‘How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships’ by Leil Lowndes

How to Talk to AnyonestarstarstarstarThis book is way better than its cover suggests and is surprisingly useful. Although it is highly doubtful it will live up to the hype of BIG change in your life, it could make you just a little more confident in many social situations. Most of it is common sense, but a good reminder nevertheless. Lowndes has a fresh and entertaining style and definitely suggests simple tips and techniques that can be road tested right away. Probably best not to read it in one sitting or try too many techniques at once! I did find the author does run the risk of seeming disingenuous in some of her examples, by suggesting how to be interested in people when really you’re not. Of course the best way to  communicate sincerely and effectively with people is to care about them.

A copy of How to Talk to Anyone resided in our downstairs loo for years and seems to have entertained a fair number of guests and family members who heeded nature’s call, judging by how dog-eared it has become. (Perhaps I need to have it steam cleaned !) Since I’d rather read in an armchair, I elevated it to my reading pile and I’m glad that I did. It actually is a well written and surprisingly smart guide despite the gimmicky title and use of the word “tricks.” Most reviewers were positive, however, I had to chuckle at one negative reviewer who said he didn’t like the book or her writing style, but also said he came away with 19 great new ideas!

Drawing on communication research and analysis of body language and studies of casual conversations, some rather decent insights into communication emerge that are worth noting. Here are just a few examples to give you a flavour:

*Body language is a powerful thing. Use it to your advantage: good posture, open arms, head up, direct gaze–these will all exude confidence and make you more approachable.
*Keep people talking about themselves, they’ll love you for it.
*Instead of asking a politically charged, “What do you do?” try this:     “How do you spend most of your time?”
*Provide more than a “one-word” answer to the same question.
*Sound like an insider by doing a little research ahead of time, so that you can share some of the latest lingo about the interests of others. 

*In a business meeting using someone’s name can seem manipulative, but with a friend it can make them feel special.
*When you call someone, always pause to ask, “Is this a good time to talk?”
*Keep voicemail messages free from gimmicks and update to current circumstances as often as possible (if someone leaves a message in the middle of the night, of course you are not on another line, although you most certainly have left your desk…perhaps you could try “My office hours are… and I will be in tomorrow to return your call”).
*Track small details in people’s lives and remember to ask them about it when you meet again (the author even suggests scribbling notes with details on the back of someone’s business card at a conference!) “How was that vacation in Jamaica?” “Did your son pass his math test?” “How are feeling after eating at that new restaurant?”

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