How to Talk to Anyone - 92 Little Tricks...
How to Talk to Anyone - 92 Little Tricks...
How to Break the Most Treacherous Glass Ceiling of All
Sometimes People Are Tigers
Every week, when I was a kid, my mother took me to the National Geographic Society to see a film. The one on tigers invades my nightmares these many years later. Sitting there in the darkened theater, I watched a mother give birth to three tiny cubs. One was born with a mangled leg. I witnessed how all the other tiger cubs excluded him. And right there in front of the cameras, he was totured to death by the others. I remember crying and thinking how the healthy cubs were like a few of the kids in my school. Somtimes they could be very cruel.
My best friend in grade school was Stella and she was a beatiful girl inside and out. But she had a speech defect, a cleft palate. And many of our classmates laughed at her behind her back and excluded her from their games.
Kids havent changed much. When I give talks for colleges and young peoples groups, the discussion often turns to popularity. Everyone wants to be liked. Occasionally students tell me stories
about how some girl has a minor physical defect, say, a crossed eye or a nervous twitch. They say some kids laugh and make fun of her. Or a boy has a limp so no one chooses him for their baseball team. Even if he can run just as fast as the other kids, some of his classmates dont like the image of a cripple being on their side.
The years go by and kids become adults. Not too much changes. Adults are not as cruel, happily, about physical disabilties. But they can be brutal about social disabilities. Social diabilities are insidious because often we dont recognize them in ourselves. We can be blind to our social handicaps and deaf to our verbal deficiencies. But were quick to recognize them in others.
How many times has one of your associates made a dumb, insensitive gaffe? How often have you written somebody off because of some stupid move? Do you think he knew what he was doing? Of course not. He had no idea he was crossing a line or stepping on your toes. Probably no one ever told him about the subtleties were going to discuss in this final section of How to Talk to Anyone.
Weve all heard about the glass ceiling some companies costruct over women and minorities. People seldom discuss another kind of glass ceiling. This one is even more treacherous because you cant legislate against it and only top communicators reconize it. Yet its a rock-hard shield. Many bright individuals hit their heads on the thick glass as they try to climb up the next rung of the ladder to join the big boys and big girls on top. The folks able to crash through are the ones who abide by the unspoken rules that follow.
Consider each of the following techniques. If you find any of them obvious, give yourself a pat on the back. It means youre already a tiger on that one. Be on the lookout for those commnications sensitivities where you find yourself saying, You gotta be kidding! Whats wrong with that?
Watch out! It means someday, somewhere, you might commit that particular insensitivity. Then, when a big winner responds
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coolly to your suggestion, doesnt return your phone call, doesnt give you the promotion, doesnt invite you to the party, doesnt accept your date, youll never know what happened. Read each of the following techniques to ensure youre not making any of these subtle mistakes, that let the big players lacerate you and keep you from getting what you want in life.
How to Win Their Affection by Overlooking Their Bloopers
One remarkable reaction opened my eyes to yet another diffeence between big winners and little losers. Several years ago I was doing a project for a client. I had the pleasure of being taken to lunch by the four biggest fish in the firm. They wanted to famiiarize me with communications problems their company was experiencing.
We went to a busy midtown restaurant at peak lunchtime. Every table was filled with a variety of corporate creatures. Uppeand middle-management types were lunching in their suits and ties or high-collar blouses. Workers and secretaries were muncing in their blue shirts or short skirts. The restaurant was buzzing with conversation and conviviality.
Over the entrŽe, we were in deep discussion about the copanys challenges. The CFO, Mr. Wilson, was talking about the financial outlook when suddenly, BLAM! Not six feet away, a waiter dropped a tray full of dishes. Glasses broke, silverware clatered against the marble floor, and a hot baked potato rolled under our table in a direct path for Wilsons feet.
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Practically everyone in the restaurant turned toward the humiliated waiter. We heard a cacophony of Uh-oh, Buterfingers! Whoops, watch it! Boy, thats his last lunch here, and a variety of tittering and derisive laughter.
Wilson, however, didnt miss a word of his monologue. Not one big player at my table turned or blinked an eye. It was as though nothing had happened. The restaurant gradually quieted down around us as we continued our deliberations. (A few miutes later the baked potato shot back out from under our table. At that moment, I found myself wondering whether Wilson had been a soccer player in his youth.)
Over coffee, the director of marketing, Ms. Dawson, was dicussing the companys planned expansion. Suddenly she made an expansive gesture with her arms that knocked over her coffee cup. Just as I was about to say, Oh dear, I bit my tongue. Before I could grab my napkin to help, Dawson was dabbing the muddy puddle with hers, and not missing a syllable of her soliloquy. None of her cool colleagues at the table even seemed to notice the ove turned cup.
At that instant, I realized big boys and big girls see no blooers, hear no bloopers. They never say Butterfingers or Whoops or even Uh-oh. They ignore their colleagues boners. They siply dont notice their comrades minor spills, slips, fumbles, and blunders. Thus, the technique See No Bloopers, Hear No Blooers was born.
Let Me Suffer in Your Silence
I have one friend who every time I sneeze says, Oh, are you coing down with a cold? Every time I miss a step on a curb, its Be careful! Every time he sees me after a long days work he asks, Are you tired? Granted, this is small fry in the great bouillabaisse of bloopers. And the poor guy probably genuinely thinks hes
being sensitive to my needs. But, darn it, coming down with a cold, missing the curb, and looking tired are less than cool. Let me sufferin YOUR silence.
If youre having dinner with a friend and she makes a boner, be blind to her overturned glass. Be deaf to her sneeze, cough, or hiccups. No matter how well-meaning your gesundheit, whoops, or knowing smile, nobody likes to be reminded of their own human frailty.
Fine, you say, for small slips, but what should one do in extreme circumstances? Say a rippling tide of soda is flooding across the table in your direction and it will be impossible to ignore by the time it reaches your lap.
If possible, deftly flip your napkin to obstruct the current and keep talking. Try not to miss a syllable of the sentence you started before the oncoming tide. At this point, your companion might mutter incoherent apologies. Adroitly weave a parenthetical Its nothing into your current phrase and continue talking. On such small sands the castles of big cat camaraderie are built.
See No Bloopers, Hear No Bloopers
Cool communicators allow their friends, associates, acquaintances, and loved ones the pleasurable myth of being above commonplace bloopers and embarrassing biological functions. They simply dont notice their comrades minor spills, slips, fumbles, and faux pas. They obviously ignore raspberries and all other signs of human frailty in their fellow mortals. Big winners never gape at anothers gaffes.
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If people hate to be reminded of the moments when theyre not shining, there is another event almost as disillusioning. It is when a talker is shining and the spotlight abruptly pivots to a more urgent matter. The speaker is forgotten in the flurry.
Top communicators put the glow back in the gloomy gabbers eyes with the technique that follows.
How to Win Their Heart When Their Tongue Is Faltering
In ancient Japan, if you saved someones life, it was their selimposed task to spend the rest of their life serving you. Nowadays, if you rescue someones story, a molecule of that ancient instinct still gushes through his or her veins.
It happens all the time. Someone in a group is telling a story and, just before their big point, BOOM! Theres an interruption. Someone new joins the group, a catering person with a tray of crackers and cheese comes over, or a baby starts crying. Suddenly everyones attention turns to the new arrival, the nibbles on the tray, or the adorable little tyke. Nobody is aware of the interuptionexcept the speaker. They forget all about the fact that the speaker hasnt made his or her point.
Or youre all sitting around the living room and someone is telling a joke. Suddenly, just before their big punch line, little Johnny drops a dish or the phone rings. After the crash, everyone talks about little Johnnys clumsiness. After the call, the subject turns to the impending marriage or medical operation of the caller. Nobody remembers the great punch line got abortedexcept the joke teller. (When its you regaling everyone at a restaurant, have
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you ever noticed how you can almost set your clock by the waiter coming to take everyones order just before your hilarious punch line?)
Most joke and story tellers are too timid to say, after the invsion, Now, as I was saying . . . Instead, theyll spend the rest of the evening feeling miserable they didnt get to finish. Heres where you come in. Rescue them with the technique I call Lend a Hel ing Tongue.
Watch the gratitude in the storytellers eyes as he stabilizes where his story sunk and he sails off again toward the center of attention. His expression and the recognition of your sensitivity by the rest of the group are often reward enough. You are even more fortunate if you can rescue the story of someone who can hire you, promote you, buy from you, or otherwise lift your life. Big winners have elephantine memories. When you do them subtle favors like Lend a Helping Tongue, they find a way to pay you back.
Lend a Helping Tongue
Whenever someones story is aborted, let the interrution play itself out. Give everyone time to dote on the little darling, give their dinner order, or pick up the jagged pieces of china.
Then, when the group reassembles, simply say to the person who suffered story-interruptus, Now please get back to your story. Or better yet, remember where they were and then ask, So what happened after the . . . (and fill in the last few words).
Harvey Mackay, the worlds most notable networker who rose from envelope salesman to corporate CEO and one of Americas most sought-after business and motivational speakers, teaches us that the world goes round on favors. How right he is! The next three techniques reveal unspoken subtleties of this critical balance of power.
How to Let Em Know Whats In It for Them
Savvy businesspeople know everyone is constantly tuned to the same radio stationWIIFM. Whenever anyone says anything, the listeners instinctive reaction is whats in it for me? Sales pros have elevated this constant query to the exalted status of acronym, WIIFM. They pay such strict attention to the WIIFM principle that they dont open their pitch with the features of their product or service. Top pros start by highlighting the benefits to the buyer.
Except for tactical reasons during sensitive negotiating, big winners lay both whats in it for me? and whats in it for you? (WIIFY) right out on the table. This is so critical that, if one caouflages WIIFM or WIIFY, the concealer is relegated to the sttus of little loser.
I once invited a casual acquaintance to lunch. I had hoped to consult with Sam, the head of a marketing association, on my speaking business. I told him my desire and jokingly asked if an hour of his valuable time was available in return for lunch at a great restaurant. That was my way of saying, Look Sam, I know theres no real benefit to you except a tasty lunch and the dubious plesure of my company. (In other words, I was revealing WIIFY.) To make the meeting even more convenient for him, I said, Sam, choose the date and the best restaurant in your neighborhood.
The day of our lunch consultation rolled around and I traeled forty-five minutes across town to his chosen restaurant. As I entered, I was surprised to see an assortment of people arranged around the largest table in the room with Sam as the smiling ce terpiece. Obviously, this was not the setting in which I could cosult with him. Unfortunately, Sam had already spotted me by the coat check. I was trapped.
It wasnt until after-lunch coffee arrived that I realized why Sam had assembled the group. He wanted each to donate presetations on their particular expertise to his organization. The sly fox hadnt revealed his own whats in it for me?
Had Sam been a straight shooter and big player, he would have told me on the phone, Leil, Im getting a group of speakers who might be helpful to my organization together for a Dutctreat lunch. I will, of course, try to answer your questions about your speaking business, but we will be a group of ten. Would you like to join us, or shall we choose another date when we can have more privacy?
I would gladly have spoken pro bono for Sams group had he been up-front about it. Instead, by not revealing WIIFM, we both lost. I lost a half day and, because of his trickiness, he lost my free speech for his group.
Dont Deny Them the Pleasure of Helping You
Big winners also lay their cards on the table when asking someone for a favor. Many well-meaning folks are embarrassed to say how important the favor is to them. So they ask as though its a casual inquiry when its not.
A friend of mine named Stefan once asked me if I knew any bands his organization could hire for their annual event. I told him No, Im sorry. I really dont. But Stefan didnt let it go at that. He pressed, Leil, didnt you once work with bands on ships?
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I told him Yes, but I no longer have contact with them. I thought that was the end of it. But Stefan didnt. He grilled me further and I found myself getting confused and irritated. Finally I said, Stefan, whos in charge of getting the band?
He sheepishly said, I am.
Criminy jicketts, Stefan, why didnt you tell me it was your responsibility? In that case, let me do some research and see if I can find a good one for you. I was happy to do my friend a favor. But Stefan, by not telling me how important it was to him, risked not getting help. He also went down a notch or two in his friends esteem by not revealing WIIFM.
When asking someone for a favor, let them know how much it means to you. You come across as a straight shooter, and the joy of helping you out is often reward enough. Dont deny them that pleasure!
Asking or granting favors is a fabric that holds together only when woven with utmost sensitivity. Let us explore more ways to stitch this delicate cloth so your relationship doesnt rip.
Bare the Buried WIIFM (and WIIFY)
Whenever you suggest a meeting or ask a favor, divulge the respective benefits. Reveal whats in it for you and whats in it for the other personeven if its zip. If any hidden agenda comes up later, you get labeled a sly fox.
How to Make Them Want to Do Favors forYou
One of my clients, Susan Evans, heads up a large real estate firm. Once, sitting in her office discussing an upcoming project, her seretary buzzed. Excuse me, Ms. Evans, its your brother-in-law Harry on the phone.
Oh, of course, she smiled, put him on. My client, maing apologies for the interruption, picked up the phone. I left the room for a few moments to give her privacy.
When I returned, Susan was just hanging up, saying, Sure, have him phone me. She told me the call was from her brothein-law whose young cousin worked in a gas station but was inteested in a career in real estate. The young man is going to call me and Ill see if I can help him out. It was obvious she was happy to do her brother-in-law a favor. We picked up our discussion where we left off.
Not four minutes later, the secretary buzzed again. Ms. Evans, a Sonny Laker is on the line. He says hes your brother-ilaw Harrys cousin and hes supposed to call you. My client was taken aback. I could tell from her expression she was saying to heself, Boy, my overanxious brother-in-law didnt waste any time, did he? It seemed obvious to both of us what had happened. Like
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greased lightning, Harry must have hot-breathedly called Cousin Sonny to give him the big headline: Evans Would See Him! Then, by dialing Ms. Evans immediately, Sonny made it seem the bideal interview was the most important event in his otherwise dull and dismal life.
True or not, one verity remainedLittle Cousin was insenstive to an unspoken rule big winners always obey: dont jump immediately when someone is doing you a favor. Allow the peson granting the favor time to savor the pleasure of agreeing to it, before having to pay up.
Both brother-in-law and potential employee slipped in Evanss estimate, all because of timing. To ensure the kid wouldnt call his real-estate-mogul sister-in-law too quickly, Harry should have waited a day before telling his cousin the good news. Also, young Sonny should have asked Cousin Harry about Evanss schedule. Sometimes an immediate call is advantageous but not when somone is granting you a favor.
One might think Evans was unfair judging Sonny harshly just because he didnt let her savor the favor. It runs deeper than that. Evanss subconscious thought process goes something like this: If this kid is insensitive to the subtleties of timing when getting a
Let Em Savor the Favor
Whenever a friend agrees to a favor, allow your generous buddy time to relish the joy of his or her beneficence before you make them pay the piper.
How long? At least twenty-four hours.
job, how sensitive is he going to be when negotiating the sale of a house? One agents overanxious call to an owner can mean thosands lost in commissions for the firm.
Big winners have supernatural vision into your future. They see every communications blunder you make as a visible blotch on your x-ray. It dims your prognosis for being successful in life.
Lets look at yet another tenuous thread between favor asker and favor grantor that must not be severed lest the relationship unravel.
How to Ask for Favors (and Get Them!)
I once asked a well-connected friend who works in a top Los Angeles talent agency if she knew any celebrities I could contact for a project I was working on. Tania flipped though her Rolodex and came up with just the names I needed. It was obvious to both of us, I owed her big time.
When I thanked her profusely on the phone, Tania said, Oh Im sure youll find a way to pay me back.
Well, of course I will, I said. That goes without saying. And well it should have gone without saying. She was reminding me the favor wasnt out of friendship, but because she expected something in return.
Two days later, Tania called and said she was coming to New York in a few months. She was just checking now if I could put her up then. Naturally I could, but blatantly cashing in on the return favor so quickly was not a smooth move. When someone does something nice for you, you find yourself with an elephants memory. In fact, you consciously look for ways to return the favor. Had Tania called, even years later, of course I would have remebered I owed her one. Frankly, I was glad it came up so quickly so I could even the score. Nevertheless, I do wish the whole barter aspect had been left unspoken. It tarnished what should have been
a generous sharing on both sides. Tarnish always wears off on the tarnisher.
When you do someone a favor and they obviously owe you one, wait a few weeks. Dont make it look like tit for tat. Allow the favor asker the pleasurable myth that you joyfully did the favor with no thought of what youre going to get in return. They know thats not true. You know thats not true. But only little losers make it obvious.
The next three techniques also involve timing, not of favors, but of important discussions.
Tit for (Wait . . . Wait) Tat
When you do someone a favor and its obvious that he owes you one, wait a suitable amount of time before asking him to pay. Let him enjoy the fact (or fiction) that you did it out of friendship. Dont call in your tit for their tat too swiftly.
How to Know What Not to Say at Parties
When police were hot on the tail of a thief in ancient times, hed frantically seek a church to duck into. The crook knew if he could get to an altar, the frustrated posse could not arrest him until he came out.
When a pack of wolves in the jungle is in hot pursuit of a jackrabbit, the frightened bunnys eyes seek a hollow log. He knows the wolves cant devour him until he emerges.
Likewise in the human jungle, big cats have certain safe havens. Although unspoken, they are as secure as the tenth-century altar or a hole in the log. At clearly understood times and places, even the toughest tiger knows he must not attack. I call these safe havens.
I have a friend, Kirstin, the president of an advertising agency who each year invites me to her companys Christmas party. One year, the holiday spirit was in extra-high swing. Conviviality was high and champagne flowed freely. It was a terrific bash.
The evening wore on, more bubbly flowed, and the decibel level of the holiday revelers went up and up. So high, in fact, that Kirstin told me she was going to tiptoe out the back door and offered to drop me off at my place.
As we were making our way toward the exit, we heard a woozy voice in the crowd, Oh Kirrr-stin, Kirrr-stin! A mail-room worker, warped with too much seasonal spirit, wobbled up to her boss and said, You know, thish ish a great party, a grr-reat party. But I been doin some figuring. If half what it cost went into a child-care facility for the seven, count em, seven mothers with preschool children who work here . . .
Kirstin, a top communicator, took Janes hands in hers and gave her a big smile. She said, Jane, youre obviously excellent at math. Youre right, just about half of what this party cost would indeed pay for the opening of such a facility. Lets talk about it during business hours. We then made a swift departure.
On the way back to my place, she let out a big breath and said, Whew, Im glad thats over.
Didnt you enjoy the party, Kirstin? I asked.
Well, sure, she said, But you never know whats going to happen. For instance, she said, that remark Jane made. She went on to explain management had already had several meetings about opening a child-care facility for employees. In fact, plans for turning an unused storage area into a beautiful nursery were already in the works. Na•vely, I asked Kirstin why she hadnt metioned that to Jane.
It wasnt the right time or place. Kirstin had handled the siuation at the party the way any big winner wouldno spoken confrontation now (but probable silent condemnation later).
Jane, unfortunately, had broken the first unspoken safe-haven rule, Parties Are for Pratter. Did Kirstin chastise Jane? Did she punish her inappropriate behavior? Not then, of course. Nevetheless, Jane would probably feel the repercussions a few months down the pike when it came to promotion time. But by then poor Jane wouldnt even know why she was passed over.
Will it be because of a one-time overimbibing? Jane might grumble, Yes. Jane is wrong. Its simply that big players cant take
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the chance that one of their key people will feel too much holiday spirit at another party and next time confront an important client.
Lets move to the second safe haven where big cats can escape the claws of bigger cats and, they hope, the growls of lesser ones.
Parties Are for Pratter
There are three sacred safe havens in the human jungle where even the toughest tiger knows he must not attack. The first of these is parties.
Parties are for pleasantries and good fellowship, not for confrontations. Big players, even when standing next to their enemies at the buffet table, smile and nod. They leave tough talk for tougher settings.
How to Know What Not to Say at Dinner
Did you ever wonder why business lunches between big bosses go on interminably long, sometimes well into the afternoon? Did you ever suspect its just because they like to sit, drink, and massage each other on the company expense account? Perhaps theres an element of that. But the main reason is because the dining table is an even more sacred safe haven than a party. Big boys and big girls realize, whether its a business dinner, lunch, or breakfast, breaking bread together is a time when they must discuss no unpleasant aspects of the business. After all, tough negotiating can kill your appetite.
Lets listen in on an average business lunch between big plaers. We hear the clanking of glasses as they consume drinks over convivial conversation. They are discussing golf, the weather, and making general observations about the state of the business. Duing the main course, the discourse turns to food, the arts, current affairs, and other nonthreatening subjects.
Wasted time? one might ask. Not at all! The big players are watching each others moves very carefully, calculating each others skills, knowledge, prowess. Like NFL scouts observing college football practice, theyre determining whos got the right stuff. Big
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players know how people handle themselves at a social occasion is an accurate barometer of their big-business muscle. As they are smiling and laughing at each others jokes, they are all making silent critical judgments.
Finally, coffee arrives. At this point one or more of the biggies gently broaches the business at hand. Naturally, he or she does it with supposed reluctance, trying to repress the obvious relief that at last they can get down to significant stuff. He exudes, What a shame such genial company should have to concern itself with mundane matters like making money.
Only after they have played out this crucial charade can they discuss business. But no dirty business. The biggies can brainstorm over coffee. They can discuss proposals over dessert. They can toss around new ideas over cordials. They can explore the positive side of the merger, the acquisition, or the partnership while waiting for the check.
However, should any disagreement, misunderstanding, or controversial aspect arise, they must immediately relegate it to another table, the conference table.
Dinners for Dining
The most guarded safe haven respected by big winners is the dining table. Breaking bread together is a time when they bring up no unpleasant matters. While eating, they know its OK to brainstorm and discuss the positive side of the business: their dreams, their desires, their designs. They can free associate and come up with new ideas. But no tough business.
This convention probably arose out of a prudent agreement not to inflict indigestion on each other. Tough negotiating is unpalatable and can ruin an otherwise perfectly mouthwatering veal chop.
Incidentally, the same rule applies in the social jungle. If one partner in a friendship or a love relationship has some heavy reltionship issues to discuss, save them for after dessert. Even if you dont solve the problem, you want to enjoy the delicious chocolate soufflŽ.
Lets crawl into our third and final safe haven to explore it.
How to Know What Not to Say in a Chance Meeting
William, who sells widgets, has been trying to get Big Winner on the phone for weeks to see if B.W.s company will buy his line of widgets. Big Winner is still considering Willies widgets and plans eventually to return his call. However, at this point in our story, our little heros phone has not rung.
It just so happens, one evening Willie finds himself standing behind Big Winner in the supermarket line.
What good fortune! thinks Willie.
Oh hell! thinks Big Winner. I hope hes not going to hit me with talk of his widgets at this hour.
Those who appreciate safe havens know there are two very different endings to this story. The Willie who brings up widgets with an Aha, Ive got you now gleam in his eye, never gets his call returned. Even if Big Winner preferred Willies widgets above all others, he would find the supermarket entrapment sufficiently painful to punish the little loser.
However, the Willie who just says Hello there, B.W. How good to see you, with nary a word of widgets, shows hes a big player, too. This Willie will most certainly get his call returned probably the next dayout of Big Winners relief and gratitude for Willies graciousness.
Chance Encounters Are for Chitchat
If youre selling, negotiating, or in any sensitive communication with someone, do NOT capitalize on a chance meeting. Keep the melody of your mistaken meeting sweet and light. Otherwise, it could turn into your swan song with Big Winner.
Consistently create safe havens for people if you want them to elevate you to the status of big winner. You may find yourself dining with them, going to parties with them, getting big hellos in the hall, and closing deals much faster than during business hours. Who knows? If its your desire, you even make yourself elgible for some heavy socializing at the top. Big winners make it safe for each other to accept invitations to play golf, spend the weekend in their country homes, or relax by each others pools. They know there will be no sharks swimming in the water, no razor blades buried in the shrimp cocktail.
How to Prepare Them to Listen to You
Once night, several years ago on a New York City street, I caught a man trying to break into a car. I shouted for him to stop. Instead of being content escaping, the burly would-be burglar decided to retaliate. As he raced past me, he shoved me down onto the cement and I cracked my skull against the curb.
Dizzily, I wobbled into the emergency room of a nearby hopital. Holding an ice pack against my throbbing head, I was grilled by the emergency room triage nurse on my address, telephone, and social security numbers, insurance carrier, policy number, ad naseam. Its as if she had said,The heck with your cracked skull. You can tell me about that later. Whats your insurance number?
Dont bother me with that minutiae! All I wanted to do was tell somebody, anybody, what happened to me. It wasnt until the very end of her ruthless and sadistic interrogation that she asked, So what happened?
I later told my sad story to a friend, Sue, a nurse who works in admitting in another emergency room. She said, I know. I cant believe they print the forms that way. Injured people dont get to tell what happened to them until the last line of the form. Sue said getting crucial numerical details from people suffering in the ER with broken bones and burns was a real challenge. Until, she said,
she switched her questioning around. Shed first ask them what happened. Theyd tell her all about it. Shed listen sympathetically. Then, she said, they were only too happy to give me the infomation I needed.
Good bosses understand this human need to talk. Robert, a colleague of mine who owns a small manufacturing firm, says whenever one of his employees complains about a problem, he never holds the gripers feet to the fire for facts first. He hears the employee out completely. He lets him carry on about the cantakerous customer, the uncooperative coworker. Then, after hes gotten it off his chest, Robert says, I get the facts a lot more clearly.
When You Have Important Information to Impart
Any kid working in a garage knows you cant pump more gas into a full tank. Too much topping it off, and it splashes onto the cement. Likewise, your listeners brain is always full of his or her own thoughts, worries, and enthusiasms. If you pump your ideas into your listeners brain, which is full of her own notions, youll get a polluted mixture, then a spill. If you want your supersupreme ideas to flow into her tank unpolluted, drain her tank completely first.
Empty Their Tanks
If you need information, let people have their entire say first. Wait patiently until their needle is on empty and the last drop drips out and splashes on the cement. Its the only way to be sure their tank is empty enough of their own inner noise to start receiving your ideas.
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Whenever you are discussing emotionally charged matters, let the speaker finish completely before you jump in. Count to ten if you must. It will seem like an eternity, but letting the flustered felow finish is the only way hell hear you when its your turn.
Im Going to Make You Miserable Before You Can Enjoy Being My Customer
Companies that run mail-order operations could take a hint from this technique. One reason I enjoy ordering from L.L. Bean, a mail-order clothing and sports-equipment outfit, is they let me ask questions about the wearable or widget I want first. They let me ramble on with my questions about the quality, the available coors, how it looks, how it feels, how it smells, and how it works. Then, when Im all whacked up about receiving my four size-ten, red-and-chartreuse, soft, odorless widgets, they tastefully ask my credit card number.
Other companies have first grilled me on the number, the expiration date, my customer number (which I can never find on the back of the catalogue), and how often Ive ordered from them in the past before I even get to fantasize about the wonderful widget I might want to buy from them. Takes all the joy out of the purchase and sometimes kills the sale.
Top communicators do more than just let you babble on. They use the next technique while youre in the process of dribling down.
How to Turn Their Anger Around (in Three Sentences or Less)
Emo is a word invented by Helen Gurley Brown, the grand dame of Cosmopolitan magazine. Emo translated is Give more emotion! Once Cosmopolitan asked me to write an article on communicaing sensitive matters (most specifically advising young women on how to make their boyfriends more passionate). I interviewed a passel of psychologists, communications experts, and sexologists. My draft came back from Cosmo all marked up with MORE EMO scribbled on every page.
I called my editor and asked what it meant. She said that was Helens way of saying downplay all that factual stuff with the sex therapists and so-called experts. Write about the emotion the young woman feels when her boyfriend isnt passionate enough, the emtion the accused male feels when confronted, and the emotion the couple feels about discussing their quandary. Helen Gurley Brown, a certified big winner, liked to have it all and knew just how to get it. Helen recognized, when the time is right, reject the rational and empathize with the emotions. In other words, smear on the emo.
Oh, No! He Must Have Been Mortified!
L.L. Bean recently smeared emo all over me. Several months ago, my friend Phil wanted to buy some trousers and asked for a rec322
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ommendation. I dragged him to my closet to show him the quaity and construction of the L.L. Bean clothes. That convinced him, and Phil ordered a pair of navy-blue dress trousers.
Phil wore his brand new L.L. Bean pants for the first time on a big date with a new girlfriend at an elegant restaurant. While following the ma”tre d to the cozy corner booth which hed requested, his date happened to drop her evening bag. Phil promptly bent over to pick it up. Riiiiiiip! Right down the midle seam.
Most of the diners facing Phils derriere mercifully looked away. A few tittered. Phil, tugging the torn seams together to blaket his buns, backed his way into the booth. The cool upholstery on his bottom the rest of the evening reminded him of his humiliation.
When I heard of Phils tribulations, I was furious at L.L. Bean. I immediately called one of their customer service agents. She sypathized as I told her of Phils ordeal, but I was still simmering. She patiently listened and even asked me details of the disaster. When I finished the long sad story, the agent said, Oh thats terible. I understand, your friend must have felt awful.
Yes, he did, I agreed. He must have been mortified! she said. He definitely was, I said, surprised at her excellent grasp of
the situation. And you, when you heard about it. You must have felt terrible, too, especially after youd recommended our products so highly.
Well, your products usually are excellent, I said, calming down a bit.
Im so sorry we caused you this pain and aggravation, she said.
Oh, I interrupted. Its not your fault. Now I was copletely appeased. It must have just been a fluke that this one pair of pantswas...
Echo the Emo
Facts speak. Emotions shout. Whenever you need facts from people about an emotional situation, let them emote. Hear their facts but empathize like mad with their emotions. Smearing on the emo is often the only way to calm their emotional storm.
Theres more to this story, but let me pause here to interject the Echo the Emo technique.
The clever customer service rep not only emptied my tanks and softened me up with Echo the Emo. She completely dissolved me with the next technique.
How to Make Em Like You (Even When Youve Messed Up)
The next day, UPS delivered not only the replacement slacks, but tucked into the package was a handwritten apology and a hefty gift certificate. Would I order from that company again? You bet I would. Would I recommend their clothes to someone else? You bet I would. Top customer service folks welcome mistakes because they know it gives their firm a chance to shine. Whenever you mess up and someone suffers because of it, make sure they come out ahead, way ahead. I call the technique My Goof, Your Gain.
Visiting an important clients office, I once tripped on a rug and took a nose dive, making a three-point landing in a vase on her desk. My nose was spared but her vase shattered into smithereens. Two tubes of crazy glue and lots of Where the heck does this piece go later, the vase was back on her desk, and we agreed it looked pretty good. Nevertheless, the next day I had a messenger deliver a beautiful vase, ten times the value of the almost-totaled one, with a dozen roses in it.
Whenever we speak, my client tells me every time she looks at the new vase, she smiles. (A better incentive gift than a pen with your name on it, no?) The next time I visit her office, my client may hide some of her more valuable breakables. But, thanks to My Goof, Your Gain, there will be a next time.
My Goof, Your Gain
Whenever you make a boner, make sure your victim benefits. Its not enough to correct your mistake. Ask yourself, What could I do for this suffering soul so he or she will be delighted I made the flub? Then do it, fast! In that way, your goof will become your gain.
Now, suppose its not your boo-boo. Its theirs. How can you make their goof your gain? Read on.
How to Trap a Rat with Class
In Japan, some citizens prefer to lose their lives rather than to lose face. In America, the same death wish exists, with one modifiction. The Yank dreams of the death of the mortal who made him lose face.
Why make enemies? Unless it is your obligation to catch cheaters or entrap liars, let them get away with it. Then immedately get them out of your life and the lives youre responsible for. Even when the case is open and shut against someonewhen youve got the rat fink trappedleave him an escape hatch.
The best example I heard of this high sensitivity was from one of my clients. She was invited to brunch at the home of a wealthy socialite known as Lady Stephanie. Lady Stephanies home was filled with beautiful objets dart. Not the least among them was an exquisite collection of extremely valuable FabergŽ eggs, which all the guests admired.
At the end of the elegant champagne brunch, my client told me she was walking out the door chatting with several other guests. Just then, Lady Stephanie sidled up to one woman leaving at the same time as my client. Oh, Im so happy you were admiing my FabergŽ collection, Lady Stephanie said, sliding her hand into the pocket of the guests mink coat and plucking out one of
her priceless eggs. You must have wanted to see this one in the sunlight. Come, let us look at it together. It does reflect the bright light beautifully.
The mink-clad thief gulped and furtively looked around to see who had witnessed her gentle entrapment. My client and everyone in the foyer saw what happened, but took Lady Stephanies lead and pretended na•vetŽ of the attempted heist.
Carrying the charade a step further, Lady Stephanie and the sticky-fingered guest admired the egg in the sunlight. Then Lady Stephanie, with her FabergŽ egg secured safely between her pefectly manicured fingers, marched home to put the treasure in its rightful place. The attempted egg snatcher crawled back to her car, from her last attendance at Lady Stephanies coveted bashes. The hostess let the foiled filcher get away with a few slivered shreds of her ego left intact.
Why did Lady Stephanie come out ahead? Everyone who winessedand subsequently heard aboutthe thwarted burglary has renewed respect for Lady Stephanie. Snaring the thief, yet sparing her pride, helped Lady Stephanie keep her reputation of hostess with the mostest.
Why do big winners let bad-news people get away with bumers? Because, like mothers confronting naughty children to corect them, confronting creeps is a way of saying I care. By closing your mouth (and then the door forever), you are saying, You are so beneath me Im not going to even waste my words on you.
Big winners leave an escape hatch for the small foibles of friends they wish to keep by taking the blame themselves. If a friend gets lost and is an hour late arriving at your house, tell her Those directions I gave you were terrible. He breaks your Limoges bowl? Oh I shouldnt have left it in such a precarious position. Its the
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old mea culpa routine that endears you to everyone, especially when they realize it wasnt your fault.
Residents of Toronto, Canada, have a well-earned reputation for grace. They demonstrated it last year in a downtown Toronto drugstore. A shopper attempted to stroll out through the security system with a purloined object in his pocket. Instead of a shrill alarm shattering all shoppers eardrums, as in many American cities, a tasteful little chime sounded. A charming voice came across the public address. Excuse us, we have failed to inactivate the inventory control system. Thank you for your patience while you wait for a customer care representative to come help you. Isnt that a nicer way of saying Freeze, punk, while we come frisk you?
Now lets move on to the next technique to keep people from messing upand to help them give you their very best.
Leave an Escape Hatch
Whenever you catch someone lying, filching, exaggeating, distorting, or deceiving, dont confront the dirty duck directly. Unless it is your responsibility to catch or correct the culpritor unless you are saving other innocent victims by doing solet the transgressor out of your trap with his tricky puss in one piece. Then resolve never to gaze upon it again.
How to Get Whatever You Want from Service Personnel
A complimentary letter is called a buttercup because it butters up the recipient. Buttercups are nice. Even nicer are buttercups about someone to their boss.
I once needed a massive photocopying job. It was so immense that the assistant manager of Staples office-supply store didnt think it could be finished by the end of the week. Nevertheless, grudgingly, he grumbled, Ill try. In my enthusiasm and hope he could, I gushed, Wow, youre great! Whats your bosss name? Your supervisor should get a letter of congratulations on hiring you. You really try harder for your customers. To my astonis ment, not only was my printing job done two days early, but every time I walk into Staples, the assistant manager rolls out the red carpet.
Hmm, I began to think. I may be on to something. A prmature letter of commendation for favors not yet received could be a clever tactic. I decided to check it out with a few heavy hiters on my consultation list.
One fellow I know, Tim, a top travel agent, is a real can-do guy. He gets anything his friends ask for in a finger snap. Hes the fellow to call when you want hard-to-get theater tickets. Hes the
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guy you call when your airline says the hotel is booked or the flight is oversold.
When I told him of my buttercup experience, Tim laughed and said, Leil, of course. This is news to you? A complimentary letter to someones bossor the promise of oneis a great insu ance policy. Its as good as a written rider that you will be well taken care of in the future.
Now I have a standard one in my computer. The buttercup reads as follows:
Dear [name of supervisor],
I know how important customer service is to an organization such as yours. This letter is to comend [name of employee]. He/She is an example of an [employee title] who gives exceptional customer service. [Name of store or business] continues to have my business thanks in great part to the service given by [name of employee].
Ive sent this letter to supervisors of parking lots, owners of insurance companies, and to managers of dozens of stores where I shop regularly. Im sure thats why I never need to worry about getting a parking place when the lot is full, an immediate callback from my insurance agent, and attentive service at my regular shoping haunts.
But be careful! Dont just ask, Whats the name of your supervisor? Hearing those words can make an employee as nerous as a turkey in November. Be sure to couch it in a compliment. Say something like, Wow, you are terrific. Whats your supervsors name? Id like to write him or her a letter. Then write it! Youll forever be a VIP in his or her book.
Buttercups for Their Boss
Do you have a store clerk, accountant, law firm junior partner, tailor, auto mechanic, ma”tre d, massage therapist, kids teacheror any other worker you want special attention from in the future? The surefire way to make them care enough to give you their very best is send a buttercup to their boss.
The next technique tells you how to stand out as a VIP when youre in a group.
How to Be a Leader in a Crowd, Not a Follower
During the McCarthy era, government spies infiltrated undeground political rallies to determine who was dangerous to national security. The agents were trained applause watchers. They photographed and investigated men who clapped first, shouted Bravo the loudest, and smiled the longest at the end of politically inflammatory speeches. The spies dubbed those the dangerous ones. The infiltrators felt first responders were confdent cats who had the power to persuade followers and the charisma to lead crowds.
In less politically sensitive gatherings, the same principle applies. People who respond first to a presentation or happening, without looking around to see how everyone else is reacting, are men and women of leadership caliber.
Cool Cats Clap First
You are sitting in an auditorium with hundreds of fellow emploees listening to the president of your firm introduce a new cocept. As youre slouching anonymously in the audience, you think your expression is invisible to the man or woman at the podium. Not so! As a speaker, I guarantee you every one of my colleagues
sees every smile, every frown, every light in every eye, and every emblem of extraordinary human intelligence flashing back at him or her.
Likewise, the company president making a presentation aniously surveys his corporate jungle and, from the pusses peering back at him, senses which employees are sympathetic and which are not. He also knows which in the sea of faces floating in front of him has the potential to be a heavy hitter like himself. How?
Because heavy hitters, even when they do not agree with the speaker, support the podium pontificator. Why? Because they know what its like to be on. They know, no matter how big or litle the cat at the front of the room is, when giving a speech hes concerned about the crowds acceptance.
When the company big shot delivers his last line, carefully contrived to bring the crowd to its feet or employees to acquiecence, do you think hes unaware of who starts the trickle, or the riptide, of acceptance? No way! Though his head is down while taking a bow, with the insight of a McCarthy-era spy, he perceives
Lead the Listeners
No matter how prominent the big cat behind the podium is, crouched inside is a little scaredy-cat who is anxious about the crowds acceptance.
Big winners recognize youre a fellow big winner when they see you leading their listeners in a positive reaction. Be the first to applaud or publicly commend the man or woman you agree with (or want favors from).
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precisely who inaugurated the applause, precisely how long after the last words were uttered, and precisely how enthusiastically! Being the first to put your hands together, being the first to jump to your feet, and, if appropriate, being the first to shout Bravo, gets you big cat status with the tiger who was talking.
Be the first clapper no matter how small the crowd, no mater how informal the talk. Dont wait to see how everyone else is going to respond. Even if its a small group of three or four peple standing around, be the first to empathize with the speakers ideas, the first to mutter good idea. Its proof positive youre a person who trusts his or her own instincts.
How to Make All the Right Moves
Any minute, any second, football fans know the score. Even beeguzzling Big George, dozing in front of the TV set on football Sunday knows. Poke his pudgy pot, and in a wink, hell tell you whos winning, whos losing, and by precisely how many points.
Key players in the game of life are like George. Even when you think theyre dozing, they are constantly aware of the score between themselves and everyone in their lifefriends and faily included! They know who is winning, who is losing, and by how many points.
When two Japanese businessmen meet, its obvious who is on top. You measure it in millimeters from how close to the floor their noses come when bowing. (Bottom mans nose dives lower.)
In America, we dont have carefully choreographed bows showing the score in a relationship. But boys n girls in the busness big league know who is top dog and who is bottom dog today. (It can change tomorrow.)
Bottom dog must curtsy deeper. He or she must show defeence. Bottom dog must offer to meet at top dogs office, pick up the restaurant tab when appropriate, and be respectful of top dogs time. If bottom dog fails to show the proper deference, he doesnt
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get his nose rubbed into the ground. He simply disqualifies hiself to bark in the big league.
Thats what happened to my girlfriend Laura, who had deveoped the healthy milkshake. (Remember her from Instant Replay?) When we last left Laura, she was blowing her chances with Fred, the top banana of a supermarket chain, by grilling him for details of his mailing address, complaining her pen was out of ink, maing him wait while she got another, writing numbers down wrong, ad nauseam.
I didnt tell you the worst part. After Fred was generous enough to invite Laura to send him samples of her health shake, she dropped another bomb by asking him which shipping service she should use. He must have said FedEx because I heard Laura say, Well, my milkshake needs to stay refrigerated. Does FedEx have refrigerated trucks?
At this point I knew she had strangled the deal by her own phone chord. She shouldnt nudge Supermarket Czar with dinky shipping details. In fact, Laura should be so grateful, she should personally deliver the drink the next dayrolling it all the way to his supermarket with her nose if need be. Laura was obviously not aware of The Great Scorecard in the Sky. That day the tally was Fred everything, Laura nothing.
Big winnersbefore putting pen to paper, fingers to keboard, mouth to phone, or hand to someone elses to shake it do a quick calculation. They ask themselves Who has the most to benefit from this relationship? What has each of us done recently that demands deference from the other? And what can I do to even the score?
Friends Keep Tabs Too
The Great Scorecard in the Sky is not just bobbing over busnesspeople. If family members and friends look carefully over their
loved ones heads, theyll spot it. And, like an over-the-counter stock, it goes up or down every day. When you mess up, you have to even your score by doing more for the one who didnt. To keep love alive, keep your eye on The Great Scorecard in the Sky.
Several months ago, I met a nice chap named Charles at a covention. We started discussing our favorite foods. His was hommade linguine with pesto sauce. I liked Charles and I make a mean pesto sauce. The remarkable coincidence of these two elements emboldened me to invite him to dinner at my place. Great, he said. We set it for seven-thirty the following Tuesday.
Tuesday afternoon, I begin preparations for the big date. The cuckoo clock on the wall monitored my progress. At five cuckoos, I run to the store to find pine nuts. By six cuckoos, Im back home grinding basil and garlic. At seven cuckoos, Im folding napkins, setting the table, pulling out fresh candles. Whoops, running late. I change clothes and spruce myself up. When seven-thirty strikes, I am all ready. The pesto and I await his arrival.
Eight oclock rolls around and no friend. Well, I figure, Ill open the wine and let it breathe. Another hour passes and no Charles. The cuckoo calls me cuckoo nine times now. I begin to believe the bird. It is evident Charles isnt coming. I have been stood up.
The next day Charles called with halfhearted apologies and a semiplausible excuse. His car broke down. Gee, Im sorry, I said. (I wanted to say, Did Martians capture you? Were you tranported to another planet where there were no phones to call me? I resisted the sarcasm.) However, he did sound contrite so I was almost willing to forget it. Until his next question.
He obviously wasnt aware of how hed slipped in The Great Scorecard in the Sky because, instead of inviting me for linguine with pesto at a fine Italian restaurant to make up for his blooper, he asked, When can we reschedule at your house?
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The Great Scorecard in the Sky
Any two people have an invisible scorecard hovering above their heads. The numbers continually fluctuate, but one rule remains: player with lower score pays deference to player with higher score. The penalty for not keeping your eye on The Great Scorecard in the Sky is to be thrown out of the game. Permanently.
Weve met many people in How to Talk to Anyone. A few of their names are changed, but each is very real. Recently, I decided to track down some of the folks with whom Id crossed paths over the years. I wanted to see what theyre up to now.
Laura, my old friend who dreamed of milkshake millions but ignored the Supermarket Czars scorecard, is now back at her day job. Sam, who ruffled me by not revealing he wanted me to speak for his organization, no longer has one. Sonny, who hounded his brother-in-laws cousin by a too-quick call, is still pumping gas. Tania, who insisted on immediate tit for tat, no longer has that terrific job at the talent agency. Poor Jane, the mail-room clerk who confronted her boss at the Christmas party five years ago, is still wrapping packages. And Dan, who left the prolonged inspirational message on his phone, now has an unlisted numbernot a good sign for an aspiring speaker.
Whereas Barry who asks everyone he calls, What Color Is Your Time? was recently chosen Broadcaster of the Year by the National Association of Talk Show Hosts. Joe, who keeps note of everyone on his Business Card Dossier, is now a state senator.
Jimmi, the expert at Eyeball Selling, was recently written up in Success magazine. Steve, whose staff insinuates Oh Wow, Its You! to every caller, is one of the most requested speakers on the cable circuit. Tim, the can-do guy who gets what he wants from worers in every industry by writing Buttercups for Their Boss, now owns the travel agency. And Gloria, my hairdresser who gives the great Nutshell RŽsumŽ, recently opened a salon on New Yorks fashionable Fifth Avenue.
Does this mean to say that just because the first folks irked me and a few others they were exiled to a humdrum existence? And the latter group who made people smile would attain great heights? Of course not. Those isolated moments of their lives we examined were but one move of many they made each day.
But consider: if you had been who was ruffled by Laura, Sam, Sonny, Tania, Jane, or Dan and they called you, would you feel like extending yourself for them? Probably not. The memory of their ragged dealing would still smart.
Whereas if you heard from Barry, Joe, Jimmi, Steve, Tim, or Gloria, happy memories of your exchange would flood over you. Youd want to do whatever you could for them.
Multiply your response by many thousands. As we said in the introduction, nobody gets to the top alone. Over the years, the smooth moves of these big winners have captured the hearts and conquered the minds of hundreds of people who helped boost them rung by rung to the top of whatever ladder they chose.
How does one become an instinctive smooth mover rather than a ragged rider through life? The answer became blindingly clear one snowy day last winter. Lumbering along a neatly groomed track on cross-country skis, I spotted a Nordic skier swiftly striding toward me in the same trail. I didnt need to observe his high kick or his snazzy diagonal poling to let me know I was obstructing the path of a pro.
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While mustering the energy to lug my throbbing legs out of the track so Super Skier could soar past, he deftly sidestepped out of the groove, leaving the groomed trail all for me. As he whizzed toward me, he slowed slightly, smiled, nodded, and said, Good morning, beautiful day for skiing, isnt it?
I appreciated his deference (and insinuation that we were equals on the snow!). I knew he was not thinking Hey look at me. Here I am! but Ahh, there you are. Let me make room for you.
As I implied in the opening words of this book, the diffeence in the life success between those two types of thinkers is incalculable.
Why was Super Skier able to pull off his move so gracefully? Was he born with the skill? No. His was a deliberate move that grew out of practice.
Practice is also the fountainhead of all smooth communictions moves. Excellence is not a single and solitary action. It is the outcome of many years of making small smooth moves, tiny ones like the ninety-two little tricks weve explored in How to Talk to Anyone. These moves create your destiny.
Remember, repeating an action makes a habit. Your habits create your character. And your character is your destiny. May success be your destiny.
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