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How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships

How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships

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How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships

4/5 (93 ratings)
397 pages
5 hours
Mar 7, 2013

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Never be at a loss for words again!

Perfect your people skills with his fun, witty and informative guide, containing 92 little tricks to create big success in personal and business relationships.

In How To Talk To Anyone, bestselling relationships author and internationally renowned life coach Leil Lowndes reveals the secrets and psychology behind successful communication. These extremely usable and intelligent techniques include how to:

  • Work a party like a politician works a room
  • Be an insider in any crowd
  • Use key words and phrases to guide the conversation
  • Use body language to connect

This is the key to having successful conversations with anyone, any time.

Mar 7, 2013

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About the author

Leil Lowndes is an internationally-acclaimed communications expert and founder and director of ‘The Project’, a sexual research and counselling organisation based in New York. She has 20 years’ worth of experience consulting, giving lectures and holding seminars in communication skills for corporations, associations, and governments around the world. Her work has been translated into 19 languages, and critically acclaimed by both Time magazine and The New York Times.

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How to Talk to Anyone - Leil Lowndes

The moment two humans lay eyes on each other has awesome potency. The first sight of you is a brilliant holograph. It burns its way into your new acquaintance’s eyes and can stay emblazoned in his or her memory forever.

Artists are sometimes able to capture this quicksilver, fleeting emotional response. I have a friend, Robert Grossman, an accomplished caricature artist who draws regularly for Forbes, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone and other popular North American publications. Bob has a unique gift for capturing not only the physical appearance of his subjects, but zeroing in on the essence of their personalities. The bodies and souls of hundreds of luminaries radiate from his sketch pad. One glance at his caricatures of famous people and you can see, for instance, the insecure arrogance of Madonna, the imperiousness of Newt Gingrich, the bitchiness of Leona Helmsley.

Sometimes at a party, Bob will do a quick sketch on a cocktail napkin of a guest. Hovering over Bob’s shoulder, the onlookers gasp as they watch their friend’s image and essence materialize before their eyes. When he’s finished drawing, he puts his pen down and hands the napkin to the subject. Often a puzzled look comes over the subject’s face. He or she usually mumbles some politeness like, ‘Well, er, that’s great. But it really isn’t me.’

The crowd’s convincing crescendo of ‘Oh yes it is!’ drowns the subject out and squelches any lingering doubt. The confused subject is left to stare back at the world’s view of himself or herself in the napkin.

Once when I was visiting Bob’s studio, I asked him how he could capture people’s personalities so well. He said, ‘It’s simple. I just look at them.’

‘No,’ I asked, ‘How do you capture their personalities? Don’t you have to do a lot of research about their lifestyle, their history?’

‘No, I told you, Leil, I just look at them.’


He went on to explain, ‘Almost every facet of people’s personalities is evident from their appearance, their posture, the way they move. For instance …’ he said, calling me over to a file where he kept his caricatures of political figures.

‘See,’ Bob said, pointing to angles on various presidential body parts, ‘here’s the boyishness of Clinton,’ showing me his half smile; ‘the awkwardness of George Bush,’ pointing to his shoulder angle; ‘the charm of Reagan,’ putting his finger on the ex-president’s smiling eyes; ‘the shiftiness of Nixon,’ pointing to the furtive tilt of his head. Digging a little deeper into his file, he pulled out Franklin Delano Roosevelt and, pointing to the nose high in the air, ‘Here’s the pride of FDR.’ It’s all in the face and the body.

First impressions are indelible. Why? Because in our fast-paced information-overload world of multiple stimuli bombarding us every second, people’s heads are spinning. They must form quick judgments to make sense of the world and get on with what they have to do. So, whenever people meet you, they take an instant mental snapshot. That image of you becomes the data they deal with for a very long time.

Your body shrieks before your lips can speak

Is their data accurate? Amazingly enough, yes. Even before your lips part and the first syllable escapes, the essence of YOU has already axed its way into their brains. The way you look and the way you move is more than 80 per cent of someone’s first impression of you. Not one word need be spoken.

I’ve lived and worked in countries where I didn’t speak the native language. Yet, without one understandable syllable spoken between us, the years proved my first impressions were on target. Whenever I met new colleagues, I could tell instantly how friendly they felt toward me, how confident they were, and approximately how much stature they had in the company. I could sense, just from seeing them move, which were the heavyweights and which were the welterweights.

I have no extrasensory skill. You’d know, too. How? Because before you have had time to process a rational thought, you get a sixth sense about someone. Studies have shown emotional reactions occur even before the brain has had time to register what’s causing that reaction.⁴ Thus the moment someone looks at you, he or she experiences a massive hit, the impact of which lays the groundwork for the entire relationship. Bob told me he captures that first hit in creating his caricatures.

Deciding to pursue my own agenda for How to Talk to Anyone, I asked, ‘Bob, if you wanted to portray somebody really cool – you know, intelligent, strong, charismatic, principled, fascinating, caring, interested in other people …’

‘Easy,’ Bob interrupted. He knew precisely what I was getting at. ‘Just give ’em great posture, a heads-up look, a confident smile, and a direct gaze.’ It’s the ideal image for somebody who’s a Somebody.

How to look like a somebody

A friend of mine, Karen, is a highly respected professional in the home-furnishings business. Her husband is an equally big name in the communications field. They have two small sons.

Whenever Karen is at a home-furnishings industry event, everyone pays deference to her. She’s a Very Important Person in that world. Her colleagues at conventions jostle for position just to be seen casually chatting with her and, they hope, be photographed rubbing elbows with her for industry bibles like Home Furnishings Executive and Furniture World.

Yet, Karen complains, when she accompanies her husband to communications functions, she might as well be a nobody. When she takes her kids to school functions, she’s just another mum. She once asked me, ‘Leil, how can I stand out from the crowd so people who don’t know me will approach me and at least assume I’m an interesting person?’ The techniques in this section accomplish precisely that. When you use the next nine techniques, you will come across as a special person to everyone you meet. You will stand out as a Somebody in whatever crowd you find yourself in, even if it’s not your crowd.

Let’s start with your smile.

Smile quick? or smile special?

In 1936, one of Dale Carnegie’s six musts in How to Win Friends and Influence People was SMILE! His edict has been echoed each decade by practically every communications guru who ever put pen to paper or mouth to microphone. However, at the turn of the millennium, it’s high time we re-examine the role of the smile in high-level human relations. When you dig deeper into Dale’s dictum, you’ll find a 1936 quick smile doesn’t always work. Especially nowadays.

The old-fashioned instant grin carries no weight with today’s sophisticated crowd. Look at world leaders, negotiators, and corporate giants. Not a smiling sycophant among them. Key Players in all walks of life enrich their smile so, when it does erupt, it has more potency and the world smiles with them.

Researchers have catalogued dozens of different types of smiles. They range from the tight rubber band of a trapped liar to the soft squishy smile of a tickled infant. There are warm smiles and cold smiles. There are real smiles and fake smiles. (You’ve seen plenty of those plastered on the faces of friends who say they’re ‘delighted you decided to drop by,’ and presidential candidates visiting your city who say they’re ‘thrilled to be in, uh … uh …’) Big Winners know their smile is one of their most powerful weapons, so they’ve fine-tuned it for maximum impact.

How to fine-tune your smile

I have an old college friend named Missy who, just last year, took over her family business, a company supplying corrugated boxes to manufacturers. One day she called saying she was coming to New York to court new clients and she invited me to dinner with several of her prospects. I was looking forward to once again seeing my friend’s quicksilver smile and hearing her contagious laugh. Missy was an incurable giggler, and that was part of her charm.

When her Dad passed away last year, she told me she was taking over the business. I thought Missy’s personality was a little bubbly to be a CEO in a tough business. But, hey, what do I know about the corrugated box biz?

She, I, and three of her potential clients met in the cocktail lounge of a midtown restaurant and, as we led them into the dining room, Missy whispered in my ear, ‘Please call me Melissa tonight.’

‘Of course,’ I winked back, ‘not many company presidents are called Missy!’ Soon after the maitre d’ seated us, I began noticing Melissa was a very different woman from the giggling girl I’d known in college. She was just as charming. She smiled as much as ever. Yet something was different. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

Although she was still effervescent, I had the distinct impression everything Melissa said was more insightful and sincere. She was responding with genuine warmth to her prospective clients, and I could tell they liked her, too. I was thrilled because my friend was scoring a knockout that night. By the end of the evening, Melissa had three big new clients.

Afterward, alone with her in the cab, I said, ‘Missy, you’ve really come a long way since you took over the company. Your whole personality has developed, well, a really cool, sharp corporate edge.’

‘Uh uh, only one thing has changed,’ she said.

‘What’s that?’

‘My smile,’ she said.

‘Your what?’ I asked incredulously.

‘My smile,’ she repeated as though I hadn’t heard her. ‘You see,’ she said, with a distant look coming into her eyes, ‘when Dad got sick and knew in a few years I’d have to take over the business, he sat me down and had a life-changing conversation with me. I’ll never forget his words. Dad said, Missy, Honey, remember that old song, ‘I Loves Ya, Honey, But Yer Feet’s Too Big?’ Well, if you’re going to make it big in the box business, let me say, I loves ya, Honey, but your smile’s too quick.

‘He then brought out a yellowed newspaper article quoting a study he’d been saving to show me when the time was right. It concerned women in business. The study showed women who were slower to smile in corporate life were perceived as more credible.’

As Missy talked, I began to think about women like Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir, Madeleine Albright, and other powerful women of their ilk. True, they were not known for their quick smiles.

Missy continued, ‘The study went on to say a big, warm smile is an asset. But only when it comes a little slower, because then it has more credibility.’ From that moment on, Missy explained, she gave clients and business associates her big smile. However, she trained her lips to erupt more slowly. Thus her smile appeared more sincere and personalized for the recipient.

That was it! Missy’s slower smile gave her personality a richer, deeper, more sincere cachet. Though the delay was less than a second, the recipients of her beautiful big smile felt it was special, and just for them.

I decided to do more research on the smile. When you’re in the market for shoes, you begin to look at everyone’s feet. When you decide to change your hairstyle, you look at everyone’s haircut. Well, for several months, I became a steady smile watcher. I watched smiles on the street. I watched smiles on TV. I watched the smiles of politicians, the clergy, corporate giants, and world leaders. My findings? Amidst the sea of flashing teeth and parting lips, I discovered the people perceived to have the most credibility and integrity were just ever so slower to smile. Then, when they did, their smiles seemed to seep into every crevice of their faces and envelop them like a slow flood. Thus I call the following technique The Flooding Smile.

Technique 1:

The flooding smile

Don’t flash an immediate smile when you greet someone, as though anyone who walked into your line of sight would be the beneficiary. Instead, look at the other person’s face for a second. Pause. Soak in their persona. Then let a big, warm, responsive smile flood over your face and overflow into your eyes. It will engulf the recipient like a warm wave. The split-second delay convinces people your flooding smile is genuine and only for them.

Let us now travel but a few inches north to two of the most powerful communications tools you possess, your eyes.

How to detonate those grenades resting on your nose

It’s only a slight exaggeration to say Helen of Troy could sink ships with her eyes and Davy Crockett could stare down a bear. Your eyes are personal grenades that have the power to detonate people’s emotions. Just as martial arts masters register their fists as lethal weapons, you can register your eyes as psychological lethal weapons when you master the following eye-contact techniques.

Big Players in the game of life look beyond the conventional wisdom that teaches ‘Keep good eye contact.’ For one, they understand that to certain suspicious or insecure people, intense eye contact can be a virulent intrusion.

When I was growing up, my family had a Haitian housekeeper whose fantasies were filled with witches, warlocks and black magic. Zola refused to be left alone in a room with Louie, my Siamese cat. ‘Louie looks right through me – sees my soul,’ she’d whisper to me fearfully.

In some cultures, intense eye contact is sorcery. In others, staring at someone can be threatening or disrespectful. Realizing this, Big Players in the international scene prefer to pack a book on cultural body-language differences in their carry-on rather than a Berlitz phrase book. In our culture, however, Big Winners know exaggerated eye contact can be extremely advantageous, especially between the sexes. In business, even when romance is not in the picture, strong eye contact packs a powerful wallop between men and women.

A Boston centre conducted a study to learn the precise effect.⁵ The researchers asked opposite-sex individuals to have a two-minute casual conversation. They tricked half their subjects into maintaining intense eye contact by directing them to count the number of times their partner blinked. They gave the other half of the subjects no special eye-contact directions for the chat.

When they questioned the subjects afterward, the unsuspecting blinkers reported significantly higher feelings of respect and fondness for their colleagues who, unbeknown to them, had simply been counting their blinks.

I’ve experienced the closeness intense eye contact engenders with a stranger firsthand. Once, when giving a seminar to several hundred people, one woman’s face in the crowd caught my attention. The participant’s appearance was not particularly unique. Yet she became the focus of my attention throughout my talk. Why? Because not for one moment did she take her eyes off my face. Even when I finished making a point and was silent, her eyes stayed hungrily on my face. I sensed she couldn’t wait to savour the next insight to spout from my lips. I loved it! Her concentration and obvious fascination inspired me to remember stories and make important points I’d long forgotten.

Right after my talk, I resolved to seek out this new friend who was so enthralled by my speech. As people were leaving the hall, I quickly sidled up behind my big fan. ‘Excuse me,’ I said. My fan kept walking. ‘Excuse me,’ I repeated a tad louder. My admirer didn’t vary her pace as she continued out the door. I followed her into the corridor and tapped her shoulder gently. This time she whirled around with a surprised look on her face. I mumbled some excuse about my appreciating her concentration on my talk and wanting to ask her a few questions.

‘Did you, uh, get much out of the seminar?’ I ventured.

‘Well, not really,’ she answered candidly. ‘I had difficulty understanding what you were saying because you were walking around on the platform facing different directions.’

In a heartbeat, I understood. The woman was hearing impaired. I did not captivate her as I had suspected. She was not intrigued by my talk as I had hoped. The only reason she kept her eyes glued on my face was because she was struggling to read my lips!

Nevertheless, her eye contact had given me such pleasure and inspiration during my talk that, tired as I was, I asked her to join me for coffee. I spent the next hour recapping my entire seminar just for her. Powerful stuff this eye contact.

Sticky eyes also means intelligent eyes

There is yet another argument for intense eye contact. In addition to awakening feelings of respect and affection, maintaining strong eye contact gives you the impression of being an intelligent and abstract thinker. Because abstract thinkers integrate incoming data more easily than concrete thinkers, they can continue looking into someone’s eyes even during the silences. Their thought processes are not distracted by peering into their partner’s peepers.

Back to our valiant psychologists. Yale University researchers, thinking they had the unswerving truth about eye contact, conducted another study which, they assumed, would confirm ‘the more eye contact, the more positive feelings.’ This time, they directed subjects to deliver a personally revealing monologue. They asked the listeners to react with a sliding scale of eye contact while their partners talked.

The results? All went as expected when women told their personal stories to women. Increased eye contact encouraged feelings of intimacy. But, whoops, it wasn’t so with the men. Some men felt hostile when stared at too long by another man. Other men felt threatened. Some few even suspected their partner was more interested than he should be and wanted to slug him.

Your partner’s emotional reaction to your profound gaze has a biological base. When you look intently at someone, it increases their heartbeat and shoots an adrenaline-like substance gushing through their veins.⁷ This is the same physical reaction people have when they start to fall in love. And when you consciously increase your eye contact, even during normal business or social interaction, people will feel they have captivated you.

Men talking to women and women talking to men or women: use the following technique, which I call Sticky Eyes, for the joy of the recipient – and for your own advantage. (Men, I’ll have a man-to-man modification of this technique for you in a moment.)

Technique 2:

Sticky eyes

Pretend your eyes are glued to your Conversation Partner’s with sticky warm toffee. Don’t break eye contact even after he or she has finished speaking. When you must look away, do it ever so slowly, reluctantly, stretching the gooey toffee until the tiny string finally breaks.

What about men’s eyes?

Now gentlemen: when talking to men, you, too, can use Sticky Eyes. Just make them a little less sticky when discussing personal matters with other men, lest your listener feel threatened or misinterpret your intentions. But do increase your eye contact slightly more than normal with men on day-to-day communications – and a lot more when talking to women. It broadcasts a visceral message of comprehension and respect.

I have a friend, Sammy, a salesman who unwittingly comes across as an arrogant chap. He doesn’t mean to, but sometimes his brusque manner makes it look like he’s running roughshod over people’s feelings.

Once while we were having dinner together in a restaurant, I told him about the Sticky Eyes technique. I guess he took it to heart. When the waiter came over, Sammy, uncharacteristically, instead of bluntly blurting out his order with his nose in the menu, looked at the waiter. He smiled, gave his order for the appetizer, and kept his eyes on the waiter’s for an extra second before looking down again at the menu to choose the main dish. I can’t tell you how different Sammy seemed to me just then! He came across as a sensitive and caring man, and all it took was two extra seconds of eye contact. I saw the effect it had on the waiter, too. We received exceptionally gracious service the rest of the evening.

A week later Sammy called me and said, ‘Leil, Sticky Eyes has changed my life. I’ve been following it to a T. with women, I make my eyes real sticky, and with men slightly sticky. And now everybody’s treating me with such deference. I think it’s part of the reason I’ve made more sales this week than all last month!’

If you deal with customers or clients in your professional life, Sticky Eyes is a definite boon to your bottom line. To most people in our culture, profound eye contact signals trust, knowledge, an ‘I’m here for you’ attitude.

Let’s carry Sticky Eyes one step further. Like a potent medicine that has the power to kill or cure, the next eye-contact technique has the potential to captivate or annihilate.

Bring on the big guns

Now we haul in the heavy eyeball artillery: very sticky eyes or superglue eyes. Let’s call them Epoxy Eyes. Big Bosses use Epoxy Eyes to evaluate employees. Police investigators use Epoxy Eyes to intimidate suspected criminals. And clever Romeos use Epoxy Eyes to make women fall in love with them. (If romance is your goal, Epoxy Eyes is a proven aphrodisiac.)

The Epoxy Eyes technique takes at least three people to pull off – you, your target, and one other person. Here’s how it works: Usually, when you’re chatting with two or more people, you gaze at the person who is speaking. However, the Epoxy Eyes technique suggests you concentrate on the listener – your target – rather than the speaker. This slightly disorients Target and he or she silently asks, ‘Why is this person looking at me instead of the speaker?’ Target senses you are extremely interested in his or her reactions. This can be beneficial in certain business situations when it is appropriate that you judge the listener.

Human resources professionals often use Epoxy Eyes, not as a technique, but because they are sincerely interested in a prospective employee’s reaction to certain ideas being presented. Lawyers, bosses, police investigators, psychologists, and others who must examine subjects’ reactions also use Epoxy Eyes for analytical purposes.

When you use Epoxy Eyes, it sends out signals of interest blended with complete confidence in yourself. But because Epoxy Eyes puts you in a position of evaluating or judging someone else, you must be careful. Don’t overdo it or you could come across as arrogant and brazen.

Technique 3:

Epoxy eyes

This brazen technique packs a powerful punch. Watch your target person even when someone else is talking. No matter who is speaking, keep looking at the man or woman you want to impact.

Sometimes using full Epoxy Eyes is too potent, so here is a gentler, yet effective, form: Watch the speaker but let your glance bounce to your target each time the speaker finishes a point. This way Mr or Ms Target still feels you are intrigued by his or her reactions, yet there is relief from the intensity.

When love is on your mind

If romance is on the horizon, Epoxy Eyes transmits yet another message. It says, ‘I can’t take my eyes off you’ or ‘I only have eyes for you.’ Anthropologists have dubbed eyes ‘the initial organ of romance’ because studies show intense eye contact plays havoc with our heartbeat.⁸ It also releases a druglike substance into our nervous system called phenylethylamine. Since this is the hormone detected in the human body during erotic excitement, intense eye contact can be a turn-on.

Men, Epoxy Eyes is extremely effective on women – if they find you attractive. The lady interprets her nervous reaction to your untoward gaze as budding infatuation. If she

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93 ratings / 9 Reviews
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  • (3/5)
    I love these short, 90s ('sort of), campy, phony-get-ahead audiobooks. This one wasn't short and campy enough.
  • (2/5)
    I can't pinpoint why but this was strangely off-putting.
  • (4/5)
    Sweet and succinct. With clever devices and memorable anecdotes, Lowndes assembles a quick and easy guidebook for those searching to make better impressions.
  • (5/5)
    This was a very good book because it detailed practical strategies about social situations of various sorts and how to become a better communicator in many different areas of life.
  • (5/5)
    Its inspiring and easy to understand, would love to read another books of her
  • (3/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    I'm feel very much and intruducing it with me friend.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (1/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Dreadful. Truly awful. Like listening to bad dating advice from an aged grandmother. Cringeworthy.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (2/5)
    Nothing you couldn't figure out for yourself if you really wanted to!
  • (4/5)
    It is written in a great, analytical way that breaks down human interpersonal behavior in a way that you can internalize.