How to talk to anyone by Leil Lowndes

Think of the times in our awkward teens when there were friends and relatives at home and all we did was to hope they went away quickly for we dreaded conversing with them. And if you had that still more awkward growth spurt where you looked like a lean tree without leaves or wore braces on your teeth, I would completely feel your embarrassment. 


Author : Leil Lowndes
Originally Published : 2003
Publication : McGraw-Hill Education
Pages : 368
Genre(s) :-
Non-Fiction, Self-Help

Why just teens, many people find talking to others a bothersome task. What to talk, how to initiate, how to hold on to the conversation, these questions mar their already nervous persona. But Lowndes has come as a whiff of fresh air. Having been a school teacher, to taking care of her sick mom, then being an Air Hostess just to come out of the social anxiety that she faced to going on to become a public speaker and TV host, Leil Lowndes has taken every effort in the book to learn ‘how to talk to anyone’. Leil Lowndes comes across just like you and me. 

At the beginning of this book, Lowndes speaks of her college theatre coach yelling at her that the way her body moves is her autobiography. In the quest to find the secrets to talking effortlessly with anyone, Lowndes comes up with a list, a good 92 secrets. 

She begins with the eyes and how you smile. Her tip is to first soak in the persona of the other person and then let out a warm genuine smile. Don’t smile immediately on seeing somebody, she tells you.Her tricks don’t end there, she goes on to tell about the sticky eyes method – where you don’t move your stare even after someone has stopped talking, and ever so lightly takes your eyes off them. 

Many of these techniques veer on the premise of the eyes, the eyebrows, the smile (and the quantum of it), facial expressions and hand gestures, limiting the fidgeting, posture and that slight tilt of the body towards or away from someone. So basically, it is all about communicating more without words than with it. Just the way police officers and seasoned recruiters know exactly when someone is lying. Is that someone touching his neck, frowning, tilting backwards when he shouldn’t? It’s more about matching with the people we’re speaking with. Aligning with their body language and allowing ourselves to be relaxed. Sometimes by visualizing, some other times by matching our mood with theirs. Leil says almost anything you say in the first few seconds doesn’t make much difference, people are scanning your body language to see if you’re genuine and then they carry that impression throughout your conversation. 

Leil’s splendid observations come in flashes, when she says carry your own Whatzit. That one conversation starter. Like someone carries beads, someone has a queer kerchief up their pocket. Or take the Whoozat. Ask the party giver about someone interesting and hold on to that piece of information to initiate a conversation. Know something about your own city, your own job and speak about it- don’t just mention your city’s name as a single word. You know that way you can take the conversation forward. Otherwise one words rarely did that. 

There are some hilarious ones- like eavesdrop on someone’s conversation to pick up cues. Don’t speak about yourself and maintain the interest (swiveling the spotlight) or parroting the last lines of someone and never leave home without some interesting news to talk about.

There are sections where you’re told how to talk like VIPs. Talk in full sentences, full of hints to stoke the pride of the person before you. Use phrases, open the thesaurus and find interesting words. Drop them to great effect. There are also tips to guide you about talking with celebrities. Don’t talk about their recent work or their fame, she says, they hear enough of it. Instead, show how happy you genuinely are to meet them and they feel good. Talking with people in other countries is also a different matter altogether, wherein one must be aware, additionally, of the local customs, traditions and usage of words. 

Key Takeaways

  1. The entire notion of communication with anyone dwells on the premise of initiating and holding conversation. For those to whom it doesn’t come naturally, it is an effort to be made
  2. Talking to anyone requires proper understanding about the person before you. Before words, the body speaks more and louder. Being aware of non-verbal cues helps in talking
  3. Humans respond to emotions and body language on an unconscious level. Make use of this while talking

Why I recommend this book

To some of us, communication comes at ease. Most of us have to make effort to talk, especially to strangers. 

This book would help in easing out the hesitation (and fear in some cases) to start talking to just about anyone. I find the book very important for people who are introverts and fear before talking to someone. Apply one or many of the 92 tips given in this book and you’re bound to feel confident. So for once, talking to someone is also a process, a science and an art, all rolled in one.

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