They asked von Osten to leave the hall for their test. Then, they had Hans perform his usual math and language wizardry in front of a crowd. But the horse still did not miss an answer, tapping out correct responses to numerous questions from the leader of the commission. No one could stump the brainy Hans.
“No man would listen to you talk if he didn’t know it was his turn next.”
The public insisted that investigators form another commission. Members organized a second test in which the questioner whispered questions in Hans’s ear so no one else could hear. This time, Hans could not answer even a single question correctly. Instead of being brilliant, the horse was revealed as a dummkopf! Can you guess how the commission’s members proved that Hans was a fraud? Von Osten had taught the horse to read the audience members’ “body-language signals.” As Hans tapped his hoof, people in the audience would exhibit clear signs of tension – straining forward, holding their breath – until the horse reached the correct number. Then they would all relax, at which point von Osten had taught Hans to stop tapping immediately. Hans was “clever” – but not because he was a math genius or geography expert. He simply knew how to take cues for his actions from the subtle responses of the people around him. “Know your audience” is one of the primary rules of effective communications. Hans the horse was able to learn this important lesson. Can you?
Teach Yourself to Become Charming and Attractive
The most accomplished public speakers, actors, politicians and salespeople were not born charismatic. They worked hard to learn how to speak effectively, to be appealing, and to charm and persuade others. How did they achieve their goals? The answer is simple: They each applied certain remarkably helpful rules of personal communication and, thus, developed themselves into winning and attractive personalities. Yes, such rules exist. Furthermore, they are easy to learn and employ. You can use these secrets and tricks to re-create yourself almost magically into a person of great charm and poise, someone everyone will admire and want to be near.
“How to Intrigue Everyone Without Saying a Word”
First impressions are the most lasting. “The way you look and the way you move” provide 80% of the information people use to form their initial impressions of you. To make sure people get an overwhelmingly positive impression when they first meet you, use the following tips:
- Smile slowly – Don’t smile as soon as you meet someone. People will assume that you do this with everyone. Instead, wait a second or two, look long and deep at the person you are meeting, then smile big. This brief delay signals that you are not smiling because it is socially desirable, but because you see something special in this particular person that you really like.
- “Sticky eyes” – Show people that you truly can’t take your eyes off of them. Maintain perfect eye contact while you speak with them.
- “The big baby pivot” – When you meet someone, pivot directly toward him or her with a “total-body turn,” flash a genuine smile, and show the undivided and very special attention you would give to a young child who has just crawled up into your lap.
“How to Know What to Say After You Say, ‘Hi'”
Many people, including senior executives, motivational speakers and great performers, hate to make small talk. But it is an art that you easily can muster if you follow these tactics:
- The “mood match” – Don’t speak with someone else until you first sample his or her mood. Once you have, make sure that your opening words “match that mood.” This is particularly important for salespeople.
- “Wear a ‘whatzit'” – Starting a conversation with a stranger is not easy. One way to get the ball rolling is to wear something distinctive that he or she is sure to comment upon – a novel tie-tack, a piece of antique jewelry, or a special lapel pin or button.
- The “swiveling spotlight” – People love to speak about themselves. Imagine a giant spotlight that rotates to light up your counterpart. Keep the spotlight – and focus – on that person and not yourself. He or she will think you are great for doing so.
“How to Talk Like a VIP”
You can always recognize important people by the commanding, intelligent way they speak. They have confidence, choose the proper words and don’t use clichés. Follow their lead:
- “Kill the quick ‘me too!'” – To really impress, avoid immediately matching someone else’s account of a personal experience or preference – say, a love of sailing – with your own story. Let your shared interest come out gracefully during the conversation.
- “Comm-YOU-nication” – Slip the word “you” into your discourse as often as you can. This focuses the content on the other person, and gains his or her attention and approval.
- Avoid euphemisms – Always speak directly and to the point. The use of “nicey-nice” words makes you appear equivocal and weak.
“How to Be an Insider in Any Crowd”
To be able to converse well with others, cure yourself of “Silent Outsider Syndrome.” Use the special words and phrases that are common parlance to the people or group that you want to join:
- “Learn a little ‘jobbledygook'” – People will be impressed with you if you speak in terms they routinely use. Pick up the lingo by listening to others to find out what their special words and phrases mean so you can use them appropriately.
- Hit their “hot buttons” – Each professional group has its own provocative issues – for example, doctors get feisty about their relationships with hospitals. Find out what these issues are, then mention them to spice up your exchanges.
- “Read their rags” – The best way to gain inside knowledge about a specific field is to read the trade journals that report on it. An hour or two in the library can work wonders to improve your conversational prowess.
“How to Sound Like You’re Peas in a Pod”
In general people are more comfortable with those who have similar values or interests. Your job is to provoke “sensations of similarity” in the thoughts of those you want to get to know:
- “Join the movement” – Does your conversational partner make herky-jerky movements, or languid and graceful ones? Subtly match that person’s movements to make him or her feel more comfortable with you on a subliminal basis. But don’t go overboard or you are almost sure to offend.
- “Echoing” – What special words and phrases does your conversational partner use to describe something? “Echo” your partner and use those words yourself.
- “The premature ‘we'” – When you pepper your sentences with the word “we,” you establish a subconscious bond with other people involved.
“How to Differentiate the Power of Praise from the Folly of Flattery”
Back in the 1930s, Dale Carnegie extolled the virtues of praise in his classic bestseller How to Win Friends and Influence People. The power of praise is just as strong today, but praise that does not appear genuine is certain to backfire, so proceed carefully using these helpers:
- “Grapevine glory” – To praise someone without seeming to be an apple-polisher, speak highly of that person, but not directly to him or her. Instead voice your compliment to that person’s closest friend or associate. Rest assured that the message will get delivered.
- “Accidental adulation” – Sneak praise into an otherwise mundane sentence: “Because you are so knowledgeable concerning…, I’m sure you can set the agenda.”
- “Killer compliments” – Use them whenever you can. For example, you can say something like, “You are the most honest person I know.”
“How to Direct-Dial Their Hearts”
You may look great, stand tall, dress in style and feel confident – but how do you project these qualities when you speak over the phone? Ensure that you:
- “Pump up the volume” – When you speak over the phone, “turn your smiles into sound.” Be animated and project a positive image through your tone of voice.
- “Name shower” – Repeat the other person’s name over and over. A person’s name is their favorite word.
- “Oh wow, it’s you” – Always answer your calls in a professional way, then switch to a very sunny, happy demeanor as soon as the caller identifies themselves.
“How to Work a Party Like a Politician Works a Room”
Always put the “politician’s six-point party checklist” to work when you attend a function:
- “Who will be there?” – After all, that’s why you’re going, right?
- “When should I arrive?” – The best advice is to get there early.
- “What should I take with me?” – At a minimum, you’ll need your business cards.
- “Why is the party being given?” –Be sure and get the true reason.
- “Where is the collective mind?” – Will it be a party of financiers or environmentalists?
- “How am I going to follow up?” – Follow up to confirm the contacts you have made.
“How to Break the Most Treacherous Glass Ceiling of All”
Gaffes, intemperate or insensitive comments can kill any chance you have to get ahead. To avoid doing damage, keep these strategies in mind:
- “See no bloopers” – Never comment on the “slips, fumbles and faux pas” of others.
- “Savor the favor” – If someone offers to do a good deed on your behalf, wait a little before you try to collect it.
- “Chance encounters are for chitchat” – You have been trying for weeks to schedule an appointment to speak to the boss about increasing your salary. But don’t bring it up when you run into them in a checkout line. If you do, you’ll never get the raise.
Planned Communication – and Presentation – Makes All the Difference
You cannot get ahead unless you know how to speak to people so they will want to listen. Fortunately, learning this skill is within anyone’s grasp. Study how successful people accomplish this important goal – and then do what they do. It’s really as simple as that.
There are so many nuances in a good conversation, and there are as many opportunities to put your foot in your mouth as to make a meaningful connection. If you follow these lessons, you’ll be more likely to forge lasting relationships and become a better listener, while also not being ignored.
People will feel your attention on them, and they’ll crave your attention as well because your body language subtly communicates your power and confidence. You don’t seem false because you’ve developed a genuine curiosity for the other person, and you’re allowing that curiosity to lead the conversation. You’re a social detective, picking up on clues that were always there but that most people don’t bother to spot.
Everything from parties to phone calls become an arena to test your skills: It becomes a playful game you’re good at rather than a stressful social test. Simply remember these techniques to remain open, interested, observant, gracious, and confident, and you’ll open doors that you didn’t even know were there.
The key message in this book summary:
With some basic understanding of human nature and people’s habits, anyone can learn how to be a better communicator and improve their relationships. Everyone should know the importance of making a good first impression, how to use non-threatening and positive body language, giving effective praise and how to come to meetings prepared with valuable information. With knowledge and good technique, you’ll not only feel more comfortable and confident in your conversations but also gain more friends and quickly move up the ladder of success.
Visualize good habits.
Before entering a meeting, picture yourself smiling, making eye contact and practicing positive body language. Visualizing can work as a self-fulfilling prophecy, and help ensure your meeting goes well.
Remember the valuable information people reveal about themselves.
One helpful trick is to jot down interesting facts on the back of a person’s business card as soon as you finish talking to them. Then, the next time you meet, you can impress them by mentioning one or two personal details.
Leil Lowndes has been teaching people how to communicate effectively for years. She’s written 10 top-selling books on the subject and lectures frequently to audiences and major corporations. She’s been published in TIME, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and many more.
Personal Growth, Self Help, Communication, Psychology, Personal Development, Relationships, Social, Leadership, Social Interactions in Relationships, Business and Money, Business Communication Skills, Personal Transformation
Table of Contents
Part One: You Only Have Ten Seconds to Show You’re a Somebody
Part Two: What Do I Say After I Say “Hi?”
Part Three: How to Talk Like the Big Boys ‘n’ Girls
Part Four: How to Be an Insider in Any Crowd
Part Five: Why, We’re Just Alike!
Part Six: The Power of Praise, the Folly of Flattery
Part Seven: Direct Dial Their Hearts
Part Eight: How to Work a Party Like a Politician Works a Room
Part Nine: Little Tricks of Big Winners
A Final Word: Your Destiny
Stay tuned for book review…