How to Talk to Anyone

Summary Written by Susan Gregory
"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

The Big Idea

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

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.

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Insight #2

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.

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Leil Lowndes

Leil Lowndes is an internationally recognized communications expert who specializes in the subconscious interactions that take place in all interpersonal communications. She has spoken and conducted hundreds of seminars for major corporations, associations, and the public in every city in the US and some internationally.She is the author of 10 top-selling books on communication skills for business, social relationships, and love. Some have been translated into 26 languages.A wide variety of publications have applauded Leil’s work including Time Magazine, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Psychology Today and the Huffington Post. She has appeared as the guest expert on countless national television shows and news programs on all four major networks.

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