Summary and Analysis of How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships
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Leil Lowndes’ Perspective
Leil Lowndes is an internationally recognized communications expert. She has conducted communication seminars for major US corporations, foreign governments, and the US Peace Corps. Lowndes has appeared on hundreds of television and radio programs. She has authored ten bestselling books on communications. These books have been published in over 26 foreign languages.
How to Talk to Anyone is a psychology-backed book that offers guidance on effective communication. Lowndes covers a wide range of communication types, broken down into verbal and nonverbal, across almost every possible context. Your approach should adapt depending on who you are talking to and the specific context. So, How to Talk to Anyone offers guidance on how you can become a master communicator. As a master communicator, you can connect with others irrespective of the environment.
StoryShot #1: Using Your Smile and Your Eyes for First Impressions
80% of first impressions is the way you look and move. In fact, studies suggest that emotional reactions occur in our brains before we even have time to register a reaction to somebody. So, try to utilize Leil Lowndes’ tips to intrigue everyone through your first impressions.
Lowndes advises against quick smiles. If you interact with somebody, you should start by looking at their face for a second and pausing. This pause will let you soak in their persona. You should then let out a big warm smile that floods across your face. Allow this flood to overflow into smiling with your eyes. While engaging with the flooding smile, you should also try to maintain eye contact. Others will respect you more if you maintain strong eye contact. Specifically, this ability is associated with intelligence and abstract thinking.
Lowndes’ second technique builds on the importance of maintaining eye contact. She describes how you should adopt sticky eyes. This means you should not break eye contact even after they have finished speaking. Once you have decided to break eye contact, you should do so slowly and reluctantly. Lowndes believes this approach will send a message to others to comprehend their conversation and respect them as an individual.
When you are seeking romance, you should utilize what Lowndes describes as epoxy eyes. If you are romantically interested in someone, maintain deep eye contact with them even when they are not the person talking. If they are interested in you, keeping eye contact while they are a listener can be an effective aphrodisiac.
StoryShot #2: How to Excel at Small Talk
Try not to worry too much about what you are saying, but attempt to match the mood of the audience. The easiest, broader approach to take is simply ensuring your words will put people at ease. Doing this will help make you sound passionate.
As long as your words are putting the audience at ease, you can focus more on the tone of what you are saying. 80% of your communication has nothing to do with your choice of words.
When introducing people, you should always offer an exciting point for the conversation to flow from. Offering an unbaited hook when starting a conversation will only lead to awkwardness. A word detective can identify their conversation partner’s preferred topic by listening to every word said. You will become more appealing in others’ minds if you learn how to keep the spotlight shining on them.
StoryShot #3: How to Start a Conversation
Lowndes suggests always wearing or carrying something slightly unusual. Possessing these objects will immediately draw other people’s attention towards you. Try to also make small talk by commenting on other people’s attire.
Asking people you know to make introductions with other people can immediately provide an icebreaker.
Eavesdropping in group contexts is not rude. It shows curiosity. So, don’t be scared to eavesdrop on other conversations and say something like ‘excuse me, I couldn’t help but overhear…’
If somebody asks you where you are from, you should always avoid giving them a one-word answer. Use this as an opportunity to describe interesting parts of your life. You should always avoid one-word answers when somebody asks what you do for work. Embellish your answer with fascinating facts about your role, company, or job history.
StoryShot #4: Conversations on Jobs
Lowndes believes you should never be asking the question, “”What do you do?”” You should be asking others how they spend most of their time instead. If you are asked what you do, you should try to avoid using the same stories about your personal life across conversations. Build up a bank of true stories that roll off your tongue.
StoryShot #5: How to Make Others Feel Special
A common mistake is immediately agreeing with another person. Instead of jumping in with “me too,” you should wait and listen. So, the other person will be influenced more if you wait to agree.
Wherever possible, start sentences with the word “you.” Starting conversations with this word will immediately grab your listeners’ attention. If you are meeting a group of people, you should greet each person with a distinct smile rather than smiling at a group.
StoryShot #6: Challenging Conversation Topics
Never, ever, make a joke at anyone else’s expense. You may get some cheap laughs in the short term. But, you will pay for this joke in the long run.
You should always consider the receiver of your news before throwing it out there. Ensure you deliver any news with appropriate emotions.
Whenever someone persists in questioning you on an unwelcome subject, simply repeat your original response. Use precisely the same words in precisely the same tone of voice. Hearing it again usually quiets them down.
StoryShot #7: How to Talk to a Celebrity
When chatting with a celebrity you should never compliment their work and instead, say that you have gained insight from their work. You should also avoid singling out any accomplishments that are well in the past for the celebrity. Choose one of their recent accomplishments to show you are not starstruck.
StoryShot #8: How to Sound Like You Understand Their Passions
Lowndes describes gobbledygook as the language of other professions. Learn a minimal amount of information about a wide range of topics so you can sound like an insider. The most effective way of doing this is finding an insider to teach you some lingo. As well as learning some of the jargon within a profession, you must also identify the hot issues within a field. Every industry has burning concerns that only specialists will know about. Learn these hot issues, and you become infinitely more interesting. Read magazines pertaining to the industry you will be encountering to learn insider news.
StoryShot #9: How to Turn Individuals into a Collective
There are four levels to move from being strangers to making them think ‘we’:
- Clichés – Strangers will generally throw cliches at each other to make small talk.
- Facts – People who are acquaintances rather than friends will often bring up interesting facts to make conversation.
- Feelings and Personal Questions – When people become friends they start offering their feelings regarding all topics, even those that are boring.
- We Statements – Using ‘we’ prematurely will push your relationship closer.
When you meet a stranger you’d like to make less of a stranger, search for some special moment you shared during your first encounter. The author calls this instant history.
StoryShot #10: How to Make Them Feel Like You Are Similar
Try to copy the movement styles of people you are engaging with. Doing so will make them feel more comfortable and receptive. Match your personality to your product. Echoing is a simple and powerful linguistic technique that can make you feel like family. Hearing their words come out of your mouth creates subliminal rapport.
Lowndes believes you can create a sensation of intimacy with someone even moments after having met them. The most effective way of doing this is skipping conversation levels 1 and 2 and going straight to the more intimate conversations. If you want to make a stranger less of a stranger, try to identify a remarkable moment you shared during your first encounter.
StoryShot #11: How to Bring Good Vibes
Offer praise to people when they are not even within a conversation. If they find out you have been complimenting them behind their back, this means a lot more than flattery to someone’s face.
Become someone who carries good news. So, if somebody compliments another person, you should try to be the person who lets the complimented person know. Throw a few comments into your conversation that presupposes something positive about the person you’re talking with.
You should also try to become a stealthy praiser. Do not make all your compliments obvious by hiding them in the middle of sentences. These types of praise are often perceived as more genuine.
StoryShot #12: Use Verbal Strokes and Compliments
Try to become a stealthy praiser. Do not make all your compliments obvious by hiding them in the middle of sentences. These types of praise are often perceived as more genuine.
The alternative is the killer compliment. Use these sparingly as they can be intense. Identify one specific quality, look them in the eye, say their name, and deliver the compliment. The author also provides several killer compliment rules:
- Deliver it in private.
- Make your killer compliment credible.
- Confer only one killer compliment every 6 months.
To keep your loved ones on side, you should utilize minor verbal strokes. These strokes will help them better understand they are appreciated. Let compliments boomerang straight back to the giver. You do not necessarily have to give a big compliment, but you can say something like “that is very kind of you.” Whenever someone shines a little sunshine on your life in the form of a compliment or concerned question, reflect it back on the shiner.
You take people’s breath away when you feed their deepest self-image to them in a compliment.
StoryShot #13: How to Sound Great on the Phone
To sound exciting on the phone you have to replace your usual gestures with sounds. Your smiles, nods, and hand movements have to be articulated through your voice. Think of yourself as the star of a radio drama.
People perk up when they hear their own name. Use it more often on the phone than you would in person to keep their attention.
The best way to show genuine happiness that somebody has called you is by answering with a professional tone. Once you know who it is, you can then let happiness spread through your voice. This shows you are genuinely glad it is them who called.
StoryShot #14: How to Get What You Want on the Phone
Instead of offering advice on how to sneak past the gatekeeper, this storyshot talks about how the “sneaky screen” makes this difficult. The sneaky screen is when an assistant asks for your name. Based on your prestige, they decide to either dial you through to the person you want to talk to or make up an excuse for why they aren’t available. This fake screening will always leave the caller happy despite it being a lie.
When calling the gatekeeper of a VIP you should cut out using the name of the VIP. Instead, use gender pronouns. Asking the gatekeeper ‘Is she in?’ will suggest you are closer to the VIP than you actually are.
You should always greet the person who answers when you call someone’s home. Do not simply ask for the person you have called and instead get to know the person who answered. This same idea applies when you call someone’s office. Make friends with the secretary and you will have greater access to the big shots.
Some salespeople ask whether it is a good time for the potential client. If the client answers ‘Not really, but tell me anyway’, you should never proceed. This is what the author calls a yellow light. Only try to sell your idea to someone when they are giving you the green light.
When on a call, you should be aware of the noises in the background. For example, if you hear that their doorbell has been rung, you should stop mid-sentence. Point out you have noticed this noise and ask if they need to go and attend to it.
StoryShot #15: How to Create a Powerful Voicemail
The best way to impress others with your outgoing voicemail message is to change it daily. Create a daily voicemail message that is reliable, short, professional and friendly. Any imperfections are fine as they show you are down to earth.
Pretend the tone at the start of a voicemail is your call to step on stage for an audition. A voicemail gives you roughly ten seconds to win the other person over.
StoryShot #16: How to Perform Well at a Party
It is impossible to be fully engaged in a conversation if you are eating at the same time. Similarly, your audience will pay less attention to you if you distract them by eating. Survey the situation at gatherings so you can better understand how to create positive conversations.
Make every social interaction a rehearsal for the moment that you meet people who could potentially change your life.
StoryShot #17: Favors and Bloopers
If a friend agrees to do a favor, then let them bask in the glory of being a good person. When you do someone a favor, wait a suitable amount of time before asking for them to pay.
Whenever someone’s story is aborted, bring attention back to the story after the interruption.
Effective communicators understand it is better to overlook all of their friends’ bloopers.
You should avoid your own bloopers in the form of confrontation at parties. Even if you are standing next to your biggest enemy, save your argument for another environment.
Final Summary and Review of How to Talk to Anyone
How to Talk to Anyone provides dozens of concise tips for improving your ability to talk to others. The core lesson to learn from this book is that there are universal skills that can be applied to almost any situation. These skills should become part of your skillset to be applied to all situations. That said, there are also special tricks for seducing, engaging a potential customer, and making yourself stand out in a group. By learning these tricks, you can excel in all conversations.
We rate this practical book 4.3/5.
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This article was first published in April 2021. It was updated on 28 March 2022.
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