Thursday, January 26, 2006

How to make people like you in 90 seconds or less.

An intriguing title for a book! This small book (less than 200 pages) is written by Nicholas Boothman. It covers a pretty broad range of topics. From my perspective, the book did a decent job of bringing body language, communication skills, and behavior together. It covers a lot of ground with everyday examples. One of the acronyms that is fascinating is KFC. Know what you want, Find out what you are getting, Change what you do until you get what you want. The key is the "K" know what you want. Once you know what you want, you can direct your attitude, synchronize appropriately, communicate effectively by using the preferred senses.

The book focuses on achieving rapport when it does not come naturally. Boothman calls his technique "Rapport by Design". In this technique, you the reader, will assume the characteristics of the person you are engaged with temporarily,"The key to establish rapport with strangers is to become like them". He describes various ways of doing that, especially through body language and the right attitude. The author describes to general types of attitudes. A "Really Useful Attitude" and a "Really Useless Attitude".

Really Useful AttitudeReally Useless Attitude

  • Warm

  • Enthusiastic

  • Confident

  • Supportive

  • Relaxed

  • Obliging

  • Curious

  • Resourceful

  • Comfortable

  • Helpful

  • Engaging

  • Laid back

  • Patient

  • Welcoming

  • Cheery

  • Interested

  • Angry

  • Sarcastic

  • Impatient

  • Bored

  • Disrespectful

  • Conceited

  • Pessimistic

  • Anxious

  • Rude

  • suspicious

  • Vengeful

  • Afraid

  • Self-conscious

  • Mocking

  • Embarrassed

  • Dutiful

The whole idea to list the useful and useless attitudes is to get a picture of what is needed and what must be avoided. Attitude is the core of interpersonal skill.


There is significant talk about body language and synchronization at the subliminal level. Boothman states "When you meet someone new, immediately point your heart warmly at that person's heart. ". Such gestures, he claims are universal and cross-cultural. He adds, "There is magic in this.". He explicitly calls out on closed body language and gives examples of what not to do.
He cites Albert Mehrabian, professor at UCLA, who has studied communication in detail. His studies suggest that 55% of what we respond to takes place visually; 38% of what we respond to is the sound; and 7% is the content. The author suggests that we synchronize our attitudes,body language (gestures, posture, gesticulations, movement, tilts, nods, expressions, breathing and rhythms), and voice (tone, volume, speed, pitch, rhythm, words).

Boothman declares two types of communication methods, one that opens up the conversation (through open-ended questions) and the other, that closes the conversation (questions that ask for a yes/no response). The author encourages questions that begin with "who, what, when, why, where, how" compared to "did you, are you , have you".
A "location/occasion" conversation methodology is recommended to break the ice. It is even better to use sensory specific words like "See, Tell, Feel" in a conversation. The author offers situational advice for regular day-to-day scenarios. The strongest point the author makes about communication is that most people do not know what they want out of a communication. It is of paramount importance that you know what you want before you open your mouth. If you do not want anything, make sure the other person knows and ensure that you are not wasting any time theirs or yours.
Boothman explains nicely the difference between "active" listening and "parrot phrasing" by providing excellent examples. All facets of communication are touched upon, at one point in the book Boothman explains how to receive compliments and advises not to flatter, "cheap flattery, tired cliches, and patronizing remarks reek of insincerity & can be insulting".

What makes this book different from other books is how Boothman classifies people by their preferred senses. He claims that there are three type of people: Visuals (55%), Auditories(15%) & Kinesthetics (30%). The author claims that it is more effective to select words in a conversation depending on which type of person you are talking with. The book offers techniques to determine the type of person. There is a good description of the type of eye-movement to expect when a person is visualizing, re-hearing, or re-feeling to retrieve information. A self-test is also offered in the form a questionnaire that determines your favorite sense. From a communication perspective, Boothman says to use metaphors, he claims that it appeals to all types because metaphors exercise all senses.

This book concludes easily by bringing all the four major components together. It ends with food for thought. The author urges his readers to get their imagination under control and install some Really Useful Assumptions. Assume rapport and trust, assume likability, assume synchronicity, assume forgiveness, assume impact, assume positivity and above all assume disposition to connectivity. He reminds us that when greeting someone new use this metaphor: Open-Eye-Bean-"Hi!"-Lean.