Sunday, February 3, 2019

What I learned from the book 'How to Talk to Anyone'

When I started reading actively years back, I developed a fascination for the self-help books. One of the early ones that I remember to have read was Dale Carnegie's classic- 'How to win friends and influence people', Norman Vincent Peale's 'The power of positive thinking" and many such. These books were classics of their time but their reach and charm really spanned across generations.

Over the years, my liking for the "How to' type books really diminished as I developed interest in other areas. Self-help books also tended to be more preachy in nature. Being preachy is not always uninteresting but without a strong corresponding stories and only messages, reading such stuff tends to be boring.

Fast forward to yesterday, on a long journey to the US (that brutally takes 24 plus hours, if you count the hours as soon as you step out of home for airport), my choice of book was intriguing given the background that I shared above. My book companion in this journey was Leil Lowndes's: 'How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships'

You might wonder why again an 'How to' book as I had declared my eventual dislike for it. Honestly, I picked it up because I found the theme of the book interesting. Talking to people is such a fundamental aspect of being a human but yet only a few manage to master it. 
I found another reason why I should read this book in the initial few pages of this book. With due respect to Dale Carnegie, the author raised an important point where she says most of the Dale's work and a few that succeeded him focused on 'What' needs to be done when driving a change in behavior, but it rarely focused on 'How' to achieve what needs to be done. People may be aware of what they lack bit usually where they falter is in figuring out how to change the behavior. The book, she says addresses the say-do gap or more precisely, the know-do gap in some ways.

In my long flight I managed to go through almost half of the book and my attempt in this blog is to put down what I remember the first time what I read. Here are a few points (in no particular order):

1. A near-ideal body language, posture is: a head-up look, a confident smile and a direct gaze.

2. According to a study, our body gives close to 10000 signals a second on how our mind is functioning. Your body is a 24 hour broadcasting station revealing how you precisely feel in a given situation.

3. When meeting someone new, don't display a quick smile. A delayed smile, after almost a second of meeting, has more impact. Don't flash an immediate smile when you great someone.

4. Don't break eye contact with a person after he/she has finished speaking. An extra two seconds of eye contact can give an impression of you being more sensitive and caring.

5. When meeting someone new, think of them as a long lost friend. Will help ease the nerves, build more authenticity and remove barriers.

6. Whenever your conversation really counts, do not fidget. Let your nose itch, or your foot prickle. Unnecessary hand motions can give a feeling of being not 100% in the moment.

7. Visualize conversation success. Visualization works best when you feel totally relaxed, with a calm state of mind.

8. More often 'How' you say something matters more than 'What' you say. Show passion.

9. Never, ever, give just one sentence response to the question 'Where are you from'. Give some additional engaging detail that can help the asker take the conversation forward.

10. When asked 'What do you do', don't just say your designation or your broader profession name. Say some delicious facts about your role that can engage the people.

11. Be a word detective. Pick up interesting words that your conversation partner might throw and ask to elaborate. A good way to show interest in others and that you are totally in the moment.

12. Don't leave home without knowing the latest news about the area you are in. This knowledge acts as a communication feeder.

13. How did you find out what someone does for a living. Don't ask 'What do you do'. Rather ask- 'How do you spend most of your time?'

14. Only fifty words makes the difference between a rich, creative vocabulary and an average middle of the road one. Think of a few tired, overworked words you use everyday like smart, nice, pretty, good etc. Substitute a words a day for two months and you can be verbally elite.

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