How to Talk to Anyone

"Small talk! Can you hear the shudder?  These two little words drive a stake into the hearts of some otherwise fearless and undaunted souls."

- How to Talk to Anyone, page 43

Just as a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a relationship that will last a lifetime can begin with a single glance, gesture or word.  How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships by Leil Lowndes gives you techniques for introductions and initial conversations.  It doesn’t stop there.  You’ll read tips on how to keep a conversation going, how to thank someone, how to ask for a favour and much more.

The book is divided into eight sections:

  • How to Intrigue Everyone Without Saying a Word: You Only Have Ten Seconds to Show You’re a Somebody

  • How to Know What to Say After You Say “Hi”

  • How to Talk Like a VIP

  • How to Be An Insider in Any Crowd: What Are They All Talking About?

  • How to Sound Like You’re Peas in a Pod: “Why, We’re Just Alike”

  • 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: The Politician’s Six Point Party Checklist

  • How to Break the Most Treacherous Glass Ceiling of All: Sometimes People Are Tigers

With ninety-two techniques at your disposal, you’ll never be at a loss for words again.  Knowing what to say and do (and when to say and do it!) can help you cement friendships, win customers and sail through social situations with ease.

The Big Idea

The Big Idea: The biggest takeaway from the book

Superficial Actions Foster Deep Connections

"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.’"
- How to Talk to Anyone, opening

Each of the ninety-two tricks presented covers a small, specific interaction with other people.  Every time you communicate you’re making some kind of impression: good, bad or indifferent.  Which impression do you want to make? By choosing to master ways of behaving and communicating, you have the opportunity to deepen your most important relationships, in every moment you share with others.

Take Technique #37, for example: “Never the Naked Thank You.”  This simple tip allows you to graciously thank someone in a way that will make them notice.  The phrase “Thank You” is used so often that people often don’t hear it.   To make them truly feel appreciated, simply add what you are thanking them for: “Thank you for your kind offer” or “Thank you for the compliment.”

Insight #1

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Network with Ease

"They say the pen is mightier than the sword.  It is, but the tongue is even mightier than the pen."
- How to Talk to Anyone, page 121

Networking is a wonderful way to have fun, meet people and grow your business.  However, making that initial connection can be tricky.

A great tip for making it easy for others to strike up conversation is technique #12: Always Wear a Whatzit.  What’s that, you say?  A Whatzit is an unusual accessory that gives people an excuse to start talking to you.  It could be a fun tie, an eye-catching pin or an interesting purse.

If you’ve got no Whatzit and no-one to talk to, try using the Technique #14: Eavesdrop In.  Stand near a group of people you’d like to join.  Listen for a word or two that will give you a topic to comment on, then use it to join the conversation.  For example: “I couldn’t help overhearing your discussion about yoga.  I’m new to the city and would love to know where to find the best studios.”  Though people may be taken aback momentarily, they will quickly forget if you use a warm smile and show genuine interest in the group and the topic.

Insight #2

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Friendly First Impressions

"You wouldn’t dream of going to a party naked.  And I hope you wouldn’t dream of letting your conversation be exposed naked and defenseless against the two inevitable assaults ‘Where are you from?’ and ‘What do you do?’"
- How to Talk to Anyone, page 63

You’re about to introduce two single people at a party.  They could be one another’s soulmate or new best friend.  How do you get that initial conversation going so they can find out?

Here’s how to make that introduction so it doesn’t fall flat.  Technique #17: Never the Naked Introduction.

When introducing people, include an interesting tidbit about each person.  This gives the conversation a starting point.  For example:  “Chris, I’d like you to meet Nancy, who recently celebrated her birthday in Provence.  Nancy, I’d like you to meet Chris.  Chris helped build a school in Kenya last summer.”  Now, Chris can ask Nancy if she speaks French and what she enjoyed about Provence.  Nancy might ask Chris about his role in building the school and whether he has travelled elsewhere in Africa.

During a conversation with a new friend, two questions often come up: “Where are you from?” and “What do you do?”  Here’s the problem: the conversation can die if your acquaintance knows little about your hometown or occupation.  To keep the conversation flowing, use Technique #15: Never the Naked City and Technique #16, Never the Naked Job.  Add a fact or interesting description to each.

Here are a couple of examples that I might use:

“I’m from Wellington, New Zealand.  Much of the work on Lord of the Rings was performed in Wellington.”

“I’m a corporate trainer and I lead workshops in communication skills, helping people to avoid death by PowerPoint.”

Use add-ons that most people can relate to and your conversation partner can pick it up from there.

How to Talk to Anyone contains so many valuable tips that I’ll be referring back to it for years to come.  I will use it to refresh my skills and make it easy to meet people, keep the conversation going or show those that I love just how much I care.

In which area of your life do you want to build your interpersonal or conversational skills?  What is one action that you will try?

Consultant or Coach? Take our Fit Assessment to find out if partnering with Actionable is right for you.
Susan Gregory

ABOUT Susan Gregory

I am fascinated by what motivates people, how we communicate with each other and we can perform at our best. As a corporate trainer, I love to learn and share techniques to help people to build skills in communicating effectively, managing work and priorities, and thinking creatively...
Read More
blog comments powered by Disqus

Back to summaries