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How to Instantly Connect with Anyone
By LEIL LOWNDES
McGraw-HillCopyright © 2009 Leil Lowndes
All right reserved.
Chapter OnePART ONE Seven Little Tricks to Make a Great Impression Before People Even Meet You
How to Develop Excellent Eye Contact in Ten Easy Steps
Ever since Mommy yanked you out from hiding behind her skirts and told you to look people in the eyes, you've known how crucial good eye contact is. In the Western world, it signifies honesty, respect, interest, intelligence, candor, and confidence. Yet, for many, the most difficult aspect of meeting people is looking into their eyes long enough to really connect with them. Why is this a challenge, even for some self-assured people? Because, like tigers staring each other down in the jungle, intense eye contact ignites a primitive fight-or- flight instinct. If the tiger looks away, it could get pounced on. Weak eye contact is a handicap in the human jungle, too. Here is a ten-step physical therapy program to strengthen your eye contact.
While gazing at someone, slowly describe the color of her eyes to yourself. Don't stop at blue or brown, light to dark. There are sapphire, pale, and ice blue eyes. Brown eyes can be hazel, almond, or earthy. Grey can range from light slate to dark storm cloud. Sometimes we've known people for years and can't accurately describe their eye color. Think of half a dozen friends. Can you picture the precise color of their eyes?
The second time you look at the same person, check out the shape of her eyes. Are they round? Oval? Almond? How much of the whites of her eyes are showing? And how white are they? A bit bloodshot?
Here is another crutch for the "eye-contact challenged": Study how far apart her eyes are. Ask yourself, "If she loaned me her binoculars, would I have to separate the eyepieces or bring them together?"
Are her eyes symmetrical? Is one eye a little smaller or droopier than the other?
Another time, concentrate on the length of her eyelashes. Are they straight? Curly? What color are they?
When you are with a small group, watch each person's eyes to determine whom he is looking at most.
When extended eye contact is called for, such as when someone is speaking, count his blinks. A study reported in the Journal of Research in Personality called "The Effects of Mutual Gaze on Feelings of Romantic Love" proved that people who were directed to count each other's eye blinks during a conversation developed stronger romantic feelings than members of a control group who were given no eye contact directions.
Here are a few more ways to train yourself to become comfortable with maintaining excellent eye contact. Try to determine if he is wearing contact lenses. And are the lenses colored or clear?
If he is wearing glasses, are his eyes in the center of the frame? A bit above? A bit below? Are they bifocals?
This last one is for women only. Determine how much eye makeup another female is wearing. Mascara? Shadow? Eyeliner? (Stop laughing, gentlemen, we women do that naturally.)
If you practice these ten techniques, looking into some-one's eyes will gradually become more natural and less daunting, with out depending on these crutches.
After you have practiced Little Trick #1, you graduate to a strategic way to use your eyes—when appropriate.
How to Use Your Eyes to Make People Crave Your Approval
In certain circumstances, the following facial expression can be quite potent and help you achieve your goals be they professional, social, or romantic.
As an example, I'll take the latter because it's a personal story of how Little Trick #2 helped me "take the tumble."
I was on a cruise ship called the Homeric. One night, I and a group of other fawning passengers were invited to sit at the captain's table. While someone else was speaking, I happened to see Captain Accornero's face. He was looking at me and—BLAM!—his expression made me want to be a blob of putty in his hands. His head was tilted, his brow was furrowed, and he was looking at me intently with slightly squinted eyes. The expression gave his face an intensity, as though he were searching for something. Giorgio seemed to be assessing me, judging me. It gave him a superior demeanor. I felt like a Roman gladiator praying for the thumbs-up from the emperor.
But, I must admit, I liked it. When Giorgio's lips softened into a smile, it was as though he had saved me from the lions.
Sadly, months later after we started dating, I realized Giorgio was not using the scrutinizing expression as a "capture Leil" technique, although it unquestionably achieved that goal. The reason for his searching look was that, as a ship's captain, he spends many nights on the ship's bridge searching for signs of other vessels through dense fog. That's why I call this Little Trick "Searching Eyes."
First let me tell you how to make the expression, and then I'll share some suggestions on where and why to use it.
How Do You Make Searching Eyes?
Imagine yourself driving on a winding country road in a sparsely populated part of the country. The night is inky black—no moon, no street lights. Suddenly, a dense fog encircles you and your car stalls. You pray there is a house in the distance so you can call for help. You get out of the car, squint your eyes, and search intently through the thick fog for any sign of light.
You have now have executed Step One of Searching Eyes.
Step Two: Finally you see the distant headlights of a car coming your way. At last, help. Your face relaxes and a slight smile softens your lips.
The first phase of the expression gives people the impression that you are evaluating them—not in an unfriendly way, but thoughtfully. Then, when they see the second phase, they will interpret your expression as contemplative acceptance. Therefore, they value it all the more.
How to Use It in Business
Searching Eyes is an effective tool in the corporate world. It demonstrates contemplation behind your final approval of an individual or even of an idea someone has just presented. It puts you in the superior position of evaluating them. Hold the expression for as long or as short as the situation demands.
Women, because people sometimes view us as too accommodating, this Little Trick is an especially powerful professional tool for us. It combats that weaker image and makes you appear more authoritative. Resolve to use it in certain situations, most particularly when dealing with old-style sexist male managers.
How to Use It Socially
When you are meeting potential friends, definitely tone down the first phase of the expression to just a flicker. However, showing a brief second of Searching Eyes before your warm "hello" makes you look more heartfelt and genuine. After that, be sure to keep good eye-friendly contact when communicating with that person.
How to Use It for Romance
Gentlemen, Searching Eyes unquestionably has an interesting effect on women—as you've seen from my experience with the captain. When used appropriately, it can to make her anxious to win your approval.
Conversely, women, if you plan to use Searching Eyes on a potential romantic partner, tread gently. Most men fear rejection and will interpret it as such. Make Step One exceedingly brief before granting him your smile of acceptance.
Of course, to make them feel that your approval is, indeed, a prize they've won, you must come across as a confident individual, someone who is confident in his or her own skin.
Here's how to prepare for that—before you even meet them!
How to Wear Confidence When Meeting People
The next two Little Tricks should be regular practice for ladies, gentlemen, and their offspring who want to feel confident at important meetings, parties, or the first day of kindergarten.
One summer, a sizable law firm invited me to give a seminar called "The Corporate Image." The audience consisted mainly of paralegals, administrative assistants, and a smattering of attorneys. Their company culture was conservative, and, of course, I had to set a good fashion example. However, I had the constant female complaint, "I don't have a thing to wear." I needed a summer suit to express a cool corporate image—a splendid excuse to go on a rare shopping spree.
After not finding a suit at a dozen reasonable shops, I wandered into an overpriced boutique, with no intention of actually purchasing anything there. But there it was on the mannequin—a Bill Blass suit—way beyond my budget and just begging me to buy it. It was the ideal attire for my attorney's talk. The magnificent suit had a silk crepe pleated skirt, a matching long jacket, and a steep price. But I was in love. As I swirled around in front of the dressing room mirror, turning it down was not an option.
Once home, I carefully hung it in the back of my closet, never to be touched by human hands until the day of my presentation.
The Big Day Arrives
On the day of the corporate image talk, I slipped into my stunning new suit. Just before my program began, I went to the ladies' room, freshened my lipstick, and admired myself in the mirror one last time before going off to win the crowd.
The first part of the talk went beautifully. About ten minutes into the seminar, however, I turned my back to write something on the flip chart. The crowd gasped. I heard women suppressing giggles. Spinning around, I saw attorneys with smirks on their faces nudging each other. Others turned away embarrassment. The group couldn't hold it in any longer, and laughter broke out all over the room.
The meeting planner came scampering up the aisle like the worried white rabbit. She whispered in my ear, "Leil, your skirt is caught up in your pantyhose." Now it was my turn to gasp. I grabbed at what I thought was going to be the back of my skirt. Instead, my hands landed on bulging pantyhose with my silk skirt trapped under it. I had mooned the venerable attorneys and their staffs!
I attempted to cover it with humor by saying, "Heh heh, you'll notice 'modest' wasn't in my introduction." That weak joke didn't work, so I made a second attempt. I told them that the acronym "C.Y.A." suddenly had a new significance for me. (In the Lawyer's Bible, it stands for "cover your ass.") That one broke the ice. Laughter ensued, and the crowd's discomfort dissipated. But not my humiliation.
It was tough to get back on track with the presentation. I figured I'd better get off of skirts and talk about something else. "Ahem. Jackets are powerful for women," I began. Peeking down at my notes, I spotted a ring of perspiration under my arm expanding like a ripple from a stone thrown in the lake.
"Just don't choose silk," I mumbled.
Not for Women Only
Gentlemen, for fashion and safety, you too should try out your clothes before committing to wear them. Single gentlemen, this is crucial because women are ruthless when it comes to judging a man's clothing. One slipped sock showing a hairy leg could get you written off.
Men have told me horror stories of unraveled trouser hems, popped buttons, and zippers that unzipped at inappropriate moments. One gentleman told me his new date heard his howl from the men's room. How could he explain to her that his zipper got caught on a tender part of his anatomy?
Believe it or not, in first-class conservative companies, a man's clothing is even more crucial. To a certain degree, the cut of his suit and shine of his shoes can determine how far he goes in the company.
But what if I'm not going anywhere social to try new clothes out? I'd feel ridiculous pushing a shopping cart in a suit or skyscraper heels.
Not a problem. Read on.
Home Sweet Home
You know how relaxed you are in your favorite jeans and T-shirt watching TV or reading a book. Tranquility is anchored to these clothes. Each time you slip them on, you feel psychological ease. They are like your second skin. You're not worried that your tee is too tight or your jeans too short. Why? Because you've lived in them.
Now let's talk about your new knock 'em dead outfit. You know you look like a million bucks in it. However, if the outfit doesn't have that comfortable "lived-in" feeling, you won't be at ease wearing it. To make a good impression, you must be relaxed in whatever you've got on your back. Here is a technique to do just that.
How to Make People Appreciate Your Introduction
No two people hearing the same words—at the same time, from the same person—ever get the same sense of what someone said. Every sound that comes out of someone's mouth strikes a minefield of each listener's buried memories, associations, and a lifetime of emotional pleasure or pain from everyone they've ever met.
Even the order of words in a single sentence can affect how someone feels about the speaker. For example, I've often heard a man introduce his wife: "I'd like you to meet my wife, Wilma." Or a wife say, "This is my husband, Harold."
Most people would ask, "What's wrong with that?" Can you guess? It will be obvious after I tell you about a bigheaded former boss.
Whenever this man introduced me, he would arrogantly announce, "This is my assistant, Leil." Once it was, "This is my assistant, uh, uh, Leil."
The facts were correct. I was, indeed, his assistant. What stung was the order of his words. He said it as though his first four words were the only essential ones, and the last word, my name, was optional. Would it have hurt his self-image to think of me as a human being whom he employed as his assistant— rather than any featherless biped who could fill that role? I wished he'd dismount his high horse just once to predict how the way he worded his sentence made me feel demeaned and disconnected from him. People would have a different impression of both of us if he had said, "This is Leil, my assistant," putting my name first.
Whoa! Back up, Leil. You're being way too sensitive.
My answer is everybody is supersensitive—when it comes to themselves.
I'm sure ol' Bighead didn't mean to demean me. He just didn't have the Emotional Prediction that the CEO in the Introduction did.
It's subtle. It's subliminal. It takes superior sensitivity. But it's worth it. Your prediction of other people's feelings makes them feel good, not only about themselves, but about you. They probably won't even be aware of whether their name came before or after their position. They'll just know they feel better when they're around you.
Put Their Name Before Their Position
Don't say, "Meet my boyfriend, Harold." Say, "Meet Harold, my boyfriend."
Don't say, "I'd like to introduce you to my wife, Wilma." Replace the subconscious pain prick with the pleasure-pat of hearing, "Wilma, my wife."
If it is not something simple like "my wife," stop after saying her name. Then start a new sentence heralding her relationship to you. I dreamed of hearing Mr. Pompous say, "I'd like to introduce you to Leil. She is my assistant who has been working for me for three months."
And, of course, I wouldn't have minded if he insisted on adding, "and I really like working with her." That comment would have made people like him more, too. Shakespeare told us, "All the world loves a lover." He forgot to add, "All the world likes a 'liker.'"
Dale vs. Leil
If Dale Carnegie were alive today, he and I would duel with our pens over the next Little Trick. Mr. Carnegie's reputed "hail fellow, well met" philosophy was excellent for the 1930s and for many decades thereafter. In the new millennium, however, many of us have had it up to our ears with hyper types who "come on big." In business and social situations, we respect people who have a more thoughtful approach to conversing.
If you start out too low-key, though, how are they to know how magnificent you are?
How to Get Them "Dying to Meet You"
You are going to a gathering where there will be lots of new folks. So you brush your teeth, spray on deodorant, shine your shoes, and look in the mirror. You like what you see. But will new acquaintances agree?
Suppose you are not hot or drop-dead gorgeous. What if looks are not your strong suit? How else can you impress them? If you don't tell them about your brilliance, your amazing accomplishments, and your, um, humility, how will they know? But if you do tell them, they baptize you a braggart. If you try to slip it in by saying something smart too soon, they swear you're a show-off. It's a catch-22.
So what's someone like you with a myriad of marvelous qualities and exceptional achievements to do? Enter Little Trick #6.
Have you ever listened to a lecture by some so-called celebrity you never heard of? The introducer exaggerates endlessly about her triumphs and talents. After such an inflated introduction, the audience is salivating to see and hear this highly esteemed individual.
Excerpted from How to Instantly Connect with Anyone by LEIL LOWNDES Copyright © 2009 by Leil Lowndes. Excerpted by permission of McGraw-Hill. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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