how to talk to anyone summary

Book Summary: How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes

Table of Contents

The Book in Three Sentences

In this book summary of How to Talk to Anyone, you’ll learn to perfect your social skills. The book features 92 techniques you can use to improve personal and professional relationships. The communication tools included in the book are accessible so that anyone can implement them.

How to Talk to Anyone Summary

Preface: Having It All

We all admire those people who seem to have it all. Confident people seem to have the best jobs, partners, friends, and houses. That said, success isn’t about intelligence, education, or looks. Success is about dealing with other people. How to Talk to Anyone compiles 92 tricks so that you can get anything you want. When interacting with people, words are important, but so is your body language. The author compiled everything she learned and turned it into actionable techniques that anyone can learn.

Part 1: You Only Have Ten Seconds To Show You’re a Somebody

By looking at people, you can capture their personality in a matter of seconds. People communicate a lot without saying a word. Their appearance, their posture, and the way they move say a lot about what they are like. First impressions are unforgettable. Whenever people see you for the first time, they form quick judgments and move on. To give a great impression, have a great posture, have a heads-up look, show a confident smile, and maintain a direct gaze.

Chapter 1: The Flooding Smile

Smiles come in different forms and imply different things. Don’t giggle, don’t give cold smiles, and don’t give quick smiles. For a smile to mean something, it should come slowly because this gives you credibility. In other words, don’t smile often and your smile will seem sincere and special.

Chapter 2: Sticky Eyes

Your eyes are powerful and they can affect people’s emotions. In most cultures, intense eye contact can be perceived as threatening and disrespectful. In business and romance though, strong eye contact has its benefits. This signals to the other person that they’ve become the focus of your attention. This shows respect, affection, and intelligence.

Chapter 3: Epoxy Eyes

One way to take Sticky Eyes one step further is by turning them into Epoxy Eyes. This new technique involves staring intently at the other person even when they’re not the ones talking. You use this technique to intimidate or seduce but be careful not to overuse it because you can come across as arrogant or shameless.

Chapter 4: Hang by Your Teeth

When you feel great, your body reacts instinctively. Your head jerks up, you throw your shoulders back, you smile, and your eyes soften. All of this signals assurance, confidence, and pride.

Chapter 5: The Big-Baby Pivot

When you meet someone for the first time, you make subconscious judgments based on their body language. The first few moments determine the kind of relationship you’re going to have with that person. The Big-Baby Pivot involves giving a warm smile and you’re undivided attention to someone you just met because.

Chapter 6: Hello Old Friend

Trying the techniques in this book can help you a lot, but if you think too much, you can look shy or hostile. To avoid this with someone you just met, imagine that you’re talking with an old friend, someone you know and that you feel comfortable with.

Chapter 7: Limit the Fidget

When people shift in their seats or they break eye contact, it signals that they’re lying. To come across as someone credible, limit the fidget.

Chapter 8: Hans’s Horse Sense

Hans was a horse that was so smart that people said he could do basic math, as well as answer questions about history, geography, and biology. Soon, experts realized that what the horse was doing was responding to people’s reactions. This proves that even when you can’t listen to the words, you can tell what’s going on in a conversation if you’re paying attention to people’s expressions.

Chapter 9: Watch the Scene Before You Make the Scene

Before a performance, athletes visualize what they’re about to do. They see and hear everything before they do it. This has a powerful effect, but you don’t have to be an athlete to do it. As long as you’re relaxed, you can visualize your actions and how everything might unfold.

Part 2: What Do I Say After I Say “Hello”?

Your first words should delight your listener in the same way that your looks should delight their eyes. Your words can welcome people or send them away, the key is to master the art of small talk. Although small talk can be scary, you can overcome it by engaging with it. Before you can become a dynamic conversationalist and a forceful communicator, making use of small talk is crucial.

Chapter 10: The Mood Match

When you meet someone for the first time, you might struggle with your first words. The purpose of small talk is to comfort people, not to impress anyone. Think of small talk as music where the goal is to match the mood of your listener.

Chapter 11: Prosaic with Passion

Even if you say the most mundane things, people will be fascinated if you’re passionate enough. Most of the time, it’s not about what you say, but about how you say it. One of the best ways to put people at ease is by focusing on how similar you are to them. When two strangers meet, there’s a wall of fear, suspicion, and mistrust between them. Focusing on commonalities and mundane remarks brings down those walls. As soon as the other person replies with cleverness or wit, you match that intent.

Chapter 12: Always Wear a Whatzit

Another technique to make small talk involves wearing a whatzit. This is an unusual item that draws people’s attention and is the perfect excuse to start a conversation.

Chapter 13: Whoozat?

This technique involves asking someone to introduce you to a specific person. Ask questions about the person before you’re introduced and you’ll have enough information to start a conversation.

Chapter 14: Eavesdrop In

When someone’s in deep conversation, stand near the group and say something like “I couldn’t help but overhear you…” and continue the conversation by saying something relevant.

Chapter 15: Never the Naked City

Two questions are inevitable in all conversations: “Where are you from?” and “What do you do?” The problem with these questions is that it’s hard to continue the conversation after you’ve given your answer. To solve this, never give one-sentence responses.

Chapter 16: Never the Naked Job

When you refer to your job, keep the conversation going by describing what you do or what you’re working on at the moment.

Chapter 17: Never the Naked Introduction

When you introduce two people, say something more than their names so that they can keep the conversation going.

Chapter 18: Be a Word Detective

When someone brings up a topic out of nowhere, that’s probably something they want to talk about. Your job is to listen for clues and continue the conversation.

Chapter 19: The Swivelling Spotlight

Most people want to talk about themselves and you can use this to your advantage. Instead of focusing on yourself, focus on the other person. There’s always something interesting about other people, you just have to find it. To captivate other people, listen but don’t talk.

Chapter 20: Parroting

Everyone struggles with a dying conversation at some point. Most conversations unfold in the same way. You say something and then the other person responds accordingly. At some point, someone will run out of things to say. When this happens to you, simply repeat the last words the other person said.

Chapter 21: Encore!

Another technique you can use in dying conversations involves bringing up an exciting anecdote that everyone knows, but that they’re excited to listen to again. Every time you retell the story, you’ll include more vivid descriptions that your audience will appreciate. Encourage other people you know to tell their stories too and soon, they’ll do the same for you as well.  

Chapter 22: Ac-cen-tu-ate the Pos-i-tive

You don’t have to share secrets when you meet someone. Even if you confess something, people don’t have any context, so save the secrets for later in the relationship.

Chapter 23: The Latest News… Don’t Leave Home Without It

One of the most important things you should take to a gathering is something to talk about. Feel free to improvise, but have something prepared just in case. This involves watching the news, reading articles, or mentioning anything that happened recently.

Part 3: How to Talk Like the Big Boys ‘N’ Girls

When they talk, people size each other up by looking at each other’s communication skills. This is how people judge who’s important and who isn’t on the social ladder.

Chapter 24: What Do You Do – NOT!

Important people never ask someone else “What do you do?”, they infer it or ask it subtly. Not asking this question makes you look principled, spiritual, and sensitive. A good way to find out someone’s job is to ask “How do you spend most of your time?”

Chapter 25: The Nutshell Resume

While you shouldn’t ask the question “What do you do?” outright, you should be prepared to answer it. Ideally, you should spend a lot of time crafting your nutshell resume. One way to do this is by describing how you help people instead of mentioning your profession.

Chapter 26: Your Personal Thesaurus

Having a rich vocabulary determines how people perceive you. By using a wide range of words, you’ll appear to be creative and intelligent. Choose your words carefully to match your personality and your intentions. The best way to do this is to replace overworked words like “smart”, “nice”, “pretty”, or “good” with more colorful synonyms.

Chapter 27: Kill the Quick “Me, Too!”

People tend to hang out in groups where everyone shares a common interest. When someone brings up a common interest, let the person talk about it before jumping in with excitement. Then casually mentioned that you like that too.

Chapter 28: Comm-YOU-nication

Everyone wants to talk about themselves. When you talk about something, always bear in mind how that affects your listener. Start most conversations with the word “you”. This is especially effective when you have to ask for a favor or when you need some help.

Chapter 29: The Exclusive Smile

Ideally, a smile should be a special reaction to someone. Not something you give to everyone. Everyone has a repertoire of smiles at their disposal, so vary your smiles to make the recipient feel special. If you show the same smile to everyone, it soon loses its value.

Chapter 30: Don’t Touch a Cliche with a Ten-Foot Pole

You can identify jerks by the language they use. They’re particularly fond of cliches because they can’t come up with something original.

Chapter 31: Use Jawsmith’s Jive

Professional speakers have the same tools as everyone else, the difference is that they use every tool. These include their hands, body, gestures, and voice. Also, you can try to memorize jokes, witty answers, or escape lines in case you need them. The best way to enrich a conversation is through humor. As long as what you’re saying is relevant, feel free to add funny lines to your conversations.

Chapter 32: Call a Spade a Spade

Using euphemisms is a way to hide yourself. Be clear and concise when it comes to the vocabulary you use.

Chapter 33: Trash the Teasing

Teasing and making fun of people makes you feel inferior. As innocent as certain jokes may appear, the only thing they get you is a cheap laugh.

Chapter 34: It’s the Receiver Ball

Giving bad news to people isn’t a problem, but never have an unsympathetic attitude when delivering those bad news. When you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, be compassionate.

Chapter 35: The Broken Record

When you don’t want to answer and you want people to shut up, keep giving them the same answer. The idea is to repeat the same words in the same tone of voice.

Chapter 36: Big Shots Don’t Slobber

If you ever come across someone you admire, the best thing you should do is leave them alone. If you want to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, you say how much you’ve enjoyed their work. Ideally, you’d point out their most recent contribution.

Chapter 37: Never the Naked Thank You

When you thank someone, make sure you do it for something specific. In other words, give a reason after saying “thank you” and the phrase will have a deeper meaning.

Part 4: How to Be an Insider in Any Crowd

When you find yourself in a place where everyone talks in technical terms that make no sense to you, you feel out of place. Instead of just standing there with a smile and without saying a word, you can use different techniques to feel like an insider, rather than an outsider. Something as simple as reading an article can help you understand the basics of a topic you know nothing about.

Chapter 38: Scramble Therapy

Most people only know things about their hobbies and pastimes. Consider doing activities you haven’t done before and you’ll have something to talk about for the rest of your life. You’ll learn enough from that one experience that you’ll be able to talk about it with anyone who’s into it.

Chapter 39: Learn a Little Gobbledygook

Learning the specific vocabulary related to a job or activity is important if you want to connect with another person. As long as you have a few opening questions to start a conversation, the rest will take care of itself. These first questions usually determine the quality of the rest of the conversation. Whatever you do, avoid using the same questions as everyone else.

Chapter 40: Baring Their Hot Button

Every field has popular issues that everyone’s discussing at a given moment. Find out what those are and bring them up when you’re with the right people.

Chapter 41: Read Their Rags

Whenever possible, familiarize yourself with topics you don’t know a lot about. Sooner or later, you’ll come across people who want to talk about that very topic and it’s good to be prepared. The more specific the topic, the more you’ll learn.

Chapter 42: Clear “Customs”

When you travel to another country for business, make sure you study its traditions. Making mistakes can be difficult to overcome in a business environment (not to mention embarrassing).

Chapter 43: Bluffing for the Bargains

Don’t use immature tactics to get what you want. Pretend to be someone who knows what they’re talking about and you might get the price that’s reserved for insiders. The best way to learn about a topic you may not know much about is by having a friend in the business and asking them questions.

Part 5: Why, We’re Just Alike

When you hang around people who have similar values and beliefs, you feel comfortable around them. With that in mind, the author compiled a series of techniques to develop empathy with most people.

Chapter 44: Be a Copycat

Different people behave and move differently. This depends on the country or region they’re from, where they went to school, what they do for a living, and many other factors. To make people comfortable, you should move like them.

Chapter 45: Echoing

When two people who just met think alike, we say they have chemistry. To recreate this, you can echo the other person’s words. Don’t use your own words, but match the words of the other person instead.

Chapter 46: Potent Imaging

Everyone goes through life using different analogies and it’s your job to learn them if you want to be part of a group. When you use analogies, make sure everyone understands what you’re saying.

Chapter 47: Employ Empathizers

As a way to confirm that we’re listening to someone, we often vocalize sounds like “uh huh” or “ummm”. The problem is that this becomes a habit and we say those things even when we’re not listening. You want to replace those sounds with empathizers instead. These are supportive statements and not just grunts.

Chapter 48: Automatically Correct Empathizers

Each person has a dominant sense. When talking with them use empathizers that refer to that sense specifically. For example: “That looks good” or “That sounds good”. Of course, this involves listening to your friends carefully to find their main perception.

Chapter 49: The Premature We

When you listen to two people, you can often infer what kind of relationship they have. People who use cliches and facts, people who express their feelings or ask each other questions, and people who talk in “we” or “us” statements are probably close. If you want to accelerate a relationship and get closer to someone, use “we” or “us” statements. This creates togetherness and a sense of connection.

Chapter 50: Instant History

When you share a story with someone and that story makes no sense to anyone else, it means you’re close. Sharing memories renews a friendship even if they happened a long time ago.

Part 6: The Power of Praise, The Folly of Flattery

Compliments are a way to get what you want in life. If your compliments are insincere though, they can quickly backfire and you won’t regain that person’s trust again. Praising people, like most things, is a skill that takes time and effort.

Chapter 51: Gravine Glory

When you give a compliment, there’s always the risk that the person on the receiving end thinks you’re doing it to get something in return. To avoid this, compliment the person behind their back and the recipient will hear about it from someone else.

Chapter 52: Carrier Pigeon Kudos

During the war, carrier pigeons saved countless lives carrying messages for people. Similarly, when you hear praise about someone, repeat the message to the person who was complimented. Also, feel free to contact someone when you have a piece of information they might find interesting.

Chapter 53: Implied Magnificence

Another way to compliment someone without doing it downright involves implying something about the person. Don’t say “You look terrific”, say “You’ve been working out”, for example.

Chapter 54: Accidental Adulation

Maybe your compliments look like an accident instead of something obvious. Hide praise in your comments.

Chapter 55: The Killer Compliment

When you make your compliment personal and specific, chances are the recipient won’t be able to stop thinking about it. These comments take time and attention, so they’ll make an impression. The best way to do this is to deliver the compliment in private because this makes it credible. Also, give these compliments rarely so that they make a powerful impact.

Chapter 56: Little Strokes

These are short phrases to show appreciation. For example, “nice job”, “well done”, “you look great”, or “not bad”. Everyone needs words of appreciation. It may not sound like much, but this makes a big difference in everyday life.

Chapter 57: The Knee-Jerk “Wow”

Show words of appreciation as soon as possible. The more you wait, the less impact they’ll have.

Chapter 58: Boomeranging

The best way to receive a compliment is by replying with a sincere compliment yourself. The idea isn’t to repeat empty words but to echo the same feeling as the other person.

Chapter 59: The Tombstone Game

Deep down, we all think we’re special and we want to be recognized for it. When you praise someone you know, tell them what you’d like carved on your tombstone and then ask them what they’d like carved on theirs. Now you know what they value most and you can complement on that in the future.

Part 7: Direct Dial Their Hearts

A lot of people feel like they know you because they hear the sound of your voice on the phone. Technology’s powerful, but it doesn’t show you a lot of signals that come from your body language. How we behave face-to-face is similar to a theatrical performance, but while you can’t use body language on the phone, you can still use some techniques.

Chapter 60: Talking Gestures

When you’re talking face-to-face, you use winks or eyebrow raises, but those gestures are lost when you’re talking on the phone. That said, you can exaggerate certain words so that your personality comes across. Approve verbally to replace eye contact, express surprise through words instead of showing a look of admiration, and so on.

Chapter 61: Name Shower

To create closeness use the person’s name often. The other person will show interest and listen.  This technique generates a feeling of familiarity.

Chapter 62: Oh Wow, It’s You

As ridiculous as it sounds, answer the phone professionally, but as soon as you know who it is, smile. You’ll probably get a warm response and the rest of the call will unfold with energy and enthusiasm on both ends.

Chapter 63: The Sneaky Screen

When someone calls your company on business, the secretary should always say they’ll put them “right through”, even if the person they want to talk to is unavailable. When you deliver the bad news, the caller will fall for it.

Chapter 64: Salute the Spouse

Always greet the spouse or apologize for the disturbance if you’re calling them home. Likewise, when you call someone’s company greet the secretary. Being impolite might cause major losses in the future.

Chapter 65: What color is your time?

When you call someone on the phone, always ask if it’s convenient to talk. Make this a habit because you want to be polite and you want the other person to be at their most receptive. Show respect for people’s time.

Chapter 66: Constantly Changing Outgoing Message

Update your voicemail message often. This shows you’re smart and efficient. Keep your messages short, professional, and friendly.

Chapter 67: Your Ten-Second Audition

Auditions are notoriously brutal. When you create a voicemail it’s going to be scrutinized like an audition. Therefore, you must be confident, clear, and credible. You can also pique the listener’s interest, but whatever you do, keep it short.

Chapter 68: The Ho-Hum Caper

When you want to bypass a secretary and go straight to someone important, you can use pronouns like “he” or “she” instead of their name. Do this casually, as if you’re an old acquaintance.

Chapter 69: “I Hear Your Other Line”

When you’re on the phone and you hear background noise, as the person of they have to go. This gesture will not go unnoticed. This shows you’re sensitive and that you acknowledge your listener’s world. Also, always talk in the other person’s time zone and consider foreign holidays if they live in another country.

Chapter 70: Instant Replay

When you see something more than once, you start noticing subtleties that you missed before. Record and listen to phone conversations more than once to see what went well or not so well.

Part 8: How to Work a Party Like a Politician Works a Room

When there’s an important party coming up, think about who’s going, when to arrive, what to take with you, what’s the purpose of the party, and what will happen afterward.

Chapter 71: Munching or Mingling

Parties shouldn’t be about drinking or eating, at least not if you want to get something productive out of them. Nobody wants to approach someone who’s eating, so if your goal is to socialize, leave that for later or eat before going to the party.

Chapter 72: Rubberneck the Room

To make a grand entrance, stop and survey the crowd. Just stop for a moment and look around. Then, go ahead and socialize. The worst you could do is gravitate toward the people you know, acting scared.

Chapter 73: Be The Chooser, Not the Choosee

Don’t wait for others to talk to you, talk to them first. Look around and soon you’ll notice the people who can change your life.

Chapter 74: Come Hither-Hands

Use open language when going to parties. This welcomes people and encourages them to talk to you. An open body means uncrossed arms hanging at the sides, open palms, separated legs, and a slight smile. Anything between you and another person is interpreted as an obstacle.

Chapter 75: Tracking

Everyone wants to be the center of attention and when you remember small details, people pay attention. By doing this, you’re tracking their lives for them. Keep track of these details somehow and bring them up when you can.

Chapter 76: The Business Card Dossier

If you have trouble remembering details about people, you can always write them down. This can be anything, but when you bring it up again, it’ll make a difference.

Chapter 77: Eyeball Seeking

You can tell a lot from people’s body language. By studying their gestures, expressions, and movements you can tell a lot about them. Someone shrugging their shoulders shows indifference, someone tapping their fingers shows impatience, and so on. You can tailor what you say to people according to their reactions.

Part 9: Little Tricks of Big Winners

In a way, society is a popularity contest. Everyone has social disadvantages, but we have trouble recognizing them in ourselves. The idea is to identify those flaws and turn them into strengths.

Chapter 78: See No Blooper, Hear No Bloopers

When someone in your vicinity makes a mistake, act as if nothing had happened. Nobody wants to be reminded of their flaws, so ignore them and keep doing what you’re doing.

Chapter 79: Lend a Helping Tongue

When someone’s telling a story, they might get interrupted. When this happens, be the one who brings everyone’s attention back to the story and lets them make their point.

Chapter 80: Bare the Buried WIIFM

When someone talks, everyone’s thinking the same thing: “What’s in it for me?” Knowing this, highlight the benefits to the listeners, and if you want to get anything out of the conversation too, be honest about it.

Chapter 81: Let ’em Savour the Favour

When someone’s doing you a favor, wait some time before you do anything. Don’t be overanxious and wait at least twenty-four hours. 

Chapter 82: Tit for (Wait…Wait) Tat

When someone’s doing you a favor, remember it and look for excuses to repay that favor. This is an unspoken agreement and you don’t need to be reminded that you owe someone something.

Chapter 84: Dinner’s for Dining

Dinner isn’t the best time to have disagreements, misunderstandings, or to discuss controversial topics. Like parties, dinner is a sacred place everyone must respect. Brainstorming ideas is fine, but avoid discussing unpleasant matters.

Chapter 85: Chance Encounters Are for Chitchat

When you run into someone you haven’t seen in a while, use that moment for chitchat and not business. Out of gratitude, the other person might call you soon to discuss business.

Chapter 86: Empty Clear Tanks

When something happens, people need to talk about it. Bosses know this and they let their employees talk about their thoughts, worries, and enthusiasms until they’re finished.

Chapter 87: Echo the Emo

Sometimes you won’t be able to accept rationality and all you can do is embrace emotions. While everything comes down to facts, let people express their emotions and empathize with them.

Chapter 88: My Goof, Your Gain

When you make a mistake and it affects people, they should always come out ahead. You won’t be able to correct the error, but the benefit you provide will not be forgotten.

Chapter 89: Leave an Escape Hatch

When someone wrongs you, pretend nothing happened even if you’re angry. Don’t hurt someone’s ego even if they deserve it and don’t bring up the mistake again. This would be easy, but it will also affect your reputation.

Chapter 90: Buttercups for Their Boss

When someone does a good job, let their boss know. By sending a complimentary letter. They’ll both appreciate the gesture.

Chapter 91: Lead the Listeners

In presentations, people who respond first are usually leaders because they act genuinely and they don’t care about what everyone else is doing. Trusting your instincts is valuable and others can see that.

Chapter 92: The Great Scorecard in the Sky

Life is a game and you should always know the score. This involves knowing who’s winning, who’s losing, and how many points you need to come out ahead. In Japan, you can see who’s on top because their bow isn’t as low as their subordinates. That said, all cultures have an equivalent, even if it’s not as obvious. There’s a number gloating above people’s heads that reflects the value they provide to society. The number changes all the time, but the rule is that all players with lower scores owe respect to players with higher scores.

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