Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How to talk to anyone

There are two kinds of people in this life:

Those who walk into a room and say,

“Well, here I am!”

And those who walk in and say,

“Ahh, there you are!"

Have you seen the Season 5 Episode of "Two and a Half Men" where Jake struggles with a book report assignment by continuing to misplace the book, making Charlie and Alan revisit the bookstore? Charlie hesitantly goes to the self-help section trying to make sure no one he knows sees him there and finally ends up meeting a relationship self-help author Angie that he is totally enamored with. Does this self-help shyness ring a bell for you? It does for me as I have discovered ..well, read on! The first time I laid my eyes on " How to Talk to Anyone - 92 little tricks for big success in relationships" by communications expert Leil Lowndes in my brother's library , I couldn't stop laughing ( and making fun of him for having that title in his possession - especially given the smooth talker that he already is!) I think it was in part the stark yellow cover with in your face font, hard to ignore ( read indulging) title and in part my own hesitation for "how to anything" self-help books. Nevertheless, I couldn't resist borrowing the book from my brother (who I doubt ever read it ). For next four years, the book was eating dust in my library. I glanced at it every now and then but never quite picked to read it up. Really? I don't need tips on how to talk to "anyone"! I am sure the book must have felt very lonely and ignored as most of its neighbors got read, underlined ( with notes in margins) , quoted, misquoted and reviewed!

Fast forward to a regular summer day not so long ago, when once again I gave the book a passing glance. Only this around, I decided well why not?! But wait, I wasn't quite over my self-help shyness. I read the book in the gym. I read it in the train. I read it in the bus - all the time quite cleverly hiding the cover page from my compatriots lest they might laugh at me as I did when I first saw the book in my brother's book shelf!( I didn't even have it on my "Now reading" list here on this blog!) Nevertheless, for the last few weeks, I couldn't stop devouring the pearls of wisdom by Lowndes. As promised, the book is filled with nice tips about making personal, professional or public speaking skills more effective. From the initial eye contact when you meet someone to the enticing smile to the great posture to learning to be a pea in any pod - there are so many subtle and not so subtle things which can be the difference between a deal or no deal, an I do or thanks, but no thanks. For example, how many times do you make the common mistake of blunt interrogation of a new acquaintance with "What do you do?". Do you know that the more gracious way of asking what a person does for a living is simply "how-do-you-spend-most-of-your-time?" If the person wishes to speak about their work life and office story, its their choice. If a spiritual soul would rather speak about their quest for inner beauty so be it. If a stay at home mother wishes to speak about her busy schedule with kids- so be it - Let "them" decide!

The writing style is very entertaining with tips like "comm-YOU-nication' to put the spotlight on your conversation partner ( instead of me-myself-I-reign syndrome), 'never the naked introduction' to pad your introductions with something more personalized than simple names of the people you are connecting, 'eyeball selling' to watch for body language while making a sales pitch and 'learn the jobbledygook' the language of professions different from yours . Read the book to learn more about these and many other tips. You'd be surprised what big difference small things can make!

As for me, here is a personal lesson I have learnt from how to talk to anyone ( apart from how to talk to anyone hopefully!) - that just as charity begins at home - help begins with self! There is nothing embarrassing about quest for self improvement and that no matter how good we might be in communication or any other field, there is always a room to improve. I am on my way to accept a good self help book with an open and ever inquisitive mind. What about you?


Chandra said...

Well, personally I've always looked differently at people who read these 'self-help' books... I mean look at their titles - How to lose wight in 30 days? How to win friends etc. etc.

Neha said...

I have learnt not to judge a book by its ' How to 'title!