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A review of "How to make people like you in 90 seconds or less"

I just finished How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less by Nicholas Boothman, and I loved it. The title is somewhat misleading and provocative, but this delightful little tome provides a nice tutorial for how to help establish rapport with people you want to connect with, in the crucial first minute or so.

Doing this consciously, and developing the requisite skills, is something I've neither thought about nor needed much in the past (as a research software programmer), but is crucial to my new direction (productivity consulting). I'm now meeting all sorts of people - potential and current clients, fellow professionals, etc. - and I really need to make a connection quickly in order to accomplish our joint mission together (e.g., exchanging information, getting message across, being understood).

The book covers a lot of fascinating ground, and is organized into the three parts of connecting:
  1. Meet. "Open - Eye - Beam - Hi! - Lean": open attitude and body, be first with eye contact, be first to smile, say hi or hello, extend hand, say name, and lean slightly toward the person.
  2. Establish rapport. Four factors: Attitude, synchronizing (body language, voice tone), conversational skills, ability to discover other's dominant sense (visual, auditory, or kinesthetic).
  3. Communicate. Three parts: Know what you want, find out what you're getting, change what you do until you get what you want (KFC).

Part one of the book talks about meeting, but I'll not give any more detail beyond #1 above.

In the second part the author goes into detail on establishing rapport, including having a Really Useful Attitude (e.g., being warm, welcoming, interested), having open body language, and ensuring congruity between your words, voice, and body language. He then covers synchronizing, including attitude, body language, and voice.

In part three he details the crucial final step of communicating - conversing well. Key points include asking open questions (Who? When? What? Why? Where? How?), using "openers" after saying hello or exchanging smiles (precede with location/occasion statements), offering free information about yourself before asking about others, and using active listening (paraphrase, but don't parrot). He also covers avoiding conversation pitfalls, and making yourself memorable. Finally he introduces the fascinating idea of how people perceive the world - visual (55%), auditory (15%), and kinesthetic (30%) - and how to tune in to their sensory preferences. (A quick example is talking speed; visuals usually talk very fast, kinesthetics more slowly, and auditories somewhere in between.)

In addition, the book has a number of practice exercises to try, in order to improve skills, including "Firing Energy", "triggering Happy Memories", "Words vs. Tone", "In and Out of Sync", "Sound Effects", and "Brain Lock". I didn't try many these, mainly because I wanted to get through the book quickly, and many require a partner. However, I see how doing them would surely deepen my understanding. Something for "Someday/Maybe."

My recommendation? Buy it! It's fascinating, practical, and fun to learn and apply.

Reader Comments (2)

Aha! Maybe that's the reason I talk so fast! Although now I've given up caffeine/coffee, I wonder if my speech has slowed...

Happy New Year, Matt!

January 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

"Aha! Maybe that's the reason I talk so fast! Although now I've given up caffeine/coffee, I wonder if my speech has slowed..." -- Knowing you, it's the brain that's working so fast. Good insight!

January 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell

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