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HOW TO TALK TO ANYONE92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships
By LEIL LOWNDES
McGraw-HillCopyright © 2003 Leil Lowndes
All right reserved.
Chapter OneHow to Make Your Smile Magically Different
In 1936, one of Dale Carnegie's six musts in How to Win Friends and Influence People was SMILE! His edict has been echoed each decade by practically every communications guru who ever put pen to paper or mouth to microphone. However, at the turn of the millennium, it's high time we reexamine the role of the smile in high-level human relations. When you dig deeper into Dale's dictum, you'll find a 1936 quick smile doesn't always work. Especially nowadays.
The old-fashioned instant grin carries no weight with today's sophisticated crowd. Look at world leaders, negotiators, and corporate giants. Not a smiling sycophant among them. Key players in all walks of life enrich their smile so, when it does erupt, it has more potency and the world smiles with them.
Researchers have catalogued dozens of different types of smiles. They range from the tight rubber band of a trapped liar to the soft squishy smile of a tickled infant. Some smiles are warm while others are cold. There are real smiles and fake smiles. (You've seen plenty of those plastered on the faces of friends who say they're "delighted you decided to drop by," and presidential candidates visiting your city who say they're "thrilled to be in, uh ... uh....") Big winners know their smile is one of their most powerful weapons, so they've fine-tuned it for maximum impact.
How to Fine-Tune Your Smile
Just last year, my old college friend Missy took over her family business, a Midwestern company supplying corrugated boxes to manufacturers. One day she called saying she was coming to New York to court new clients and she invited me to dinner with several of her prospects. I was looking forward to once again seeing my friend's quicksilver smile and hearing her contagious laugh. Missy was an incurable giggler, and that was part of her charm.
When her Dad passed away last year, she told me she was taking over the business. I thought Missy's personality was a little bubbly to be a CEO in a tough business. But, hey, what do I know about the corrugated box biz?
She, three of her potential clients, and I met in the cocktail lounge of a midtown restaurant and, as we led them into the dining room, Missy whispered in my ear, "Please call me Melissa tonight."
"Of course," I winked back, "not many company presidents are called Missy!" Soon after the maître d' seated us, I began noticing Melissa was a very different woman from the giggling girl I'd known in college. She was just as charming; she smiled as much as ever. Yet something was different. I couldn't quite put my finger on it.
Although she was still effervescent, I had the distinct impression everything Melissa said was more insightful and sincere. She was responding with genuine warmth to her prospective clients, and I could tell they liked her, too. I was thrilled because my friend was scoring a knockout that night. By the end of the evening, Melissa had three big new clients.
Afterward, alone with her in the cab, I said, "Missy, you've really come a long way since you took over the company. Your whole personality has developed, well, a really cool, sharp corporate edge."
"Uh uh, only one thing has changed," she said.
"My smile," she said.
"Your what?" I asked incredulously.
"My smile," she repeated as though I hadn't heard her. "You see," she said, with a distant look coming into her eyes, "when Dad got sick and knew in a few years I'd have to take over the business, he sat me down and had a life-changing conversation with me. I'll never forget his words. Dad said, 'Missy, Honey, remember that old song, "I Loves Ya, Honey, But Yer Feet's Too Big"? Well, if you're going to make it big in the box business, let me say, "I loves ya, Honey, but your smile's too quick."'
"He then brought out a yellowed newspaper article quoting a study he'd been saving to show me when the time was right. It concerned women in business. The study showed women who were slower to smile in corporate life were perceived as more credible."
As Missy talked, I began to think about history-making women like Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir, Madeleine Albright, and other powerful women of their ilk. Not one was known for her quick smile.
Missy continued, "The study went on to say a big, warm smile is an asset. But only when it comes a little slower, because then it has more credibility." From that moment on, Missy explained, she gave clients and business associates her big smile. However, she trained her lips to erupt more slowly. Thus her smile appeared more sincere and personalized for the recipient.
That was it! Missy's slower smile gave her personality a richer, deeper, more sincere cachet. Though the delay was less than a second, the recipients of her beautiful big smile felt it was special and just for them.
I decided to do more research on the smile. When you're in the market for shoes, you begin to look at everyone's feet. When you decide to change your hairstyle, you look at everyone's haircut. Well, for several months, I became a steady smile watcher. I watched smiles on the street. I watched smiles on TV. I watched the smiles of politicians, the clergy, corporate giants, and world leaders. My findings? Amid the sea of flashing teeth and parting lips, I discovered the people perceived to have the most credibility and integrity were just ever so slower to smile. Then, when they did, their smiles seemed to seep into every crevice of their faces and envelop them like a slow flood. Thus I call the following technique "The Flooding Smile."
Let us now travel but a few inches north to two of the most powerful communications tools you possess, your eyes.
Chapter TwoHow to Strike Everyone as Intelligent and Insightful by Using Your Eyes
It's only a slight exaggeration to say Helen of Troy could launch ships with her eyes and Davy Crockett could stare down a bear. Your eyes are personal grenades that have the power to detonate people's emotions. Just as martial arts masters register their fists as lethal weapons, you can register your eyes as psychological lethal weapons when you master the following eye-contact techniques.
Beloved people in the game of life look beyond the conventional wisdom that teaches "Keep good eye contact." For one, they understand that to certain suspicious or insecure people, intense eye contact can be a virulent intrusion.
When I was growing up, my family had a Haitian housekeeper whose fantasies were filled with witches, warlocks, and black magic. Zola refused to be left alone in a room with Louie, my Siamese cat. "Louie looks right through me—sees my soul," she'd whisper to me fearfully.
In some cultures, intense eye contact is sorcery. In others, staring at someone can be threatening or disrespectful. Realizing this, big players in the international scene prefer to pack a book on cultural body-language differences in their carry-on rather than a Berlitz phrase book. In our culture, however, big winners know exaggerated eye contact can be extremely advantageous, especially between the sexes. In business, even when romance is not in the picture, strong eye contact packs a powerful wallop between men and women.
A Boston center conducted a study to learn the precise effect. The researchers asked opposite-sex individuals to have a two-minute casual conversation. They tricked half their subjects into maintaining intense eye contact by directing them to count the number of times their partner blinked. They gave the other half of the subjects no special eye-contact directions for the chat.
When they questioned the subjects afterward, the unsuspecting blinkers reported significantly higher feelings of respect and fondness for their colleagues who, unbeknownst to them, had simply been counting their blinks.
I've experienced the closeness intense eye contact engenders with a stranger firsthand. Once, when giving a seminar to several hundred people, one woman's face in the crowd caught my attention. The participant's appearance was not particularly unique. Yet she became the focus of my attention throughout my talk. Why? Because not for one moment did she take her eyes off my face. Even when I finished making a point and was silent, her eyes stayed hungrily on my face. I sensed she couldn't wait to savor the next insight to spout from my lips. I loved it! Her concentration and obvious fascination inspired me to remember stories and make important points I'd long forgotten.
Right after my talk, I resolved to seek out this new friend who was so enthralled by my speech. As people were leaving the hall, I quickly sidled up behind my big fan. "Excuse me," I said. My fan kept walking. "Excuse me," I repeated a tad louder. My admirer didn't vary her pace as she continued out the door. I followed her into the corridor and tapped her shoulder gently. This time she whirled around with a surprised look on her face. I mumbled some excuse about my appreciating her concentration on my talk and wanting to ask her a few questions.
"Did you, uh, get much out of the seminar?" I ventured.
"Well, not really," she answered candidly. "I had difficulty understanding what you were saying because you were walking around on the platform facing different directions."
In a heartbeat, I understood. The woman was hearing impaired. I did not captivate her as I had suspected. She was not intrigued by my talk as I had hoped. The only reason she kept her eyes glued on my face was because she was struggling to read my lips!
Nevertheless, her eye contact had given me such pleasure and inspiration during my talk that, tired as I was, I asked her to join me for coffee. I spent the next hour recapping my entire seminar just for her. Powerful stuff this eye contact.
Make Your Eyes Look Even More Intelligent
There is yet another argument for intense eye contact. In addition to awakening feelings of respect and affection, maintaining strong eye contact gives you the impression of being an intelligent and abstract thinker. Because abstract thinkers integrate incoming data more easily than concrete thinkers, they can continue looking into someone's eyes even during the silences. Their thought processes are not distracted by peering into their partner's peepers.
Back to our valiant psychologists. Yale researchers, thinking they had the unswerving truth about eye contact, conducted another study that, they assumed, would confirm "the more eye contact, the more positive feelings." This time, they directed subjects to deliver a personally revealing monologue. They asked the listeners to react with a sliding scale of eye contact while their partners talked.
The results? All went as expected when women told their personal stories to women. Increased eye contact encouraged feelings of intimacy. But, whoops, it wasn't so with the men. Some men felt hostile when stared at too long by another man. Other men felt threatened. Some few even suspected their partner was more interested than he should be and wanted to slug him.
Your partner's emotional reaction to your profound gaze has a biological base. When you look intently at someone, it increases their heartbeat and shoots an adrenalinelike substance gushing through their veins. This is the same physical reaction people have when they start to fall in love. And when you consciously increase your eye contact, even during normal business or social interaction, people will feel they have captivated you.
Men talking to women and women talking to men or women: use the following technique, which I call "Sticky Eyes," for the joy of the recipient—and for your own advantage. (Guys, I'll have a man-to-man modification of this technique for you in a moment.)
What About Guys' Eyes?
Now gentlemen: when talking to men, you, too, can use Sticky Eyes. Just make them a little less sticky when discussing personal matters with other men, lest your listener feel threatened or misinterpret your intentions. But do increase your eye contact slightly more than normal with men on day-to-day communications—and a lot more when talking to women. It broadcasts a visceral message of comprehension and respect.
I have a friend, Sammy, a salesman who unwittingly comes across as an arrogant chap. He doesn't mean to, but sometimes his brusque manner makes it look like he's running roughshod over people's feelings.
Once while we were having dinner together in a restaurant, I told him about the Sticky Eyes technique. I guess he took it to heart. When the waiter came over, Sammy, uncharacteristically, instead of bluntly blurting out his order with his nose in the menu, looked at the waiter. He smiled, gave his order for the appetizer, and kept his eyes on the waiter's for an extra second before looking down again at the menu to choose the main dish. I can't tell you how different Sammy seemed to me just then! He came across as a sensitive and caring man, and all it took was two extra seconds of eye contact. I saw the effect it had on the waiter, too. We received exceptionally gracious service the rest of the evening.
A week later Sammy called me and said, "Leil, Sticky Eyes has changed my life. I've been following it to a T. With women, I make my eyes real sticky and with men slightly sticky. And now everybody's treating me with such deference. I think it's part of the reason I've made more sales this week than all last month!"
If you deal with customers or clients in your professional life, Sticky Eyes is a definite boon to your bottom line. To most people in our culture, profound eye contact signals trust, knowledge, an "I'm here for you" attitude.
Let's carry Sticky Eyes one step further. Like a potent medicine that has the power to kill or cure, the next eye-contact technique has the potential to captivate or annihilate.
Chapter ThreeHow to Use Your Eyes to Make Someone Fall in Love with You
Now we haul in the heavy eyeball artillery: very sticky eyes or superglue eyes. Let's call them "Epoxy Eyes." Big bosses use Epoxy Eyes to evaluate employees. Police investigators use Epoxy Eyes to intimidate suspected criminals. And clever Romeos use Epoxy Eyes to make women fall in love with them. (If romance is your goal, Epoxy Eyes is a proven aphrodisiac.)
The Epoxy Eyes technique takes at least three people to pull off—you, your target, and one other person. Here's how it works. Usually, when you're chatting with two or more people, you gaze at the person who is speaking. However, the Epoxy Eyes technique suggests you concentrate on the listener—your target—rather than the speaker. This slightly disorients the target and he or she silently asks, "Why is this person looking at me instead of the speaker?" Your target senses you are extremely interested in his or her reactions. This can be beneficial in certain business situations when it is appropriate that you judge the listener.
Human resources professionals often use Epoxy Eyes, not as a technique, but because they are sincerely interested in a prospective employee's reaction to certain ideas being presented. Attorneys, bosses, police investigators, psychologists, and others who must examine subjects' reactions also use Epoxy Eyes for analytical purposes.
When you use Epoxy Eyes, it sends out signals of interest blended with complete confidence in yourself. But because Epoxy Eyes puts you in a position of evaluating or judging someone else, you must be careful. Don't overdo it or you could come across as arrogant and brazen.
Sometimes using full Epoxy Eyes is too potent, so here is a gentler, yet effective, form. Watch the speaker but let your glance bounce to your target each time the speaker finishes a point. This way Mr. or Ms. Target still feels you are intrigued by his or her reactions, yet there is relief from the intensity.
Use Epoxy Eyes to Push Their Erotic Button
If romance is on the horizon, Epoxy Eyes transmits yet another message. It says, "I can't take my eyes off you" or "I only have eyes for you." Anthropologists have dubbed eyes "the initial organ of romance" because studies show intense eye contact plays havoc with our heartbeat. It also releases a druglike substance into our nervous system called phenylethylamine. Since this is the hormone detected in the human body during erotic excitement, intense eye contact can be a turn-on.
Excerpted from HOW TO TALK TO ANYONE by LEIL LOWNDES Copyright © 2003 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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