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How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes.
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1-Page Summary1-Page Book Summary of How to Talk to Anyone

In How to Talk to Anyone, communications expert and bestselling author Leil Lowndes presents practical techniques to help you overcome social discomfort, make a great first impression, and confidently develop new social and professional connections.

In this guide, we’ll first explain the secret to getting people to want to talk to you. Then, we’ll explore Lowndes’s techniques for skillfully approaching and conversing with anyone in three parts:

  • Part 1: Nonverbal signals—make a positive first impression explains how to make yourself appear more approachable and likable to those around you.
  • Part 2: Verbal signals—create instant rapport discusses how to approach and comfortably start a conversation with anyone you want to talk to.
  • Part 3: Verbal Signals—encourage meaningful conversations explores how to build trust and develop an emotional connection with the people you choose to engage with.

Introduction: People Need to Know You Like Them

The first step to approaching and talking to anyone is understanding what makes people want to talk to you. According to Lowndes, people will only want to talk to you if they know you like them. This is because, no matter the context—social or professional—everyone wants to feel adored, appreciated, and good about themselves.

Lowndes argues that the need to be liked governs all social interactions. When people are unsure about whether or not you like them, they feel self-conscious. This makes them feel uncomfortable and they struggle to engage with you. On the other hand, when they’re sure that you like them, they feel at ease around you and enjoy your company—they like you because you make it easy for them to feel good about themselves.

(Shortform note: Behavioral analysts add further insights into why being liked is so important to us, and how liking others encourages them to like you. First, the need to be liked evolves from the need for cooperation to survive: The more likable you are, the more willing people are to provide for your emotional and physical needs. This desire to have your needs met leads you to gravitate towards the people who like you. Second, like Lowndes says, when someone knows you like them, they subconsciously feel happy—over time, they’ll automatically associate your presence with feeling happy. This encourages them to seek you out so that they can experience more positive and uplifting emotions.)

While showing people you like them sounds quite simple, many people find it difficult to put into practice because they let discomfort get in their way. When you meet someone, you also want them to like you. This can create discomfort and a fear of rejection, which, according to Lowndes, has a self-fulfilling effect: The more uncomfortable you feel, the more likely you are to unconsciously emit nonverbal and verbal “I don’t like you” signals—thus repelling the very people you wish to engage with.

(Shortform note: Psychologists clarify how fear of rejection impels you to behave in ways that repel others. The more sensitive you are to rejection, the more likely you are to expect rejection, actively look for proof that others don’t like you, and ignore proof that they do like you. This misperception of how others feel about you leads you to behave in maladaptive ways that make others feel uncomfortable, such as becoming overly ingratiating, withdrawing emotionally, or acting defensive or hostile.)

Lowndes suggests a simple solution to overcome your discomfort and send welcoming signals to the people that you want to talk to: Switch your focus from how you want to feel to how you want to make them feel. This involves becoming conscious of the nonverbal and verbal signals you’re emitting—we’ll explore these signals throughout the rest of the guide.

Part 1: Nonverbal Signals—Make a Positive First Impression

To become good at talking to anyone, you must pay attention to your body language and the nonverbal signals you’re emitting. Since Lowndes’s focus is on helping you talk to anyone, you might wonder why nonverbal signals are so important. According to Lowndes, these silent signals contribute to more than 80% of people’s first impressions of you and influence the way they react to you.

(Shortform note: While it’s true that body language massively influences people’s first impressions of you, there’s no scientific evidence supporting the exact percentage breakdown Lowndes provides. Those who quote numbers on this subject are usually mischaracterizing mid-1960s research by Albert Mehrabian, who claimed that 93% of communication is nonverbal—including body language and tone of voice—and only 7% is verbal. However, this formula was created for a specific context—to reduce uncertainty in understanding people who send mixed verbal and nonverbal signals. Therefore, your body’s signals may not carry as much weight as Lowndes argues when it comes to first impressions.)

In this first part of the guide, we’ll explain how your body language influences the way people think about you. Then, we’ll discuss specific nonverbal techniques you can use to make yourself appear more approachable and appealing.

Your Body Language Communicates Everything About You

Lowndes argues that you form an instinctive impression of everyone you come across within the first few seconds of seeing them. Before someone gets a chance to utter her first words, you’ve already made assumptions...

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Shortform Exercise: How Do You Feel About Talking to Anyone?

Lowndes presents a number of techniques to help you approach others and enjoy comfortable conversations. Let’s explore how you feel about practicing these techniques.


Think about the nonverbal and verbal techniques Lowndes suggests for appearing more approachable and creating rapport. Did you find any of these surprising? Why or why not?

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Table of Contents

  • 1-Page Summary
  • Exercise: How Do You Feel About Talking to Anyone?

1-Page Summary1-Page Book Summary of How to Talk to Anyone

In How to Talk to Anyone, communications expert and bestselling author Leil Lowndes presents practical techniques to help you overcome social discomfort, make a great first impression, and confidently develop new social and professional connections.

In this guide, we’ll first explain the secret to getting people to want to talk to you. Then, we’ll explore...

Want to learn the rest of How to Talk to Anyone in 21 minutes?

Unlock the full book summary of How to Talk to Anyone by signing up for Shortform .

Shortform summaries help you learn 10x faster by:

  • Being 100% comprehensive: you learn the most important points in the book
  • Cutting out the fluff: you don't spend your time wondering what the author's point is.
  • Interactive exercises: apply the book's ideas to your own life with our educators' guidance.

READ FULL SUMMARY OF HOW TO TALK TO ANYONE

Here's a preview of the rest of Shortform's How to Talk to Anyone summary:

How to Talk to Anyone Summary Introduction: People Need to Know You Like Them

The first step to approaching and talking to anyone is understanding what makes people want to talk to you. According to Lowndes, people will only want to talk to you if they know you like them. This is because, no matter the context—social or professional—everyone wants to feel adored, appreciated, and good about themselves.

Lowndes argues that the need to be liked governs all social interactions. When people are unsure about whether or not you like them, they feel self-conscious. This makes them feel uncomfortable and they struggle to engage with you. On the other hand, when they’re sure that you like them, they feel at ease around you and enjoy your company—they like you because you make it easy for them to feel good about themselves.

(Shortform note: Behavioral analysts add further insights into why being liked is so important to us, and how liking others encourages them to like you. First, [the need to be liked evolves from the need for cooperation to...

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How to Talk to Anyone Summary Part 1: Nonverbal Signals—Make a Positive First Impression

To become good at talking to anyone, you must pay attention to your body language and the nonverbal signals you’re emitting. Since Lowndes’s focus is on helping you talk to anyone, you might wonder why nonverbal signals are so important. According to Lowndes, these silent signals contribute to more than 80% of people’s first impressions of you and influence the way they react to you.

(Shortform note: While it’s true that body language massively influences people’s first impressions of you, there’s no scientific evidence supporting the exact percentage breakdown Lowndes provides. Those who quote numbers on this subject are usually mischaracterizing mid-1960s research by Albert Mehrabian, who claimed that 93% of communication is nonverbal—including body language and tone of voice—and only 7% is verbal. However, this formula was created for a specific context—to reduce uncertainty in understanding people who send mixed verbal and nonverbal signals. Therefore, your body’s signals may not carry as much weight as Lowndes argues when it comes to first impressions.)

In this...

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How to Talk to Anyone Summary Part 2: Verbal Signals—Create Instant Rapport

Now that you understand how to send positive and welcoming nonverbal signals, let’s discuss how using the right verbal signals enhances the way people perceive and respond to you. Lowndes maintains that you’ll enjoy pleasant interactions if you put your conversation partners at ease and focus on making them feel as if you like them. She suggests four techniques to help you achieve this.

Technique #1: Use and Take Notice of Visual Gimmicks

Lowndes suggests an easy way to start conversations: Draw attention to yourself by wearing or carrying something unusual, such as a unique brooch or a colorful shirt. This gives people an excuse to approach you and gives you something to talk about. Likewise, pay attention to what those around you are wearing or carrying so that you have an excuse to approach them. Using a complimentary phrase such as, “Wow, I love your shoes! Where are they from?” not only helps you to start a conversation, but it also shows others that you’re interested in them and what they have to say.

(Shortform note: While this approach can get you noticed and help you to approach others, be aware that it might also [make you appear...

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How to Talk to Anyone Summary Part 3: Verbal Signals—Encourage Meaningful Conversations

The four techniques we’ve just covered will help you feel more comfortable about approaching others to discuss a variety of topics. But what if you’re hoping to engage in more meaningful conversations? According to Lowndes, if you want to move beyond superficial conversations, you’re going to have to build an emotional connection with your conversation partner.

What is an emotional connection? To put it simply, it’s when people trust each other enough to reveal more about themselves—who they are and how they really feel about things. Lowndes explains that it’s at this stage that conversations move from being superficial to being meaningful.

(Shortform note: Social experts expand on this definition by explaining that emotional connections and meaningful conversations rely on four factors: First, people need to feel safe enough to express themselves—this happens when they trust you not to laugh at them or judge what they say. Second, people need to feel like...

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Shortform Exercise: How Do You Feel About Talking to Anyone?

Lowndes presents a number of techniques to help you approach others and enjoy comfortable conversations. Let’s explore how you feel about practicing these techniques.


Think about the nonverbal and verbal techniques Lowndes suggests for appearing more approachable and creating rapport. Did you find any of these surprising? Why or why not?

Try Shortform for free

Read full summary of How to Talk to Anyone

Sign up for free

Table of Contents

  • 1-Page Summary
  • Introduction: People Need to Know You Like Them
  • Part 1: Nonverbal Signals—Make a Positive First Impression
  • Part 2: Verbal Signals—Create Instant Rapport
  • Part 3: Verbal Signals—Encourage Meaningful Conversations
  • Exercise: How Do You Feel About Talking to Anyone?