Day 2. How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships

Recommendation "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. getAbstractrecommends 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."

Summary "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:

  1. "Who will be there?" – After all, that's why you're going, right?

  2. "When should I arrive?" – The best advice is to get there early.

  3. "What should I take with me?" – At a minimum, you'll need your business cards.

  4. "Why is the party being given?" –Be sure and get the true reason.

  5. "Where is the collective mind?" – Will it be a party of financiers or environmentalists?

  6. "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.

About the Author Leil Lowndes writes and lectures extensively on communication, and acts as a personal communications coach for Fortune 500 company executives and employees.

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