Self Help

How to Talk to Anyone - Leil Lowndes

Author Photo

Matheus Puppe

· 37 min read

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Here is a summary of the key points in the preface:

  • Successful people seem to “have it all” - good jobs, relationships, friends, money - but it’s not because they’re smarter or luckier. Their success comes from skillful communication and dealing with people.

  • Big winners use subtle communication techniques that help them boost up the ladder of corporate and social success.

  • Little leaguers don’t recognize these techniques and blame rejection on things like snobbery or cliquishness.

  • The author wanted to identify concrete communication techniques to make every interaction more clear, confident, credible and charismatic.

  • She read many books on communication skills but found they state what to do, not how to do it. For example, saying to smile more but not how to smile genuinely.

  • The world has changed since classics like How to Win Friends and Influence People were published in the 1930s. More sophisticated techniques are needed today.

  • The author observed successful “Big Winners” to identify 92 subtle techniques they use to get what they want in life. The book shares these techniques.

  • The author explored techniques used by successful people in various fields to influence and persuade others. She broke them down into concrete, easy-to-use communication techniques.

  • The first impression someone makes when you meet them is very powerful and memorable. Their essence is captured in their appearance, posture, facial expressions, etc.

  • You can make a great first impression by having good posture, a confident smile, direct eye contact, and appearing engaged. This makes you seem like “somebody” important.

  • Not all smiles are equal. Big winners use a more refined, enriched smile selectively for maximum impact.

  • You need to make your smile special, not just a quick, instant grin. Fine-tune it to show genuine pleasure.

  • Other techniques include: giving your undivided attention, employing the “flooding” smile, prolonging eye contact, knowing how to shake hands properly, and using the person’s name.

  • Mastering these techniques will make people open up to you and want to know you better. You will stand out in any crowd.

  • The author describes how his friend “Missy” had developed a new, slower smile after taking over her father’s corrugated box business. Her father had advised her that slowing down her quick smile would give her more gravitas and credibility with clients.

  • The author researched smiling and found that credible public figures like politicians and CEOs tend to smile slowly, letting it flood their whole face. He calls this the “flooding smile” technique.

  • Eye contact is also discussed as a powerful communication tool. Studies found intense eye contact engenders feelings of fondness and respect. It also gives the impression of being an intelligent and abstract thinker.

  • However, some cultural groups see intense staring as intrusive. And prolonged eye contact can make some men feel hostile or threatened, especially when coming from another man.

  • The author advocates using strong eye contact judiciously, being aware of cultural and individual differences in comfort with it. Mastering eye contact is described as registering your eyes as “psychological lethal weapons.”

  • The author introduces techniques for making eye contact that make people feel you are interested in them, like “Sticky Eyes” where you maintain eye contact even after the other person finishes speaking.

  • For “Epoxy Eyes”, you look at the listener rather than the speaker in a group conversation to show interest in their reactions. This has benefits in business situations but can come across as intrusive in casual settings.

  • Eye contact releases phenylethylamine which creates feelings of erotic excitement. Epoxy Eyes conveys “I can’t take my eyes off you” which can be effective if the other person finds you attractive.

  • Good posture signals confidence and importance. The author suggests imagining biting a dental grip swinging above your head as you walk through doorways to pull your body into perfect alignment like an acrobat.

  • Using these techniques projects a visceral message of respect, comprehension, knowledge and confidence. They make people feel captivated by you and convey that you are a “Winner”.

  • Good posture, a heads-up look, a confident smile, and direct gaze are the basics for projecting a successful image.

  • People make subconscious judgments about you based on your body language in the first few moments of meeting. You want them to think “Wow, I really like you!”

  • Use the “Big-Baby Pivot” - when meeting someone new, give them your full attention and a big smile, like you would to a cute baby. This makes them feel special.

  • People care most about themselves. To make people like you, show a genuine interest in them by asking questions and listening intently.

  • Use the “Flooding Smile” - a huge smile when you see someone you know. This conveys warm feelings.

  • The key is to make people feel good about themselves when they’re with you, by validating them through positive body language, full attention, and enthusiastic responses.

  • To make people like you, you must show how much you like them through your body language and demeanor. Be warm, friendly, and enthusiastic.

  • When meeting someone new, imagine they are an old friend you are reconnecting with. This will make your body language naturally more warm and welcoming.

  • Loving behaviors beget loving behaviors. If you act like you like someone, you will start to actually like them more. And they will like you back.

  • To build credibility, maintain comfortable but confident body language. Avoid fidgeting or breaking eye contact when answering questions. This gives the impression of truthfulness.

  • We have a sixth sense for when someone is lying, even if we can’t pinpoint what nonverbal signals tipped us off. Polygraph tests rely on detecting subtle physiological changes when lying.

  • Overall, making a great impression is about showing you are a friendly, genuine, confident person who is happy to connect authentically with others.

  • When people lie, they often show physical signs of arousal like fidgeting. But fidgeting can also happen when you’re nervous or feeling intimidated, even if you’re telling the truth. Professional communicators train themselves not to fidget to avoid appearing suspicious.

  • Watch people’s reactions carefully when speaking to “read” their body language, like Hans the horse did. Adjust what you’re saying based on their reactions.

  • Before an important conversation, visualize yourself being confident, credible, and charismatic. Picture the positive outcome you want. This primes you to come across your best.

  • Use all the techniques to exude confidence, build credibility, and develop charisma. Doing so helps make people feel like a million bucks when they talk to you.

Here is a summary of the key points in the passage:

  • Small talk is difficult for many people, even top executives and performers who have stage fright. It can cause anxiety.

  • Small talk phobia may be caused by high levels of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Some people are predisposed to it.

  • Small talk skills can be learned through techniques. Confidence in having techniques can reduce anxiety.

  • The author had great difficulty making a phone call to invite a boy to a dance due to anxiety. When she finally did, the boy she reached was not the one she intended to call but he graciously accepted.

  • This boy, Donnie, used excellent small talk skills to immediately put the author at ease. He became her first boyfriend.

  • Small talk is crucial as the first step to dynamic conversation and connecting with people. The goal is to move past just small talk.

  • Techniques can help you smoothly begin conversations without awkward silences, start positively, and progress to deeper conversation. Mastering them can make you a great conversationalist.

  • Small talk is not about conveying facts or clever words, it is about making a connection through matching moods and energy levels, like music.

  • Before speaking, observe your listener’s tone of voice, expression, and energy level to get a sense of their state of mind. Match their mood initially, even if just for a sentence or two. This helps put them at ease.

  • Salespeople need to match potential customers’ moods to build rapport. An upbeat salesperson will jar a downbeat browser.

  • Passionate delivery can make even mundane remarks engaging. Focus more on tone than content.

  • Common ground is built through empathizing and finding similarities. Making “unoriginal remarks” the listener can easily relate to breaks down barriers.

  • Don’t rush to clever banter. Elevate the conversation gradually once mutual comfort is established through mood matching. Shared passion and wit will emerge naturally.

In summary, attentiveness to others’ state of mind, empathic matching of mood, and passionate delivery are key to making a connection before conveying content. Small talk is about musical rapport, not facts.

  • Don’t worry too much about your first words when meeting someone. As long as you avoid negativity, almost anything you say to break the ice is fine. Deliver it with passion.

  • Wear or carry an unusual “Whatzit” item to give people an excuse to approach you and ask about it. This opens the conversation.

  • Use the “Whoozat” technique - ask the host who someone is, get a few facts, and use those to start a conversation.

  • “Eavesdrop In” - listen for a conversation opener and jump in with a relevant comment.

  • When asked where you’re from, don’t just name your city. Give an interesting fact or observation to continue the conversation.

  • Ask people about their jobs in an open-ended way to get more than just a one-word job title response.

The main ideas are to avoid negativity in your first words, use props or techniques to initiate conversations, and give open-ended responses to common questions to keep the conversation flowing. The focus is on being passionate and interested in the other person.

  • The author was invited to be the keynote speaker at an association event on networking and conversational skills. Upon arriving, he was introduced to the head of the association, Mrs. Devlin, who asked where he was from.

  • When he said “Washington D.C.”, she responded with “Columbus, Ohio” and waited expectantly for him to make stimulating conversation about her hometown. However, he drew a blank and struggled to think of anything interesting to say about Columbus.

  • This experience made him realize the importance of having a few engaging facts ready about your hometown, rather than just naming it. He calls this technique “Never the Naked City”.

  • He suggests learning some interesting facts about your city’s history, business, attractions etc. that you can use as “conversational bait” to get others talking. Tailor the facts you use to the interests of the conversational partner.

  • He provides examples of different facts he could have used to stimulate conversation with Mrs. Devlin, depending on her interests and background.

  • When asked “What do you do?”, give details and a brief story people can relate to rather than just your job title. He calls this “Never the Naked Job”.

  • When introducing people, add some conversational bait by including each person’s interests, mutual connections etc. rather than just their names.

Here are a few suggestions for keeping a conversation going when you hit a wall:

  • Ask an open-ended question based on what they just said. For example, “You mentioned going to Bali last year. What was that trip like?”

  • Pick up on a detail they mentioned and ask them to tell you more about it. “You said the food in Bali was incredible. What local dishes did you try there?”

  • Paraphrase what they just said to show you’re listening and to give yourself a moment to think of what to say next. “A trip to Bali sounds amazing. You got to fully immerse yourself in the culture and try lots of new things.”

  • Share a related experience or story of your own. “Seeing new places is so eye-opening. I had a similarly life-changing experience when I backpacked through Southeast Asia after college.”

  • Change topics by making an observation and inviting their thoughts. “Speaking of travel, I’ve noticed more people working remotely and taking their job on the road lately. What do you think of that trend?”

  • If you’re truly stuck, be honest! Say something like “I’m drawing a blank on what to say next, but I’m enjoying our conversation. What else have you been up to lately?” Admitting you’re at a loss can open things up again.

The key is listening closely to what they say and responding with interest and engagement. With practice, you’ll get more comfortable keeping conversations flowing.

Here are a few key points about the Encore! technique:

  • Encore! involves asking someone to repeat a story they previously told you to a new audience. This makes them feel like their story was interesting and worth hearing again.

  • It’s a good technique when conversation is dying or you want to highlight someone’s skills as a storyteller. It puts them center stage.

  • Be sure to pick a story you think the new audience will enjoy. Avoid anything too long or personal.

  • Flatter the storyteller by saying something like “You absolutely have to hear the hilarious story John told me earlier about his summer job mishaps!”

  • Allow the storyteller to demur at first if they want to appear modest. But insist the new group will love hearing it.

  • Use Encore! sparingly so it continues to feel special when you request an encore performance.

  • Be ready to gently rescue the storyteller if the repeated story goes on too long or gets boring for the new listeners.

The key is making the storyteller feel interesting and admired for their tale without allowing the encore to drag on too long. Used right, it’s a great way to highlight someone’s skills and energize a languishing conversation.

Here are a few suggestions for politely getting to know someone’s occupation without directly asking “What do you do?“:

  • Ask open-ended questions that allow the person to share about themselves: “What keeps you busy these days?” or “What do you enjoy spending your time on?” This invites them to discuss their interests and activities, including their work if they want to bring it up.

  • Look for clues in the conversation and follow up on them. If they mention meetings, projects, co-workers, etc. you can ask about those topics. “How did your meeting go yesterday?”

  • Share about your own work interests and hobbies first to invite reciprocity. “I’ve been learning woodworking in my spare time. Do you have any hands-on hobbies you enjoy?”

  • If it comes up naturally later in the conversation, you can ask directly but sensitively: “If you don’t mind me asking, what is your line of work?” or “What kind of work are you involved in currently?”

  • Focus on learning about their passions, skills and values before probing about their job title. Find common interests and experiences you can bond over.

The key is showing genuine interest in the whole person, not just their occupation. With practice, you can discover mutual interests and make valuable connections without putting someone on the spot about their work status.

  • Instead of asking “What do you do?” which can come across as prying, ask “How do you spend most of your time?” This allows the other person to share as much or as little about their work as they want.

  • When someone asks you “What do you do?”, have a prepared “nutshell resume” - a brief description of your work that highlights the benefits you provide. Tailor it to the specific interests of the person you’re speaking with.

  • For personal situations, prepare an interesting nutshell description of your life to make yourself sound fun. Punch up your life story to capture people’s interest.

  • Use rich vocabulary words, but make sure they fit smoothly into your natural speaking style. Don’t force in big words just to try to sound smart.

  • Acquiring a rich vocabulary is easy - you only need to learn about 50 new words to sound impressive. Look up common words in a thesaurus and try out new synonyms.

  • When complimenting someone, use creative, colorful words beyond just “pretty” or “nice.” Variety makes a better impression.

  • In conversation, don’t jump in with “me too!” when someone mentions a shared interest. Let them talk and reveal your similarity later for more impact.

  • Use the word “you” liberally - people instinctively pay more attention when hearing about themselves. Ask questions starting with “you” to show interest in others.

  • Reveal similarities gradually and let people discover them themselves where possible. This makes the connection more powerful than blurting them out up front.

  • Overall, focus on using expressive language, letting others speak, and drawing out similarities skillfully rather than abruptly to have memorable and enriching conversations. A relatively small vocabulary expansion and these techniques can make a big difference.

Here are the key points from the passage:

  • Starting sentences with “you” (called “Comm-YOU-nication”) grabs the listener’s attention, gets a more positive response, and saves them from having to translate into “me” terms. It pushes their pride button.

  • Big Winners use “you” frequently in conversation to sound more sane. Mental health patients use “I” and “me” much more often.

  • Varying your smiles makes you seem more perceptive and thoughtful. Using the same smile with everyone makes it lose meaning, like a fake dollar bill.

  • Review your “smile repertoire” to have the right one for each situation. Reserve an extra big smile just for important people.

  • Quick “pickup” smiles can be effective to engineer a meeting with someone new. Studies show eye contact and smiling gets more positive response from men in bars.

  • An “exclusive” smile reserved just for one person packs more punch than sprinkling smiles everywhere.

The main idea is that strategic use of “you” and tailoring your smiles for each person and situation give you more influence and likability.

  • Clichés should be avoided when speaking with highly successful people, as they may see it as a sign of unoriginal thinking. Come up with your own clever phrases instead.

  • Study public speaking techniques used by professionals. Use vocal inflection, gestures, pacing, etc. to add drama and impact to your everyday conversations.

  • Collect and memorize powerful phrases, quotations, and humor that you can draw upon for any situation. Relevant humor especially can liven up a conversation.

  • Be careful your material is fitting for the circumstance. Something that works wonderfully in one setting may bomb in another.

  • Vivid imagery sticks in people’s minds better than clichés. Describe feelings by creating your own lively similes and metaphors.

  • Give your ideas or products catchy names that will capture people’s imagination and help them remember you.

The main point is to make your communication more dynamic, memorable and tailored to each situation when conversing with highly successful people. Avoid seeming unoriginal or inappropriate.

  • Use clever quotations, rhymes, and humor in your speech to engage your audience, but ensure they are relevant.

  • Call things directly by their real names, don’t hide behind euphemisms. Big winners are direct.

  • Avoid teasing others as it can backfire. Big winners are sensitive to others.

  • When delivering bad news, share the sentiment of the receiver.

  • Use the “broken record” technique of repeating your original response word-for-word when someone insists on an unwelcome line of questioning. Big winners stand firm.

The passages provide advice for speaking and communicating like “Big Winners” - being direct yet sensitive, using humor and discretion, and standing firm in the face of unwelcome probing. The techniques help establish credibility and authority.

  • When you find yourself among a group of people who all share an interest or profession you know nothing about, don’t panic. You can still participate in the conversation.

  • Learn just enough about the topic to ask informed questions that will get people talking. Read a book, do some quick research online, etc.

  • Ask open-ended questions that show curiosity and get others to open up, like “What exactly does that term mean?” or “What do you enjoy most about that hobby?”

  • People love to talk about their field of expertise. Your knowledgeable questions will make them feel you are worth talking to.

  • Don’t try to fake comprehensive knowledge, just enough to demonstrate sincere interest. This will be more successful than pretending you know all about the topic.

  • Like New Yorkers riding the subway, most people only know a lot about their own field or interests, not everything. You just need enough knowledge to get them started talking.

  • Be an informed conversationalist, not an expert. With a little preparation, you can find common ground with any group and make them feel you are one of them.

  • Rita is an avid bowler who is single and looking for a relationship. Her friend Walter is a white water rafting enthusiast who is also single. When introduced, they struggled to find common ground to talk about because they knew little about each other’s hobbies.

  • The author recommends “Scramble Therapy” - trying new hobbies or activities outside your normal routine - as a way to become conversant in topics that otherwise would be foreign. By having even one experience with an activity, you gain 80% of the insider knowledge needed to converse about it.

  • The author gave an example of trying scuba diving once, which allowed them to learn the lingo and ask knowledgeable questions of divers afterwards. This technique works for any hobby or interest.

  • It also helps when conversing with people about their jobs and professions. Learning just a few key insider questions for a given field allows you to open conversations confidently.

  • To learn key questions, you can ask friends in that profession for the typical opening questions they ask each other. This gives you enough knowledge to start and steer conversations.

  • Learn some key phrases (“gobbledygook”) in the language of the profession you’ll be interacting with. Insiders appreciate when outsiders make the effort to learn their lingo.

  • Ask an insider in that field to teach you some good opening questions and industry buzzwords. Even just a few phrases can make you sound like an insider.

  • Find out the “hot button” issues in their industry that outsiders may not know about but insiders care deeply about. Push those buttons in your conversations to get people engaged.

  • Read different sections of the newspaper, even ones you normally skip, to familiarize yourself with different worlds and be able to discuss various topics.

  • Use the right insider terminology and avoid outsider words that will reveal you as unknowledgeable. The right word can help you make an insider connection.

  • Read industry trade journals to really learn insider lingo and issues. Hobbies and special interests also have their own magazines to give you lingo to converse with enthusiasts.

The key ideas are to learn some insider language, discover their hot button issues, and expose yourself to more specialized worlds through reading to fuel insightful conversations. A little targeted preparation goes a long way in sounding like an insider.

  • The author got interested in buying different magazines each week, particularly Flower and Garden Magazine. This paid off when a potential consulting client who had beautiful gardens invited the author to dinner. The author was able to impress her with knowledge of flowers and gardening terms learned from the magazine.

  • The author recommends reading magazines related to clients’ interests in order to sound knowledgeable and establish common ground. This can help build rapport and trust.

  • The author provides some examples like reading golf magazines for golfers, accounting magazines for accountants, etc. The broader point is to read industry publications related to clients and prospects to gain insider knowledge.

  • This “read their rags” technique allows you to relate to clients better and sound like an industry insider, even if you’re not. The author considers this a valuable networking and relationship-building tactic.

  • To get the best deals, learn some insider terminology relevant to the product or service you want to purchase. This signals to the seller that you are knowledgeable, and they are more likely to offer you a good price.

  • Before making a big purchase from one vendor, visit their competitors first. Pick up industry lingo that you can then use when negotiating with the vendor you want to buy from.

  • People are more comfortable with and receptive to those they perceive as similar to themselves in beliefs, values, and experiences. Mirror the body language and movement style of the person you are interacting with to create subconscious feelings of similarity.

  • If you are in sales, match your demeanor and presentation to both the customer and the class of product you are selling. An upscale product deserves refined salesmanship.

  • Ask conversational questions to uncover mutual views, experiences, or life events to explicitly establish commonality with someone.

  • Compliment others on possessions, accomplishments, or values that you authentically admire to make them feel good about their choices. People like those who appreciate the things they value.

  • Reveal appropriate personal information about yourself that matches up with someone’s interests or experiences to help them feel more kindred with you.

  • Echoing means repeating back the exact words and phrases someone uses when speaking with them. This creates rapport by making them feel heard and understood.

  • People from different regions, jobs, backgrounds, etc. use different words for the same things. Echoing their unique words shows you’re on the same wavelength.

  • Failing to echo can distance you from someone. Use the same terms they do for their job, possessions, interests, etc.

  • Echoing shows you respect others’ preferences for how they describe things. It helps you communicate sensitively.

  • Certain groups prefer specific terms due to historical connotations. Use the politically correct terminology to avoid offending.

  • Echoing is an easy but powerful way to make people feel you truly understand them. It connects you subliminally through your shared language.

  • The author had a roommate named Brenda who was obsessed with tap dancing. Brenda said she became interested in tap “from the moment she first opened her ears”, indicating she was very auditory.

  • The author learned about neurolinguistic programming (NLP), which says each person has a strongest sense - sight, sound, touch, smell or taste. Brenda was clearly auditory.

  • The author tried using auditory references like “that sounds good” with Brenda and felt she paid more attention.

  • However, the author found it difficult to discern people’s primary senses because they use references to different senses at different times.

  • The solution is simply to use references to ALL the senses - sight, sound, touch, smell and taste - when speaking to anyone. This covers all bases and connects with people through their dominant sense.

  • For example, say “I see what you’re saying” as well as “I hear you.” Mention how ideas feel, smell or even taste. Covering all the senses in your speech ensures you hit their main perception.

In summary, using references to all five senses, not just the one you suspect is primary, is an easy way to empathize with listeners. It connects your message through their dominant perception.

  • Use “anatomically correct empathizers” to match your language to how the other person is speaking. If they use visual language, respond with visual phrases. If they use auditory or kinesthetic language, match that.

  • As people get closer, their conversation progresses through levels: 1) clichés, 2) facts, 3) feelings/personal questions, 4) “we” statements.

  • Use “premature we” to create a sense of intimacy by skipping to levels 3 and 4, asking personal questions and using “we” prematurely.

  • Create an “instant history” with someone by finding a funny or memorable moment from your first meeting, turning it into a private joke phrase, and using it when you see them again to recall your history.

The techniques help make people feel closer to you by matching their language and creating a sense of shared experience and intimacy, even if you just met.

  • Praise and flattery can be effective techniques for getting what you want from someone, but they must be done skillfully. Unskilled or insincere praise can backfire.

  • The risks of direct praise include seeming obsequious or self-serving. Indirect praise through the grapevine is more potent.

  • Positive gossip spreads fast. Compliment someone indirectly by praising them to their friend or colleague.

  • Be a carrier pigeon of compliments you hear about others. Passing on praise makes you appreciated.

  • Send news clippings or updates to show you’re thinking of others’ interests.

  • Imply something positive about someone rather than giving a direct compliment. Lets them draw their own flattering conclusion.

  • The art of praise is complex, but mastering it can help win friends, influence people, and boost egos. The key is sincerity, timing and skill.

  • Grapevine Glory, Carrier Pigeon Kudos, Implied Magnificence, and Accidental Adulation are four covert ways to compliment others. Slip praise into conversations indirectly.

  • The Killer Compliment is a very specific, personal compliment that makes a powerful impression. Use it judiciously on new acquaintances.

  • Little Strokes are short words of praise you can give anyone anytime. Use them liberally to appreciate people’s everyday efforts and achievements.

  • It’s important to notice and appreciate when someone has done something good. Don’t let loved ones wonder if you’ve noticed their efforts. Compliment them on jobs well done with Little Strokes.

  • Little gestures like a smile, kind word, or touch mean a lot to people. Small compliments make someone feel appreciated.

  • Timing is important when giving compliments. The best time is right after someone accomplishes something, while they are still euphoric. Delayed praise misses the moment.

  • Be generous with compliments, even if they aren’t completely sincere. A little white lie is okay to make someone feel good about themselves.

  • Americans are often awkward at receiving compliments. Take a cue from the French phrase “Vous êtes gentil” - reflect the praise back to the giver to show appreciation.

  • Asking caring questions shows interest in someone. Boomerang good feelings back to the asker to make them feel appreciated too.

  • To deeply compliment someone close, play the Tombstone Game. Ask what they’d want etched on their tombstone representing their proudest achievement. It reveals their self-perception.

  • On the phone, people can’t see your facial expressions, body language, smiles, nods, etc. that convey your personality. So you need to translate these “gestures” into sound to get your personality across.

  • Use phrases like “Uh huh”, “I hear you”, “I see”, “Oh that’s great” to let them know you’re nodding and agreeing. Say things like “What a surprise!” or “You don’t say!” to convey surprise.

  • Give verbal smiles like “Oh wow, that’s funny!” Match phrases to your personality.

  • Make your vocal energy 30% bigger than normal to compensate for loss of visual cues.

  • Use the caller’s name more often as a “verbal caress” to create intimacy when you can’t touch them or see them. Saying their name makes them feel special.

  • In summary, turn your gestures into talk and punch up your vocal energy to convey your engaging personality over the phone. Shower the conversation with the caller’s name to connect.

  • Saying someone’s name frequently in person can sound manipulative, but on the phone it keeps their attention and recreates a sense of familiarity. Use people’s names more often on the phone than in person.

  • Don’t answer the phone with a big smile - answer professionally. Then when you hear who is calling, let a smile come through in your voice to make them feel special.

  • If screening calls, have your staff first say they’ll put the caller through before asking who it is. This avoids making people feel screened.

  • Even powerful people rely on assistants to screen their calls and manage communications. Don’t take it personally if you can’t get directly through to someone important. Work graciously with their assistant.

In essence, use people’s names, express enthusiasm specifically for them and their reason for calling, and don’t take screening personally, as these are common practices even for big players. A positive phone attitude gets better results.

  • The author became friends with Mrs. Big Cat (Sylvia) when consulting for her husband’s organization. One day they were having tea and the phone rang.

  • It was a Mr. Creighton, a fundraiser for a charity Mr. Big Cat was considering donating to. Creighton had called before when Mr. Big Cat was out and hadn’t properly introduced himself or been polite to Mrs. Big Cat.

  • This irritated Mrs. Big Cat as it showed Creighton had no manners or sensitivity. At dinner she could influence her husband’s opinion of Creighton either positively or negatively based on this.

  • The author learns an important lesson - always identify yourself politely and make friends with the spouse when calling someone’s home. They often hold influence over decisions. Similarly, make friends with an executive’s secretary who can impact their opinion of you.

In summary, the secret is that Mrs. Big Cat is the real brains behind the operation. Salute the spouse at home and the secretary in the office.

  • When leaving an answering machine message, keep it short, friendly, and professional. Avoid lengthy inspirational messages or boasts about your accomplishments.

  • Change your outgoing message daily to sound conscientious and reliable. Little imperfections like a cough make it sound more natural.

  • Use a “cliffhanger” technique in your message to entice the person to call you back, like “I have the answer to that question you asked last week.”

  • When reaching an assistant, use “Is he/she in?” instead of the person’s name to sound like an old friend who calls frequently.

  • If you hear noises like a ringing phone during a call, acknowledge it by asking if they need to take care of it. This shows you are considerate.

  • Translate time references to the other person’s time zone when appropriate to show excellent communication skills.

In summary, use various techniques like cliffhangers, casual language, time zone translating, and acknowledging background noises to come across as an exceptionally thoughtful communicator on the phone.

  • Listen to important phone conversations again by recording them to pick up on subtleties you may have missed the first time. This “instant replay” technique can help you catch key details.

  • Make sure to check the legality of recording calls in your state and get consent if required. Never use recordings for any purpose other than your own review.

  • Instant replay allows you to confirm important details like addresses without bothering your caller multiple times. It can also help cover up lack of knowledge on a topic by allowing you to review terminology afterwards.

  • Going beyond the words, instant replay lets you tune into the real enthusiasm or hesitation in someone’s voice. A hesitant “yes” may not mean what you think.

  • Approach parties strategically like a politician would. Consider who you want to meet, when to arrive to meet certain people, what your goals are, why you want to attend, where the party is being held, and how you will accomplish your objectives. Arrive early and leave when you’ve met your goals.

  • Politicians arrive at parties without food or drink in hand so they can focus fully on mingling. They eat beforehand.

  • They make memorable entrances by stopping dramatically in the doorway to slowly survey the room and situation before entering. This “rubbernecking” allows them to assess the scene and choose who to approach.

  • Rather than waiting for others to approach them, politicians strategically choose who they want to meet at the party by making intense eye contact and observing people’s expressions and body language for clues about their lives and potential compatibility.

  • They follow up after parties by organizing the business cards collected and planning personalized outreach to cement those new contacts.

The main themes are that politicians are very strategic in how they navigate party mingling - from their entrance to how they survey the room for promising contacts to how they follow up afterwards. Their focused techniques help them use parties productively for networking.

  • When looking to make meaningful connections with people, take an active role in seeking out individuals you find interesting rather than waiting for them to approach you.

  • Explore people’s faces and movements to discover their unique beauty and qualities. This will help you make more authentic connections.

  • Use open body language - arms uncrossed, palms up - to signal warmth and acceptance to others. This makes people more comfortable approaching you.

  • Position yourself in high-traffic spots like doorways so you are more visible and accessible to others at a gathering.

  • Use the technique of “tracking” - remembering small personal details people share with you - to make them feel valued and important. Politicians master this skill.

  • Overall, be proactive in choosing who you want to connect with rather than waiting to be chosen. Making the first move can lead to transformative relationships in your life.

  • Eyeball Selling involves carefully observing a customer’s body language and nonverbal cues during a sales pitch, and tailoring what you say accordingly.

  • It means paying more attention to how a customer fidgets, twitches, squirms, etc than just listening to their words.

  • Salespeople can discover who the decision maker is by saying something slightly confusing and seeing who the others look to.

  • Head nodding means “yes I’ll buy”, head shaking means “no”. Arms crossed means closed off, so give them something to open their arms.

  • Reaching out for objects and fondling items means the customer is engaged and thinking.

  • The bottom line is that customers give involuntary physical cues that the skilled salesperson watches for and reacts to, rather than just delivering a canned sales pitch. Eyeball Selling is about tuning into these nonverbal signals.

  • Big Winners don’t react to or comment on others’ minor mistakes and embarrassing moments (e.g. spilled drinks, dropped trays). They ignore “bloopers”.

  • Little losers call attention to others’ slip-ups with comments like “Whoops!”, “Butterfingers!”, or laughing at them. This can humiliate people.

  • If you want to be seen as a Big Winner, adopt the mentality of “See No Bloopers, Hear No Bloopers”. Pretend not to notice others’ minor spills, slips, fumbles, and blunders.

  • Ignoring others’ harmless bloopers helps them preserve their dignity and avoids embarrassing them further. It’s a subtle way to demonstrate graciousness, class, and maturity.

  • The next time someone near you drops something or makes a minor mistake, simply continue your conversation as if nothing happened. Don’t call attention to their blunder with a reaction or comment. Practice this to exude Big Winner vibes.

  • A friend habitually points out when the narrator sneezes, stumbles, or looks tired. While well-meaning, this is annoying as it draws attention to minor failings. The narrator wishes the friend would be silent about these small imperfections.

  • When someone makes a minor mistake like spilling a drink at dinner, don’t draw attention to it. Ignore slips and gaffes to allow others to maintain a dignified image. Only point out big mistakes if absolutely necessary.

  • If someone is telling a story and gets interrupted before the end, help them get back to it once the interruption is over. This shows sensitivity and they will appreciate you enabling them to finish.

  • Reveal potential mutual benefits upfront when proposing meetings or asking favors. State what you stand to gain and what the other person gets out of it. Honesty about motivations prevents misunderstandings.

  • When asking a favor, express how much it would mean to you. Letting someone know they are uniquely able to help you is rewarding for them.

  • After someone does you a favor, wait a while before asking for another. Space requests out so as not to seem demanding. Gratitude, time, and reciprocity keeps the favor fabric strong.

  • There are three unspoken “safe havens” where even tough people know not to attack or confront others: parties, meals, and the bedroom.

  • At parties, confrontation is off limits. Parties are for pleasantries and good fellowship. Even enemies will smile at each other across the buffet table.

  • Business meals are sacred times for general, non-threatening conversation. Tough negotiations or unpleasant business should not be discussed over meals.

  • The bedroom is the ultimate safe haven. Even the biggest players know not to bring up relationship issues in bed. Bedrooms are for pleasure and intimacy, not arguments.

  • Violating these unwritten rules can damage relationships and your reputation. Big players carefully observe how others respect these safe zones to assess their skills and character.

  • Timing is crucial. Wait for the right time and place to bring up difficult subjects. Don’t confront people in relaxed social settings or intimate moments. Choose the proper setting to have serious discussions.

  • Big winners know that business should not be discussed at social occasions. They enjoy each other’s company over meals and save business talks for the conference table.

  • Chance encounters should be used for friendly small talk, not attempts to push business. Trying to force business in casual settings makes you look small and turns off big players.

  • In sensitive communications, let the other person express their full story and emotions before jumping in. Drain their tank completely so they can really listen to you.

  • When appropriate, emphasize emotion over just facts. Hear the full story but also connect with the feelings.

  • Service people should let customers share information and feelings before jumping into data gathering. Connecting emotionally helps the sale.

  • The bottom line is that separating business from social settings, empathizing emotionally when appropriate, and allowing full self-expression makes communication more effective with big winners.

  • Buttercups are complimentary letters to someone’s boss praising their good work. They are a clever way to get favors and good service.

  • The author used a buttercup on an assistant manager at Staples by praising him and asking for his boss’s name. It resulted in her big photocopying job being done early and the assistant manager giving her great service after that.

  • The author’s friend Tim, a travel agent, says buttercups are like an insurance policy to get good service in the future.

  • The author now has a standard buttercup letter in her computer to send when someone gives great service. It thanks the boss for hiring the employee and says the employee’s good service will keep the author’s business.

In summary, buttercups are preemptive praise letters to bosses that help ensure continued good service from employees. The author has found them effective at securing favors and preferential treatment from service providers.

Here are the key points in summarizing the passage:

  • The author has sent letters praising employees to their supervisors at places like parking lots, insurance companies, and stores where she shops. She believes this is why she gets good service from these places.

  • She advises being careful when asking for a supervisor’s name, as it can make an employee nervous. Couch it in a compliment like “You are terrific. What is your supervisor’s name? I’d like to write him/her a letter.”

  • Writing positive letters about employees to their supervisors makes you a VIP in their eyes.

  • The next technique discusses how to stand out as a VIP when in a group setting.

Here are some key books on interpersonal communication and improving social skills:

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie - The classic book on people skills.

  • The Like Switch: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Influencing, Attracting, and Winning People Over by Jack Schafer - Focuses on rapport building and nonverbal communication.

  • Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Kerry Patterson et al. - How to discuss difficult topics effectively.

  • The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane - Practical techniques to become more charismatic.

  • Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman - Understanding and managing emotions in relationships.

  • Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss - A former FBI hostage negotiator’s guide to negotiating and influencing.

  • Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo - Public speaking and communication skills from analyzing the most popular TED talks.

  • Captivate by Vanessa Van Edwards - Improving conversation skills and likeability.

  • The Likeability Factor by Tim Sanders - Building meaningful relationships in business and life.

Some classic psychology books like Influence by Robert Cialdini are also very relevant. Let me know if you need any specific book recommendations!

Here are brief summaries of the key points from each of the sources listed:

Gray, John - Men and women have innate psychological differences in communication, relationships, coping with stress, self-esteem, and emotional needs.

Hayakawa - Language shapes perceptions, attitudes, motivations, and behaviors. Choosing words carefully is key to effective communication.

Hess - The eyes reveal inner emotions and thought processes through involuntary movements and changes in pupil size.

Lavington - First impressions happen quickly. People make snap judgments of others unconsciously.

LeBoeuf - Relationships are key in sales and business. Use empathy and focus on the customer.

Lewis - Mindset, attitude, and inner dialogues impact outcomes. Optimize internal conversations.

Lowndes - Communication techniques to develop rapport, influence anyone, and read body language signals.

Mackay - Build relationships before needing them. Listen and give honest feedback.

Martinet - Mingling and networking skills to meet new people and build connections.

Mehrabian - Nonverbal communication carries more meaning than words. Signals like tone and body language communicate attitudes.

Meyer - Listening fully without interrupting or biased filters builds understanding.

Michael - Giving sincere compliments makes people feel valued.

Morris - Insights on human nature and social behaviors from an anthropological lens.

Nierenberg & Callero - Meta-communication analysis examines subtleties and implications beneath surface conversations.

O’Barr & Atkins - Differences in men’s and women’s conversational styles and social status impacts.

Pease - Body language reveals inner feelings and meanings beyond the spoken words.

Perper - Biological and evolutionary perspectives on flirting, courtship signals, and attraction.

Qubein - Public speaking, influencing, and communication best practices for leaders.

Rabin - Techniques to attract potential romantic partners using body language, voice, and more.

Rackham - Consultative sales approach through asking questions, listening, and matching needs.

Richardson - Move from pitching to asking questions and listening to customers’ needs.

Roane - Strategies for confidently interacting at networking events and mingling.

Sannito & McGovern - Psychology techniques to persuade juries and read people in legal settings.

Slutsky & An - Public speaking tips for preparation, delivery, body language, and engaging audience.

Tannen - Differences in conversational styles between genders and cultural groups.

Thibaut & Kelley - Concepts of interdependence, power, and exchanges in relationships and groups.

Walters - Conversational techniques to connect with anyone through humor, interest, and listening.

Ziglar - Motivational sales advice focused on attitude, relationships, and serving customers.

Leil Lowndes is an author and communications expert based in New York City. She has written articles for popular magazines like Redbook, New Woman, Psychology Today, Penthouse, and Cosmopolitan. She is the author of four books, including the bestsellers How to Talk to Anyone and How to Make Anyone Fall in Love with You.

Lowndes invites readers to share any tips or tricks from “Big Winners” in their lives so she can include them, credited to the sender, in her next book. Her mailing address and email are provided for submitting these tips. Her website is also listed.

The copyright and publication information for the book is also included.

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About Matheus Puppe