Conversation Miracle by modealphaabcscorpio

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          Conversation Miracle

    7 Keys to Unlock your Ability to Confidently Talk with Anyone

                                   By Arlen B.
                            Edited by Austin Barnes

Copyrighted 2006 by Arlen B. and Austin Barnes. All Rights Reserved. I would
appreciate you not copying or giving this book to others. Feel free to send them to
our website at:

       Great conversation skills can be yours. It is not that hard, though it does
take some practice.    I have compiled what I have learned from experience and
learning into a simple, easy to use system. This system is made up of 7 keys. The
7 keys will allow anyone to turbo-charge their social skills.

        I had six goals in mind as I wrote this system down. My goal is that every
person who reads this book will be able to:

       Confidently start and carry on conversations with almost anyone, anywhere
       Engage in interesting and enjoyable conversation
       Conquer shyness and experience freedom from its power.
       Leave a positive impression with each person
       Become a person with whom people enjoy talking with and being around
       Easily make friends and build relationships

       This is my goal for you the reader. When you reach this goal, you and I
will both have experienced success! With the intro out of the out of the way, let's
look at the secret to unlocking the 7 keys.

                The Secret to Unlocking the 7 Keys

        A six letter word will give you the power to apply the 7 keys and master
Conversation Miracle. It is called desire.

Listen to Eric Hoffer {1902-1983 American Author & Philosopher}:

        “We are told that talent creates its own opportunities. But
        it sometimes seems that intense desire creates not only its
        own opportunities, but its own talents”

        Some say we can get anything--if we want it bad enough. There is some
truth to this. If you have an intense desire for more friends, better friendships, and
to confidently talk with anyone, you will succeed in mastering the 7 keys!

        You know the benefits and you have the desire. It is time to learn the 7

                                      Key #1

        Imagine a dish of vanilla ice cream sitting on a table. On the right side is a
bottle of chocolate syrup. To the left is a bottle of motor oil. You have a choice of
either dynamically increasing the taste (if you like chocolate) or totally ruining the
ice cream with motor oil. Which would you choose? (Stupid question!)

        Unfortunately, some people have a personality which is about as attractive
as motor oil on ice-cream! They seem non approachable. A frown decorates their
face. They have a negative attitude drenched with criticism and pessimism. It is

almost like they have loudspeakers located on their shoulders blaring, “Stay

         It is nearly impossible to carry on a good conversation with them. Either
they talk too much or they kill a conversation with silence. Hardly anyone wants
to be around them. They repel people like water does cats!

         This does not have to be! A person can develop a personality which
attracts people and makes others feel comfortable in their presence.

A warm personality is essential

         Good conversation starts with a warm, friendly personality. People will
enjoy talking with you and being around you. You will appreciate the attention
and have the joy of being friendly towards others. All this means more friends and
better relationships.

         One of the goals of this book is that you will leave a good impression with
each person. Having a friendly personality will do just that! Plus, people will be
more warm and friendly towards you. Why? People tend to respond to you the
same way you treat them!

How do you rate?

         On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you rate your personality? Are you closer to
a 1 (people really enjoy being around you) or are you closer to a 10 (people avoid
you like they would a cup of sour milk)? What would others say?

         Are you a 3? 7? 4? 5? Don't worry about where you are at. Key #1 will
show you how to have have a personality which attracts people.

Here is the key:

Key #1: Be warm and friendly by smiling, being enthused, and
regarding the other person as important.


        Do you want to instantly put yourself in a good mood and do the same to
others? Smile! A study showed that a smile causes biochemical changes in the
brain. These changes create a feeling of happiness!

        Try it right now! Let a slow smile flood your face. You are not just moving
muscles, you are radiating warmth, confidence, and friendliness! You are making
yourself approachable.

But that is not all...

        A smile immediately disarms people and makes them want to respond
with kindness. It attracts people's attention like ice-cream does kids.

        It makes you sound friendly and communicates confidence. The radiating
smile from your face will turn a stare into a friendly look. Plus, it puts a twinkle in
your eye.

The right kind of smile

        There are different kinds of ways to smile. You might have a slight smile
on your face when walking. A friendly “hello”smile for the clerk. A special smile
for family or a special friend.
        Leil Lowndes, author of the excellent book Talking the Winners Way,
points out how a slow flooding smile is much more effective that a quick smile
when meeting someone. A slow smile gives credibility and shows sincerity.

        A slow smile starts inside and then goes to the mouth, cheeks, and then the
entire face. From there it brightens the world around you!

When to smile

    Walk around with a slight smile on your face. It shows confidence and portrays
    warmth. A grim scowl repels people.

    Let a smile flood your face right before you greet someone or are introduced. It
    will make your voice sound cheerful.

        When I am buying an item at a store, I use this principle. I will note the
        clerk's name tag, smile, and then greet the clerk by name. Usually the clerk
        smiles, gives better service and is friendlier. Sometimes nothing happens
        or maybe the clerk will scowl back.

        Who cares! I have done my part by being nice. If the clerk wants a sour
        attitude, it is her/his choice. I don't worry about it.

    Smile when you are talking to someone. It makes your voice sound friendly
    and keeps you from staring (this is important!).

        Your smile and facial expressions need be lined up with what you say. For
an example a person would not tell someone their grandma died with a smile on
their face!

Smile with your body

        Can a person smile and frown with their body? Sure! It is called open body
language and closed body language.

        Open body language tells people that you are approachable. You are
willing to talk and accept their presence.

        Closed body language shouts stay away! People approach a person with
closed body language like they do a new dish of blue colored food!

        Open body language is attained by keeping your arms uncrossed. Have
arms hanging comfortably at your sides or folded on your lap. Keep your body
pointed slightly towards others. Keep your stance open. Use your eyes to make
eye contact. Avoid fidgeting but be relaxed. Don’t forget the smile!

        Close body language happens when a person crosses their arms or holds
them close. This person will tend to be turned away from people. In conversation
they act uneasy and fidget. These can be subtle signals telling people to stay away.

       Stop a moment the next time you are in a public place or at a party. Glance
around and you will see which people seem approachable and are smiling with
their body language. Follow their example and smile with your body.

Choose to smile

       The smile radiating from your face is powerful. It will transform you into a
likable person. All you need to do is apply it. Smile at the next five people you
greet or talk with. Watch their reactions. Generally they will respond with a smile
and with a good attitude. If they don't return the smile, don't worry about it. You
have made yourself feel happier.

        It's time to look at the second point of developing a warm friendly

Be Enthused

       From observing warm, friendly people, I have noticed one trait they all
have in common. They are pleased, enthused, or happy to see people. When I talk
to them, they radiate that they are pleased I am there and am talking with them.

       Friendly people are glad to answer questions and eager to listen. Ask a
question and their voice will show that they are pleased you asked and that they
are glad to answer.

Be enthused to...

1. Be glad to see people and talk with them.

      i. Give them a winning smile.
      ii. Welcome their presence.
2. Be enthused to talk.
      i. Answer questions with more than one or two word answers. Let your
          voice show that you are willing and happy to talk.
      ii. Talk with enthusiasm when answering questions or telling a story. An
          author of a book on speaking told me this: “Enthusiasm is the secret to
          being a great speaker.”
3. Be happy to show interest in people.
      i. Let your voice really show that you are interested.
      ii. Ask questions.
4. Be glad to listen.
      i. Respond to what they say.
      ii. Show that you are interested in what they are saying.
5. Greet others with a friendly “hello”.


       There is a difference between being sincerely pleased to talk with people
and being a love sick puppy who wants others to like them. Over eagerness turns
others off. Just be sincerely glad to see other people, and you will avoid this.
Applying the other six keys will help also.

Sometimes being enthused turns people off

       One afternoon I was working as a clerk in a hardware store. Two men
walked in with sour expressions. Clearly they were not having a good afternoon. I
greeted them with a cheerful “hello”.

        One man stopped, turned, glared at me and said, “What are you so happy
about?” I was taken back. Clearly they did not appreciate my friendliness and my
welcoming them. At the time I wondered why. Later I discovered the answer.

        There are two basic principles in life that are like the law of gravity in
human relations:

               “People like those who are like them.”
               “People feel comfortable around those who are like them.”

        Cheerful people don't like to talk with sour people or the other way
around. People experiencing a bad day would rather not talk with an enthusiastic
salesperson (it is like getting a bucket of cold water over the head). I violated this
principle and the gentlemen in a sour mood was turned off by my cheerful

        We need to be sincerely pleased and enthused to see people, but we don't
want to irritate others. So what is the solution?

        Match mood and voice

                I should have noticed that the two men were having a bad day.
        Instead of a cheerful hello, I should have greeted them in a flatter, less
        energetic “hello”.

               Before you talk with a person, notice their mood and voice. Then
        match it. This is showing empathy and they will appreciate it.

           If they sound tired, you make your voice sound tired. (Still show you
           are glad to see them.)
           If they are talking slowly, you talk slowly.
           If they are excited about something, match their excitement.

               Cheerfully greet someone in a sour mood and they may “bite your
       head off”. Instead greet them with a voice that lacks energy and
       excitement but still shows you are glad to see them. Basically match the
       tone of their voice. This will help you connect with them.

               After the initial exchange you can start to slowly go back to your
       normal mood and voice. Generally they will follow and you will have left
       a good impression!

               Still be glad to see people, glad to talk and show interest. However,
       at first, match their mood and don't act too cheerful if they are not.

       As you smile and are enthused to see people, your warm, friendly
personality will show forth! Here is one more step which is essential.

Regarding the Other Person as Important

       Viewing and treating the other person as important is essential for having
good people skills. If we view the other person as important, we will listen to
them, show interest, and give attention and respect.

       However, if we view a person as less important than ourselves, we will not
listen, show interest or give respect. The result is loss of friends, broken
relationships, and possible failure in the business world.

       Think about it! Racial tension is usually due to one person thinking they
are more important or better than a person of another color.

       Paul, and ancient philosopher who lived in A.D. 50, said this “..with
humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not
{merely} look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of

       Those two things:
               1. Regarding others as important
               2. Looking out for their interests
        will make an attractive, magnetic personality.

How to regard others as important

       View others as important

               Every person, whether it is child, family member, co-worker, clerk,
       or business associate, is important. Their time and opinions are important.
       Furthermore, every person views themselves as important. We must look
       at each person we meet as an important person.

       Treat others as important

               Think of an important person. It could be a movie star, the
       president, your hero, or someone you respect greatly. If they walked into
       the room right now, you would roll out the red carpet. You would greet
       them, give attention, and show interest. You would listen and be polite.

                We need to give the same treatment to family members, co-
        workers, employees, employers, and everyone we come in contact with.
        This includes:
           Showing Interest.
           Giving time to them.
           Giving attention

        We regard others as important be viewing them important and treating
them as important. Doing this will create a warm, friendly personality.

That's it! You have just discovered Key #1:

Key #1: Be warm and friendly by smiling, being enthused, and regarding the other
person as important.

        Wait! Here are are two more bonus hints for developing a warm, friendly

1. Find a role model and copy them.

        Think for a moment of someone whom you know has a warm, friendly
personality. Make a list of what makes them warm and friendly. With this list in
hand you are ready to role model them.

        Every time you are around people, imitate this person and think “What
would _____ do in this situation?” By modeling their behavior, you will quickly
develop a warm, friendly personality.

2. Put off...

         When summer comes people put off their winter clothes for cool,
comfortable summer clothes. With a warm personality, there are a few “winter”
clothes that need to be put off and burned in the trash.

        Negative attitude. Try and stay focused on the positive and avoid always
     talking and thinking about the negative.
        Bad breathe. (Need I say more?)
        Violating personal space. Usually thirty inches is fine. Just watch the other
     person and see if they are comfortable.
        Too much or too little eye contact. Too much and you will make others
     uneasy. Too little and you will display lack of confidence and hinder
     communication. More on this later.

Practical Application


         The hardest place to have a warm, friendly personality is at home. We like
to relax and let our guard down at home. Sometimes we treat our family members!

          Put your guard up! Choose to have a warm, friendly personality at home
and you can have it anywhere.

     Greet each other in the morning.
     Be glad to see each other.
     Be willing to answer questions and promote conversation.

     Show respect to each other just like you would to company.


         You will prevent countless problems by applying this key at work. A sour
attitude is like a virus and will hurt moral at work or school. At work a person
with a friendly personality will quickly stand out to customers and managers alike.

         Customers will generally treat you like you do them. A warm, friendly
manner will help calm down irate customers (I have had my share of these!). At
school it will help increase your popularity and allow you to make more friends.


         The key to good friendships is to be a good friend. Try not to be biased in
who you are warm and friendly to. Treat all friends, family, and acquaintances
with equal respect and friendliness (you will spend different amounts of time with

         In public remember to smile with your body language. You may be
surprised at how many people will approach you at the next party or social event!


         This key will allow you to start and carry on fun conversations with
people. You will leave a good impression.

         Now take the chocolate syrup and dynamically improve your
personality. :)

                                    Key #2

       A young man sat down at a table in the school cafeteria. Nervously, he
greeted the two girls across from him. Lack of confidence and shyness radiated
from him. He avoided eye contact and seemed very unsure of what to say.

       The girls tried to strike up a conversation with him. It went nowhere. His
weak voice made him hard to understand. Only two or three words escaped his
lips. Clearly he was nervous, unsure of himself, and lacked confidence.

       I observed this scenario in college. A lack of confidence killed the
conversation. Was he leaving a good impression? No. Was the conversation
interesting and engaging? No. Was he a person others would like to be around?

Think a moment....

       What if this young man had been confident and sure of himself?

       He would have sat down and made eye contact. Confidence would have
oozed from him as he started the conversation. A couple comments and the
conversation would have been off and running. Both the girls and himself would
have enjoyed the conversation. He would have been a success. Why? Confidence
is empowering!

What confidence will do for you

       A confident person is able to:

       Walk up and start conversations with ease
       Speak up and ask questions
       Meet new people
       Sound confident
       Attract attention because confidence is like a magnet
       Confidently apply the 7 keys

       Have there been times when you have not started a conversation or
introduced yourself because you did not feel sure of yourself or confident?

       What about speaking up in a meeting or breaking a pause. Has a lack of
confidence or fear been like a chain holding you back? I think we all have felt this
bondage at times. Thankfully there is a solution.

       This next key will allow a person to gain instant confidence in three
seconds or less! I use it all the time before I have to speak, start a conversation, or
when I need some confidence.

       Before I tell you the second key let me share with you...

Two Facts About Confidence

Fact #1: Act confident and you will look and feel confident.

       In college I wrote a research paper on how to change unwanted feelings.
One of the things I learned was that feelings follow actions. Act enthusiastic and a

person will soon feel enthusiastic. Act confident and confidence will soon surge
through a person's body.

        It is like driving a car. The feeling of acceleration is felt after the gas
pedal is pushed, not before! Unfortunately people often make a mistake. They
wait for a feeling of confidence before they start a conversation or speak up in a
group. This does not work. It is like waiting for the car to accelerate before
pushing the gas pedal!
       We have very little control over our feelings. However, we have control
over our actions. Feelings will follow actions. Choosing to act confident will
cause the feelings to follow.

       Public Speaking and Acting Confident.

               I took a public speaking class at a local college. One night I was to
       give a persuasive speech. I was extremely nervous. As I stood behind the
       podium giving my speech, my knees were shaking and my voice was

               I refused to let my feelings of fear and nervousness control me.
       Though my voice was choppy, I put vocal expression into my speech. I
       raised and lowered my voice throughout the speech. I chose to pause at
       specific times.

               By the time speech was done, my nervousness had been drastically
       reduced. However, my voice had been quite choppy throughout the speech
       and I felt it did not flow smoothly. I sat down dejected because I was sure
       my nervous had shown through and ruined my speech. Later, my teacher
       got up and said that out of a class of 15 students, my speech was the best!

                Here is my point. I chose to act confident and as a result, I looked
        confident. A feeling of confidence then slowly overcame me as I continued
        speaking. In conversation, make the choice to act confident and you will
        look confident and feel confident.

Fact #2: Confidence + Time = More confidence.

        Confidence breeds confidence. Your confidence will grow each time you
act confident in interacting with others. Every successful conversation leads to
more confidences and more success.

        I have seen this in my public speaking. My confidence increases and my
fear lessons every time I speak. The same will happen to you as you continue to
confidently interact with people .

How to have instant confidence in 3 seconds

        Apply this key for instant confidence:

Key #2: P.R.E.S.S Yourself to Look, Act, and Feel Confident.

P.R.E.S.S stands for:

     Posture straight
     Relaxed body.

     Eye contact
     Speak Clearly

        PRESS reminds of us of five areas in which to act confident. Whenever
you want instant confidence, just PRESS. As you apply these five areas you will
feel confidence and radiate confidence.

Here is when to use PRESS:

       During conversation.
       Right before you enter a room full of people.
       When around others.
       Whenever you need a shot of confidence.
       Preferably all the time!

Let’s go through PRESS and see if we can understand what this means.


        Straighten your posture and you will feel more energetic and confident.
Good posture not only produces confidence but also makes a person sound more
confident and prevents many health problems. Take a look at how to have
confident posture.

Standing and walking

        There is a simple exercise to show you how to walk and stand confidently.
It is the same exercise that beauty queens or actors will often use to straighten
their posture and walk gracefully.

        Stand up and place a book on your head. Adjust your posture and head
until the book is balanced on top of your head. Let go of the book. When the book
is balanced, your posture is straight. Now practice walking around the room with
the book on your head. You will look and feel confident.

Sounds crazy, does it not? Try it! It works and gives a feeling of confidence.

        If your posture needs a total makeover, here is an exercise for proper
posture which is taken from “The Secret of Good Posture” by the American
Physical Therapy Association. Consult your doctor before trying this.

             Stand with your back to a wall. Place your feet three inches away from
             the wall and six inches apart.
             Press your buttocks, shoulder blades, and head back until they are
             touching the wall. Keep your chin level and avoid sticking it up.
             Place your left hand flat against the wall between your lower back and
             the wall. Press your back against your hand.
             Place your right hand on the back of your neck and press your neck
             back against the wall.
             Relax. Remove your hands and place them at your sides while
             maintaining that same position.
             Now walk away.

        This is the proper posture which is the most healthy for your body and
ideal for feeling confident. At first it will feel strange, but you will look and feel


          A slouched posture when sitting is hard on your back. It inhibits your
voice, and hinders your confidence. Here is how to sit confidently:

             Sit with your back firmly against chair. If their is no chair back, keep
             your back straight.
             Keep your head up.
             Basically you want three straight lines when sitting. A line from your
             feet to your knees, knees to hips, and hips to your head.

          There is one more way to portray confidence. This is especially for men.
Have a good, firm handshake. You want your handshake to be firm and confident.
A person should not feel like they are shaking a doll's limp arm. However, don’t
pump a person’s hand. Asking someone to evaluate your handshake and give you
some feedback is a good way to evaluate your handshake.


          Back in college, I was talking to Jon about how to be more sociable. He
gave me one piece of advice: “Slow down.” Evidently my fast pace subtly told
others not to talk to me. Often I appeared like I was brushing others off.

          A confident person should walk with a purpose, but it needs to be at a
comfortable pace. Otherwise people are brushed off by the hurried manner.


       The letter “R” stands for relax. You have just learned about proper
posture. However, you do not want to look like stiff and impersonal. A walking
robot never displayed much confidence! Combat this error by learning to relax.
Like anything else, it comes with practice and it is a choice.

        As you move and sit with the right posture, practice being relaxed. Breath.
Let your arms swing at your sides. Have a relaxed look. It is a little hard to
explain, but practice it and you will master this ability.

Relax by breathing

       Often before I speak I am very nervous and have rapid breathing. I
sometimes feel the same in social situations. The following exercises have really
helped me and will instantly relax a person. Pick one which works for you. Check
with your doctor before trying these.

           Breath in for 3 seconds through the nose. Hold for three seconds.
           Exhale for 6 seconds through the mouth.
           Breath in for a count of three seconds and then breath out quickly and
           deeply as if you had just set down a heavy load of groceries.
           Tense your body for five seconds and then relax.

How being relaxed helped my friend

       It was almost ten o’clock and I was in the school cafeteria doing some
work detail. Rod, a friend in college, was telling me about a problem he was
having. Whenever he had to speak in front of people, he would get nervous. This
nervousness affected his voice and people could hardly understand him.

        I shared with him the first breathing exercise above. He thanked me and
we parted ways.

       A month later we were again in the cafeteria late at night. Rod, mentioned
he had just played the piano for a group of people back at home. He was asked to
share a few words before he played.

       Realizing he was nervous, Rod did the above breathing exercise. Rod said
to me, “Arlen, this breathing exercise calmed me down and I was able to speak
with clarity and I felt confident. It really worked! Thanks!”

       Try it yourself and feel the results.

Eye Contact

 An eye can threaten like a loaded and leveled gun, or it can insult like hissing or
kicking; or, in its altered mood, by beams of kindness, it can make the heart dance
                          for joy. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

       Proper eye contact conveys confidence and acceptance of other. Lack of
eye contact tends to show distrust and lack of interest. Too much eye contact
makes others nervous and comes across as staring. It is like butter on bread. Too
little and the bread tastes bland. Too much and the taste is ruined.

The effectiveness of eye contact

       An article in the The Journal of Social Psychology told about the powerful
effects of eye contact.

       In one of the experiments, a young lady was to ask strangers in a park for a
dime so she could make a phone call. Half the time she looked the stranger in the
eye during the request. The other half she avoided eye contact. Looking people in
the eye significantly increased her chances of getting a dime.2

How to have successful eye contact

       I have spent hours combing through scientific journals in electronic
databases. Study after study showed the importance of increased eye contact and
our natural eye contact patterns. However, I could not find a study detailing the
ideal amount of eye contact (though I am sure it is out there). After much personal
observation and reading the opinions of conversation experts, speakers, and
motivational authors, I have come up with the Rule of 57.

       The Rule of 57 will allow you to have effective eye contact. You will
avoid the extreme of staring, yet will still display confidence.

                                     Rule of 57

                Speaking: Eye contact 50% of the time.
                Listening: Eye Contact 70% of the time.

                Both Listening and Speaking: Hold eye contact
                for four seconds and then slowly glance away for a
                second or two before coming back. This glance
                needs to be slow and sideways (unless a person is
                eating or has good reason to look down).

       Diverting the eyes past the head slightly, before coming back, is a good
option. Glancing down shows lack of confidence. A quick glance away shows

How to have dynamic eye contact

           Look each person in the eye when saying, “hello”.
           Have a slight smile on the face to avoid scowling and staring.
           Hold eye contact for an extra second when saying “thank-you” or
           greeting someone.
           Always note the eye color when first meeting someone.

Lets get more specific.


               Successful eye contact happens when your eyes follow the target of
       your voice. If you are not talking to the floor, then don’t look at it! The
       first few seconds are crucial when you start to talk. Make it a habit to first
       look at the person and then speak.

        Talk for about 4 seconds or complete a thought and then slowly pull your
        eyes away for a few seconds. After a few seconds, bring them back. In a
        group you could move from person to person.

                Maintain the 70% eye contact. Keep a slight smile on your face.
        This avoids intensity of eye contact. Vary facial expressions. Watch your
        partner to see if they are uncomfortable with the amount of eye contact.
        Too much eye contact is just as bad as not enough!

Winning the struggle with maintaining eye contact

        Depending on past experience, some people may struggle with making eye
contact. Here are a couple suggestions. First, look at the eyebrows, mouth, or
right between the eyes. Your partner should not know the difference and it may
make you feel more comfortable. Second, practice! Practice talking to yourself in
a mirror. Third, act confident and you will feel confident. Just choose to do it and
it will get easier with time.

Throw out everything I have said if...

        You need to be aware of the culture and situation you are in. In the
business world, increased eye contact is normal. In some cultures and even places
in the US, a lot of eye contact is considered confrontational. If what I told you is
making others nervous, change your style to make others more comfortable.

Observant eyes

        I read in the Readers Digest about some safety tips and how to avoid being
attacked or robbed. One tip was to always be alert to surroundings.

        A person who is not very observant will cause themselves some trouble
(like I have at times). This can include forgetting where something is laid down,
unintentionally ignoring people, or not seeing there is something behind the car
when backing up!

        A person can effectively have observant eyes. Observant eyes portrays
confidence and makes you feel confident.

        Apply one or all three of these suggestions:

            Mentally count items as you go through the day. Note number of items
            on a table. Count the cars ahead of you.
            Always be finding things that stands out. It could be the long nose on a
            customers face (this is the first step in many memory programs on
            remembering names). Maybe it is the crack in the windshield or a
            messy desk. Looking for things out of the ordinary will give you
            observant eyes.
            Note the color of things around you.


        As talked about earlier, a smile conveys confidence and makes a person
feel and appear friendly. I won't repeat what I said, but I will remind you to use it.
Walking around with a slight smile on your face will make you feel confident as
well as reflecting it to others.

Speak Clearly

         When we speak up in a group or talk with someone, we want to be
understood. Often nervousness, bad speaking habits, shyness and other barriers
will hinder communication.

         There are three tips which will help you speak confidently: breath, open
mouth, and pause and pace. They will help immensely in helping your natural,
confident voice spring forth.


         Often people sound weak or nervous because they are talking on little air.
Taking a couple of deeps breaths will calm a person down. A short sip of breath
before starting to talk will allow your first words to come out clearly.

         You should breathe from the abdomen. Put your hand on your stomach
and breathe. You should feel your stomach moving. Often when we get nervous,
we breath from the chest. This makes our voice sound higher, weaker and more
choppy. The next time you are in a nervous situation, make sure you are breathing
from your abdomen or stomach.

Open mouth

         Our voice escapes through the mouth and then heads for the ears of others.
Sometimes our natural voice is squelched because we only open our mouth
partway. Focus on opening the mouth and letting your voice spring forth.

         An actor once told me about a great exercises for learning to speak
through an open mouth. Take a pencil and place it in the mouth with the ends

sticking out your cheeks. Push it as far back as possible. Now talk. This will train
you to keep their mouth open when talking.

Pause and pace

       When people get nervous, they tend to talk really fast and mumble. Pace
yourself and pronounce your words clearly. Pause after key points and make sure
your partner has caught up with you.

       There you have it! Use PRESS as much of the time as possible. Get into
the habit of always making eye contact, having the right posture, and being
relaxed. You will feel confident and look confident.

         A warm personality will make the other person feel comfortable in your
presence. PRESS enables you to feel comfortable and confident.

Practical Application

         At home it is easy just to relax and slouch around the house. It is
sometimes easy to ignore the people close to us and not give them proper respect.
Master the ability to use PRESS at home and you will automatically use it in the
real world.


       Applying PRESS will give you confidence in any job you do. Whether it is
cleaning windows, meeting a new contact, or working with people, PRESS will
give you confidence.


       Using PRESS will leave a great impression as well as giving you the
confidence to talk with people.

Three Bonus Tips

1. Choose the natural position for one on one conversation

       Conversation needs to be natural. Stand too close to someone and they will
feel uncomfortable. Facing each other head on can be a little intimidating. There is
a position in which a conversation can happen naturally and comfortably.

       Reach your left hand out straight in front you. Now move your left hand so
it is pointing straight out the side. Move it back until it is halfway between the
side and the front. The end of your hand is where your conversation partner
should be. This 45 degree angle is the ideal position for conversation (either side).

       At this position you both feel comfortable. You can easily make eye-
contact. Observe how people carry on conversations. They will naturally flow into
this formation.

       Watch personal space. Thirty inches is the norm in US. Don’t stand too
close or too far away. If you notice people pulling away, either they want to end
the conversation, or you are too close.

2. How to put energy in your voice.

          When talking, lean forward slightly. Doing this will cause your voice to be
vibrant and filled with energy. It will gain attention and help you communicate
better. Instead of being back on your heels, transfer weight to the front of your
feet. Lean forward slightly when sitting.

3. How to use confidence to conquer shyness.

          Polls have shown that up to 45% of the population considers themselves
shy. A lot of people struggle with shyness! From my experience I have noticed
that shyness can be like a chain which a person drags around. It can instantly give
a feeling of fear, make the knees tremble, or keep a person from talking with

          You can use confidence to beat shyness.

          1. Choose to act confident despite your feelings.

                 Don't let your feelings control you! Choose to make eye contact
          and use PRESS. Acting confident will give you confidence and help
          squelch your shyness. Each time you act confident you will beat back your
          shyness and you will be in control and not a slave of shyness.

          2. Stop focusing on yourself and interact with others.

                 Shyness should be spelled shIness. It is thinking too much about
          one's self. Instead of focusing on your fears, get out and interact with
          others. Walk up to people and start conversations. Speak up with a good

       question or story. Ignore your fear and you will learn to conquer it. As
       time passes your shyness will decrease.

       Choose to use the 7 keys outlined in this books. As you do you will find
yourself in control of your shyness and not the other way around.

       You now know key #2. Don't forget to: P.R.E.S.S Yourself to Look, Act,
and Feel Confident.

                                     Key #3

       There are two key problems in conversation: one, starting conversations
and two, keeping them rolling. Overcome these two problems and you will be a
dynamic conversationalist! You will have more friends. You will enjoy social
events more and be able to talk with anyone, anywhere.

       Let’s look at the secret to starting conversations and keeping them rolling:

Key #3: Take the Initiative to Start Conversations with the
2-Step Method.

       It is pretty simple. You take the first step and start conversations! Don’t
wait for the person next to you to start talking with you. Don’t think “I wish ___
would come talk to me.” Instead, swallow your fear and strike up a conversation!
Be bold and ignore any fear.

Why most conversations never happen

         Most conversations never happen or die early. Why? Someone did not
start the conversation. Maybe the conversation was started but it failed because
someone did not take the initiative to keep it going.

         Many people are afraid or unsure of starting conversations or taking the
right steps to keep it going. Starting conversations is easy -- if you know how to
do it. 90% of starting conversations is overcoming your fear and choosing to do it.

         Once a person takes the initiative, good things happen! I have many
friendships which started because I approached someone and started one
conversation. My first job happened because I took the initiative and approached
the store manager and asked for a job. You could have similar success. Just apply
this key.


         Yes, I know. It feels uncomfortable and fear sometimes holds us back. But
who cares if it feels uncomfortable to start conversations! Find someone with
whom you would like to start a conversation. Walk up to them and start the
conversation! You will be glad you did!

Here are just a few places to apply this key:

            Take the first step and initiate conversations with the clerk, the person
            in line with you, passenger, seat mate, family, etc.
            See a business contact? Go say, “Hello.”
            If you see someone you barely know, just walk up and start the
            Bored? Pick up that phone and call someone you know.

            See a friend? Strike up a conversation.
            Take fifty seconds to start a conversation with your coworker or boss.
            Break out of the house and meet your new neighbor (don’t break into
            his house!).


         You might be thinking, “I don’t know how.”
         Now that is a problem, but we will fix that.

How to start a conversation with anyone (Friend, Stranger, Business
Contact, Clerk, etc.)

         OK. You have taken the first step and approached a stranger, friend,
acquaintance, etc. You are going to start this conversation. How? Easy. Say
something. Anything! Most of the time the conversation will get started by itself.
However, to make things easier, here is a 2-step method.

2-Step Method

1. Break silence with a greeting or comment.

         A conversation cannot start until the silence is broken. Whether you meet
a stranger at work or are eating lunch with your friend or spouse, the silence must
be broken. Breaking the silence gives birth to new conversation.

         Anything will work! Generally, most people break silence by greeting each
other or making a comment.

       Greeting (You will use this most of the time):
                  Hello ___
                  Good morning.
                  Welcome Home.


                  The elevator is pretty slow.
                  The weather has been pretty cool lately.
                  Larry is taking his family on vacation.
                  I heard on the news that...

Sometimes it is appropriate to introduce yourself.

       How to introduce yourself:

                   Hi, I’m Sam. (Usually they will say their name. If not, it is
                   natural to ask.)
                   Hello, I don’t believe we have met. My name is Susan.
                   Hi, my name is Sherry. I am a student at ______. (Throwing
                   out some free information about yourself identifies you and
                   gives them something to ask about.)

               Depending on where you live, it is often appropriate to extend your
       hand. After exchanging names, it is common to say, “Nice to meet you.”
After breaking the silence, the other person will usually say something.
Sometimes it may be appropriate to make another comment. However, usually
you will move onto step #2.

2. Follow-up with a good question.

       The silence is broken and you have a tender flame of conversation going.
It is time to get things blazing! A question will do the trick.

           What have you been staying busy with lately?
           How are things going in your life?
           How was your day?
           How are classes going?
           How was work?
           How often do you shop here?

       You want a good question which promotes conversation. Later I will show
you how to ask good questions which feed conversation like gasoline feeds fire.
Plus, I will show how you can always have good questions to ask.

       For now, practice breaking the silence and asking a question. Let's look at
some examples.


       You: Hey John.
       John: Hi __
       You: So what have you been busy with lately?

       You: This English class looks interesting.
       Them: Yes it does.
       You: Do you enjoy writing?


        Employee: Good morning.
        Boss: Hello.
        Employee: How was your weekend?

        You: I heard those wildfires are destroyed over three thousand homes.
        Co-worker: Yeah. Is that not terrible!
        You: Yes it is. If your house was destroyed by one of those fires, do you
        think you would build again or move? Why?


        You: Hi, I don’t believe we have met. My name is ___.
        Sarah: Nice to meet you. My name is Sarah.
        You: So Sarah, how do you like to spend most of your time?

        You: Long line, is it not?
        Stranger: Yes it is.
        You: One time I had to stand in line for 10 minutes. What do you think
        has been the longest line you have been in? (Now your off and going!)

        You: Hi, my name is ____.
        Stranger: Nice to meet you. My name is Mary.
        You: Nice to meet you Mary. How did you learn to know the host?


        Wife: Hi
        Husband: Hi

        Wife: What did you do at work today?

        Parent: Hello
        Teenager: Hey
        Parent: How was basketball practice?

Tip: Making a comment and then asking a question often works well.

        You: “The Yankees beat the Red Sox last night at baseball. Who do you
think will win the World Series?”

        The two step method is to help you, not hinder you. Sometimes you might
think it is better to start the conversation with a question. Don't feel tied to the
two-step method. Ask a question and enjoy the conversation.

        This may seem strange, but I am going to cover how to end conversations.
A good airplane flight ends with a good landing. A great conversation ends with a
great ending.

        Ending the Conversation with Two Steps

                Conversations cannot go on forever. Maybe you want to talk with
        someone else. Maybe it is getting boring. Whatever the reason, you want
        to gracefully and tactfully end the conversation. Here is an effective way to
        end a conversation with two easy steps.

                1. Give an ending signal and a reason for ending the

                        Well, I had better let you go.
                        I need to go talk with some other people.
                        Have you tried that punch yet, I am going to head over

            2. Follow up with an complement about the conversation or a
                        Nice talking with you.
                        Thanks for sharing about your job.
                        It was interesting talking with you.
                        It was nice meeting you.
                        Thanks for you advice.
                        It was nice seeing you again.
                        Enjoy your afternoon.

     Don't lie. I know one author recommends a person lying to get out of a
     conversation. This is a great way to lose credibility.

     Examples of Ending Conversation:

            You: I need to go meet some other people. Thanks for telling me
            about your trip.

            You: Well, it is about time for me go. It was nice to see you again.

     Tip: End a conversation before it ends itself.

                 All conversations finally start to wind down and eventually die.
          Later you will learn techniques on giving added life to these conversations.
          However, always end a conversation before it dies. It is better to end the
          conversation on a high point or while it is going downhill than after it
          crashes with an uncomfortable 10 second pause.

                 You may notice that the other person is wanting to pull away. Don't
          force the conversation. Go ahead and end the conversation and you will
          both appreciate it.

That's it. You have just learned Key #3: Take the initiative to starting
conversations with the 2-step method.

          Start using this key right away. The next time you see someone whether it
is a clerk, new classmate, neighbor, or stranger, boldly start the conversation and
keep it going.

Practical Application

          Taking the initiative can mean calling distant family. Talk with your
spouse, parents or kids. Strike up a conversation in the car. Don't wait for the
other person, take the first step.

          When is the last time you had a good conversations with some of your
classmates or coworkers? Use this key to meet new people and get to know people


       Recently we got a phone deal with unlimited long distance. I have made
great use of this to keep up with old coworkers, friends, classmates, and teachers.
Use this key to build better friendships and make more friends.


       I view starting a conversation with a stranger like opening a Christmas
present. I will never know who I will meet! In new situations, a person will
command respect and likability by approaching people and introducing

       It's time to move onto key number four.

                                    Key #4

       When I was 18, I started a business selling landscape rocks. In a one week
time period I would talk to a lot of people. Because I was somewhat shy and not a
talkative person, it was somewhat of a struggle to talk about my product.
However, I realized this was an asset!

       Instead of talking about my product, I would show interest in people and
ask questions. The results were astounding! I made quick friends out of customers
and they sold themselves. I could easily carry on a conversation for 15 minutes, a
half hour or longer!

       There were two secrets which attributed to my success: being interested in
others and listening.

What does it mean to be interested?

       Being interested in people means caring about a person and showing a
       desire to know more about them.

The Power of Interest

       Showing Genuine interest in other people is one of the most powerful
forces on earth. Listen to Dale Carnage, “You can make more friends in two
months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by
trying to get other people interested in you.”

       Interest will make you a success with people. You will be great at
conversation. People will love talking with you. Why? People enjoy others
showing interest in them.

       The benefits do not end there. Interest is the key to starting and building
friendships. It will allow a person to talk with anyone, anytime, because everyone
loves to talk about themselves!

Using interest internationally

        A year and a half ago I was flying through Australia on an international
trip. My seating companion was an older gentlemen. I greeted him and was
interested in knowing more about him.

        I shared where I was going, and then asked if he was flying back to his
home or away from home. He answered me. I showed some more interest. It
turned out this man was an Australian senator! We talked for over an hour on the
flight. I enjoyed the conversation and he did also.

        As we landed he gave me his business card and said, “Arlen, when
someone gives you their business card they expect you to use it!” Wow! Talk
about friends in high places!

        I could share many similar stories of the amazing results of showing
interest, but let's answer the big question: “How do I show interest?” The answer
is found in the this key.

Key#4: Be Interested in People as you go F.O.R.T.H. into
        We will talk about FORTH in a moment, but first, a note of caution about
interest. You cannot fake interest. It must be sincere. People who fakes interest are
easy to spot because they ask a question and then do not listen. So remember to be
sincerely interested and then listen.

        Interest is an attitude. It is entering every conversation with the attitude
that I think what you are saying is important and I am interested in knowing more
about you and your opinions. From this attitude a person shows interest.

How to show interest

How do I show interest? Easy! Ask questions.

       Questions are extremely powerful. They spark conversation. They created
dynamic conversations. A good question will smash through the barrier from
small talk to real conversation.

       Any question loaded with interest will work. In fact, any question is better
than no question. However, some types of questions are better than others. Here
you will learn how to ask good questions which will ignite conversations.

Asking Good Questions

A good question is one which:

       People enjoy answering.
       Encourages people to talk.

       When people are talking and enjoying themselves you are leaving an
excellent impression.

       There are basically two types of questions: open-ended questions and
closed ended questions.

Closed ended questions result in just one or two word answers

Some examples:

           When did you move to LA? 1981
           Did you enjoy the ball game? Yes
           Are you enjoying the party? Yes

       Here the speaker is showing interest. However, conversations will not last
long when these questions are used (unless the other person is real talker).

Open ended questions result in several sentence answers.

           How did you end up in LA? My dad was transferred here as part of his
           job back in 1981.
           What are you enjoying about the party? The food is pretty good. I did
           meet this interesting guy...

       Look at the above. Open ended questions fuel a conversation and are a
quick way to jump-start a conversation. These questions also gives a person all
sorts of things to ask about.

       Open ended questions are good, but don’t throw away close ended
questions. They are useful for gaining specific information and setting up an open
ended question. Often I use the follow up method. I will ask a closed ended
question and then follow it up with an open ended question. For an example:

       Where are you going to college? Harvard.
       What made you decide to choose this college?

       When I first learned about showing interest I did not understand about the
two types of questions. Often I would ask closed ended question. It would sound

like I was interviewing a person! I solved this by asking open ended questions
which promoted conversation. Also I learned how to share information more
effectively (covered later).

Asking About the Right Things

       You know the importance of interest. But what do you ask about? One of
the biggest obstacles people have in talking with others is not knowing what to
say or ask.

       I used to have a similar problem. I would meet a stranger or a friend and
would not know how to show interest. To combat this problem, I created the
acronym F.O.R.TH to help others and myself as we go FORTH into

       Before I meet someone or as the conversation starts to die, I will quickly
run through this acronym to find something to ask about or comment on.

       Family. How are your parents? How many kids? How is the health? Is
       your family going to be taking a vacation?
       Occupation. How’s work going. What do you enjoy about your job?
       Recent events. The most recent event is what was just said by that person.
       It also includes news, recent activities by both of you, etc. Did you hear
       about the ____ on the news? How was the party this weekend?
       Things. Look around you and ask or make a comment about something.
       Nice car! Which dealership did you get it from? I noticed your English
       book. How are you enjoying the class?
       Hobbies. What hobbies are you involved in? How did you decide to get
       into this hobby? How do you like to spend your time?

Let me illustrate how to use FORTH.

       I run into Jerry and we do some small talk and the conversation is about to
die. I run through FORTH in my mind. This is what I come up with:

       I could ask about how Jerry's daughter is doing. Family: How is your
       daughter doing?
       I know he works at the airport so I could ask about that. Occupation: What
       are you doing at work these days.
       There was just a power outage across the US. I could ask about that.
       Recent Events: What would you do with your time if the power went out
       for two days?
       We are standing by his car. I could ask if he has been happy with this
       model. Things: How has this car performed for you.
       He is into computers, so I talk about that. Hobbies: Have you gotten any
       more computer equipment lately?

       FORTH is a handy little tool which will enable you effectively show
interest and keep conversations rolling.

4 Tips for Showing Interest

Tip#1: Be interested in what they are saying

       Here is a powerful tip for keeping conversations flowing. Show interest
and ask questions about what they are saying. For an example:

       Them: My friend is in the hospital.

        You: That is too bad! How long has he been there?

Tip #2: Use opinions

        Every person has an opinion on just about everything. People enjoy being
asked for their opinion and are willing to share it. When we ask someone for their
opinion, we are regarding their views as important. They are flattered and will
generally share it. I have used this tactic to start stalled conversations and to create
interesting conversations. Usually one key question will do the trick:

        What do you think about ________? (this class, the president, a recent
        news item, etc.)

        Often I will use the follow up method and ask their opinion and then a
more specific question.


        What do you think about global warming? Is there a way to prevent it?

Tip #3: The “Tell Me” tactic

        In addition to questions, the “Tell Me” tactic works great. You simply
show interest by saying, “Tell me”. Caution: make sure the the phrase is loaded
with interest and not demanding.

            Tell me how your weekend went.
            Tell me more about this new car you have.

           Tell me about your family. How many kids are there? (Notice the
           follow-up question.)

Tip #4: Load your questions with interest.

       Asking questions and using the “Tell Me” tactic are only good if they are
loaded with interest. Look at this:

       Questions and the “Tell Me” tactic are like a car.
       Interest is the engine of the car.

       These question will only work if the engine of interest is active and
running. So, remember to focus on being interested and then showing it through
questions and the “Tell Me” tactic.

A Few More Tips

       People love talking about themselves. You can talk to a person for hours
       by just talking about them.
       People enjoy talking about other people.
       Share information before asking a question which may be too nosy or too
       personal. I am working for ____. Where do you work at?
      Prepare beforehand. If you going on a date, attending a social event, or
      having a one on one luncheon with someone, prepare a few questions ahead
      of time. It will make time go so much easier. People would never dream of
      going to a party without clothes, yet many go unprepared without any
      questions or conversation topics.

Equip Yourself with 7 Questions

         Here are seven questions I have memorized to pull out when I meet new
people or old friends.

         How do you like to spend most of your time? I used this all the time when
         selling rocks. It yielded all sorts of free nuggets for me to show interest.
         If you could live in any country (city, state, etc.) which would you choose?
         Why? (You could adapt and ask where they would choose to spend their
         How did you end up getting into this career? (choosing this school,
         moving to this city, or marrying this person)
         What are major challenges you face in parenting these two kids? (working
         at this job, doing this project, etc.)
         What books, movies, tapes, magazines do you like? Why?
         How was your day, week, party, Christmas?
         What’s one person who has had a lot of influence on your life? Why?

Practical Application


         On the surface teenagers and sometimes husbands do not appear to want to
talk. However, everyone enjoys talking and will talk if asked the right questions.
Remember, people love to talk about themselves.

         Ask about their interests. A teenager will talk their parents ear off, if
         someone is interested in them and their hobbies.
         Ask open ended questions.

       Pounce on free information and show interest. A teenager says, “I took a
       test today.” The parent could ask, “Which class? ... Are you enjoying that


       Interest is powerful. Use it with your coworker, boss, teacher, etc. Find out
what they like to talk about. You will rapidly build a good relationship. From my
experience a person can make contacts with virtually anyone just by showing
interest. You will be surprised about how many people in high positions can
become your friends just through interest.

        In college my feeling was that good grades were 90% hard work and 10%
being friends with the teacher and graders!


       Remember things about your friends. If they mentioned they were going to
a high school reunion, ask them about it later. They will appreciate your interest
and it will build the friendship.


       With clerks and sales people, I will often ask a question. I may ask if they
have had a busy day or something similar. The interest brightens their day and
sometimes results in better service. Try it sometime.

Use Interest to Beat Shyness

       Interest is a great way to overcome shyness. You might not feel
comfortable telling a three minute story, but you can easily choose to ask a
question and show interest. This will promote conversation, build your
confidence and help you win your battle against shyness.

Don't forget to use:

Key #4: Be interested in people as you go F.O.R.T.H. into conversation.

                                     Key #5

       Talk is cheap! Very few people will pay someone to talk about themselves
for 40 minutes (other than a public speaker). Yet, people will fork over a fifty
dollars an hour to a psychologist or therapist so a professional can listen to them.

       I am not knocking these professions, but my point is simple: listening is a
sought after commodity. It is as good as gold.

       Give out this gold and people will enjoy being around you.
       Become a good listener and you will be a great conversationalist. In fact,
you can carry on a conversation for over an hour by just listening and a few

questions. This was my secret in selling rocks. I showed interest and listened.
People would often return a week later just to talk. This is how I added new
customers and made new friends.

        You might be thinking, “So the other person enjoys my listening, but what
are the benefits for me?” Plenty. For starters people will enjoy being around you,
but that’s not all.

Listening allows a person to overcome shyness.

Listening gets attention

        Sometimes people try and impress others and try to get attention. There is
a better way. Listen! Others will be impressed and you will get there attention.

        Solomon, a writer who lived over three thousands years ago, pointed out
how listening makes a person appear wise, clever, and smart3. Plus, when the
other person is talking, you don’t have to worry about what to say!

Listening gains you an audience

        By listening and giving attention you are flattering others. You are gaining
respect. Now that you have that respect, they will listen when you talk. Let me
        In conversation I will often start the conversation and then listen and show
interest for a few minutes. Doing this leaves a good impression. Now when I start
to talk they will return the favor and listen.

        Are you starting to see the importance of listening?

       One more thing. The listener, not the talker is in control of the
conversation. A simple question can detour the speaker to a more interesting topic
(I use this when the speaker is on a very boring subject). I am not saying you
should never talk, but listing and interest should be your main tools in

Normal listening needs help

       Research shows that we remember between 10-20% of what we hear.
Phenomenal! 90%-80% of instructions from our boss, what the teacher says, a
spouse says, etc. goes through one ear and out the other.

       With the tactics I am about to show you, you will significantly boost this
percentage. In doing so you will dynamically improve your relationships, learning,
and conversation abilities.

This next key will allow you to listen in such a way that you:

       Catch keywords.
       Encourage others to talk.
       Remember what people say.
       Remember names.
       Truly empathize with people.
       Really listen and understand what others are saying.
       Leave a positive impression.

       Become a good conversation partner.

Here is the key:

Key #5: Learn to Listen with a Listening Pause and Your
Listening C.A.R.D.

The Listening Pause

       Stop for a second. Count “1 and 2 and 3”. This is the listening pause. Use
it every time you think the other person finishes talking. Don’t interject a
comment or answer a question until after a count of three.

       Silence for a count of three! Yes. Won’t this seem awkward? To you it
might, but not to others. In fact it will impress others. When I started using this, I
was surprised how much more others said.

       It is good to acknowledge you heard the other person by nodding, etc.
Though it may seem like a long break, in reality it is not that long and the results
are tremendous!

Here is what I found when I started using the listening pause:

       I quit interpreting people (interrupting really turns people off).

       It was phenomenal how much more others said. Sometimes people pause
       just a second to collect their thoughts. It is easy to jump in and say
       something. By giving them time, others often have more to say.
       It was excellent for talking with shy people or people of few words. Often
       they would say more.
       It would give me time to think of an answer to their question or of what to
       say next.
       It helped cure some of my foot-in-mouth disease.
       I also noticed that other people who use this pause, appear wise, clever and
       It supercharged my ability to think on my feet.
       I listened much better.

When not to use the listening pause

       While driving in fast-moving traffic you may have to slice in front of
someone to change lanes. The same applies to talking with a long winded, boring
spokesman. You’ll have to slice in and interrupt, ask a question, change the
subject, or make a comment. You will save yourself from boredom and the other
person probably won’t mind.

       Your now marching into conversation with your listening pause. It is time
to learn to use your listening card.

The Listening C.A.R.D

We use the acronyms C.A.R.D. To remember how to listen. It stands for:
       Choose to listen to keywords
       Absolute Attention


Choose to listen to keywords

        Face it. Every time someone opens their mouth to speak to you, you have a
choice. Either listen or tune them out. There are a million things you could think
about: the latest news, what you are going to do tonight, what you are going to say
next, etc.

        To listen effectively you must make a conscious choice to listen. When
someone opens their mouth to speak, that’s your cue. Choose to listen.
        When you are choosing to listen, focus on the keywords. Keywords are
words which answer the questions: Who? What? Why? Where? When? How?
( 5 W's and H).

Look at this sentence:

        Yesterday, my brother was admitted into the hospital because he was
        feeling chest pains.

        When you choose to listen to this sentence you would mentally the note
the following key words:

        Yesterday (when), my brother (who) was admitted (what) into the
        hospital (where) because he was feeling chest pains. (why)

        Are you going to catch every keyword? Probably not. But just trying to
mentally note these words will force you to pay attention.

          Tuning people in, instead of out will skyrocket your abilities. It will take a
few days to get this skill really going. Soon you will be effortlessly be picking up
on keywords and remembering what you hear.

Absolute Attention

          One thing people desire is attention. Absolute attention will cause others
to enjoy the conversation. You will be able to listen more effectively. Plus, as you
give absolute attention you will appear to be listening even if your mind wanders a

          There is some truth to the saying that, “it is more important to look like
you are listening, than to actually listen.” (Don’t worry. With the listening card
you will look like your listening and you will be listening.)

          A teacher in college told me about a study. This study showed that
students could increase their grade by one letter by simply looking at the teacher.
Obviously more of what was said was understood and remembered. Absolute
attention will boost listening skills at work, home and family.

          Giving Absolute Attention

                  Give absolute attention by making eye contact and tuning your ears
          to what they are saying. Focus your mind and attention while ignoring
          distractions. It is irritating talking to people who are not paying attention.

          Hint: Don’t give too much eye contact! Usually 70% of the times is fine.
          To soften your gaze, smile.

        The Forward Lean

                Leaning forward slightly will funnel your attention towards the
        other person. It is like a flashing light alerting the speaker that you are
        listening and interested in what is being said.

Reflect that you are Listening

        Have you noticed that people never carry on a conversation with a
refrigerator? The reason is simple. People want feedback and to know the other
person is listing (this is why the refrigerator is unpopular as a conversation

        Whenever I speak to an audience, there are always those who I can see are
really listening. They are reflecting that they are listening.

        Reflect means to “give back.” Basically the one talking is communicating
and the listener is reflecting back that they are understanding and listening.
Reflecting encourages the speaker, boosts listening ability, and lets the speaker
know the listener is understanding what is being said.

        In conversations we need to reflect four things: attention, content,
feeling, and what you have decoded. It is really simple to do. Bear with me as I
explain it.

        Reflect Attention (Shows you are listening.)
                    Give verbal cues like "I see." “Interesting.” “Wow!" “Really.”
                    Have positive body language. Lean towards them slightly. Nod
                    your head when appropriate. Lean head to side slightly. Make
                    eye contact.

                Stay focused on the person and ignore distractions.

     Reflect Content (Shows you are catching what they are saying.)
                Make a comment about something they just said.
                Ask a question of what they just said. Where did you buy this
                Paraphrase a phrase or sentence of something they said. Your
                dog had puppies! This is also helpful for continuing on the
                conversation. When you repeat or paraphrase a few words back
                to a person they will often start to talk on that subject! This
                method is great for steering conversations.

     Reflect Feeling (Shows you are understanding their emotions.)
                Laugh at jokes.
                Share in sympathy. Oh no!
                Comment or show interest in feelings. Are you feeling

     Reflect back what you have decoded (Shows you understand intended

            How you do this varies. You might just repeat back the main
     thought of the instructions your manager gave you.

            Manager: Type this report up and give to Mr. Pearl. Tell him to
            fax it XYZ company.
            Employee: OK. I’ll type it up, give it to Mr. Pearl and tell him to
            fax it to XYZ.

                Here is a great sentence which will cut miscommunication by 90%!
        Say, “Let me repeat back what I think you said to see if I really
        understand you.” Then repeat what you think they said. This way any
        miscommunication can be cleared up.

                There are times when a person might need to reflect both content
        and feelings. It is not that hard once you have properly decoded. Take this

                   A husband comes home late from work and his wife, verbally
                   tears into him by saying, “Your never home in the evenings.” (A
                   statement the husband knows is not true). Properly decoded the
                   wife is really saying that she is frustrated about something. His
                   getting home late may or may not be the reason.

                   The husband can reflect by saying tenderly, “Your feeling
                   frustrated about me getting home late. Would you like to tell me
                   about it?” The husband has properly decoded or at least
                   attempted to and his wife will probably reveal more and they
                   will both avoid an argument.


        I was watching the movie “Fiddler on the Roof” a couple weeks ago. In
one scene the father goes to the see the butcher. The butcher wants to marry the
father’s daughter. He starts to hint at it. The father thinks the butcher is talking
about getting buying a cow.

       A hilarious conversation happens as each side fails to decode what the
other person is saying! Unfortunately this happens all the time. What a listener
understands is not always what the speaker was really saying!

       The solution is to decode what the talker is intending to communicate.
This will take some effort, but you can do it. You are already choosing to listen to
keywords so your focus is on the conversation. Take listening to the next step by
mentally asking two questions and listening for the answers.

       Question #1: What are you talking about?

           Flip on the TV in the middle of the news. When you hear the
       announcer speaking you will subconsciously ask the above question. This
       question reveals the big picture. It shows you the forest while the
       keywords give the individual trees.

           Lets say I overhear a coworker say these keywords: Pete, sick, fever,
       yesterday, trip, doctor’s office. I still do not know what he is talking
       about. Is he talking about taking his dog to the vet or his child to the

           Mentally ask, “What are you talking about?” throughout the entire

       Look at this example:

                 Fred: Yesterday, I took my baseball card collection down to get it
                 evaluated for value. This man said it was worth $400. I am not sure
                 if I will keep it or sell it.

           What is Fred Talking about? His baseball card collection.

           Mentally looking for the answer to this question will force you to
       listen. It will give you a good overview of what the other person is talking
       about. Let's look at the next question.

       Question #2: What are they saying about what they are talking about?
       So Fred is talking about his rock collection.

               What is Fred saying about his rock collection? Fred found out is
       card collection is worth $400 and he is unsure of whether to sell it or not.

               By mentally answering these two questions, you have a pretty good
       idea of what the other person is trying to communicate. As stated earlier
       you can reflect back some of what you decoded.


       Does this sound a little complex? It might, but don’t worry about it. Apply
the listening pause and then Choose to listen. Once you are choosing to listen,
Absolute attention will come naturally. Since your paying Attention it will be
easy to Reflect and Decode.

Let’s apply what we have learned.

       Mary: I took a trip to see my niece in Australia this summer and spent 12
       days in Sidney.

What is she talking about? Trip to see niece.

What is she saying about the trip? The trip was to Sidney and it took 12 days.

         You could Reflect or ask a variety of questions to really crank the
conversation up.

         Wow! A trip to Australia. What all did you do?
         What did you enjoy about Sidney?

Does this take work? Yes. However, the benefits will far outweigh the temporary
effort you have to put into listening.

Practical Application

         One of the key ingredients in marriage is communication. Listening is one
of the most important forms of communication. Apply the listing pause and listing
CARD in a marriage and you should see improvement in communication.

         A few months ago I was leading a small group of kids. One kid mentioned
that his parents almost never listened to him. If you have kids, make it a priority to
take time to listen and show interest.


         Good listening will create successful students and employees. This key
will double or triple your listening ability in the classroom. I have made countless
mistakes at work, simply because I had not listened to the instructions close
enough. If you have been embarrassed by not truly listening, this key will solve


        A good friend listens. As you listen and draw out what your friends are
saying, you will deepen friendships.


        Names are as slippery as Jell-O. Make it a point to listen and note the
name when meeting people. Listening will also be vital as you converse with

        The right card will win a card game. With the right CARD you will have
successful conversations. So don’t forget key #5:

Learn to listen with a listening pause and your listening C.A.R.D.

                                       Key #6

       The silent pause. It seems to strike conversations everywhere. Sometimes
it creeps in at the beginning. Other times it pounces several minutes in, leaving an
echoing silence. Either time it leaves people feeling uncomfortable and wanting to
end the conversation. Take this example:

       Rose: How are you doing?
       Sarah: Fine. We just got back from a vacation to Texas and I am pretty
       Rose: That’s interesting.
       Sarah: Yeah it was a lot of fun.
       Rose: Good.

       ....The Silent Pause Strikes.......

          This pause did not have to happen. This key will prevent and evaporate

Key #6: Give and Use Free Nuggets of Information.

          Free nuggets are pieces of information which the speaker throws out. Look
at Sarah’s first sentence:

          Sarah: “Fine. We just got back from a vacation to Texas and I am pretty

          The bold is free nuggets of information which Sarah has given. Rose
caused the silent pause by not using the free nuggets. She should have asked or
commented about the vacation, Texas, or Sarah being tired. This could have been
a great conversation.

          Observe how the conversation could have gone if she had used the free

          Rose: How are you doing?
          Sarah: Fine. We just got back from a vacation to Texas and I am pretty
          Rose: Texas! (Said with interest)
          Sarah: Yeah we went to the ocean and to Six Flags.
          Rose: Six flags! Wow! I have never been there. (Her voice and manner are
                    thick with interest.)
          Sarah: You don’t know what you are missing!
          Rose: Tell me about it. What is it like?

This is the start of an interesting conversation.

       By choosing to listen you are already catching free nuggets. You just have
to use them.

Using Free Nuggets

There are three ways to use free nuggets:

1. Repeat the nugget back.

       Notice how Sarah repeated the word “Texas” with interest. This caused
Sarah to give out some more free information. You will find that repeating a word
or phrase back to a person they will cause them to continue to talk about that
subject. This is powerful for continuing conversation.

2. Comment on the nugget.

       Rose said, “Six Flags! Wow! I have never been there!” This sparked more
conversation. Commenting shows interest and shows you are listening.

3. Ask a question (interest).

       Rose asked an open ended question about Six Flags. “Tell me about it.
What is it like?” The free nuggets resulting from this question will give her more
fuel for conversation.

       Just using a few nuggets will transform a dull, meaningless conversation
into something exciting! Try it and see the results. Just listen for free nuggets and
use them by showing interest.

Giving Free Nuggets

        Tennis requires two people hitting the ball back and forth. A
conversation which builds rapport and develops friendships must have both
people contributing.

        You should still listen more than you talk and focus on showing interest.
However, throw out some free nuggets about yourself. It will help build
friendships and evaporate pauses.
        Often when people discover the importance of listening and showing
interest they will focus too much on asking questions. They may feel guilty
talking, and thus never open up.

        This person may quickly answer a question and then ask another. Doing
this hinders conversation and is an obstacle in building good friendships. To build
friendships and keep conversations flowing, a person must throw out free nuggets.

        This is what will happen as you give free nuggets:

            It will give the other person something to ask about.
            Others will feel compelled to give more nuggets of information.
            Both parties will get know one another.
            It adds fuel to the conversation and keeps it going.

     Let me explain when and out how to give out free nuggets.

Give out Nuggets When Asked.

       Spike the one word answers to questions! Many people starve a
conversation by not giving good answers to questions. A fire cannot start without
fuel and a conversation cannot get going without the fuel of nuggets of

       When people ask me where I am from, I may say, “Wichita, KS - the air
capital of the world.” These free nuggets of information will allow the other
person to ask questions and get the conversation going.

Look at this conversation:

       You: Hello ____
       Fred: Hey! Good to see you. How are you doing?
       You: Fine. How about yourself.
       Fred: Could not be better.

       Silent Pause........................Conversation over...........

Look at this conversation with free nuggets.

       You: Hello ____
       Fred: Hey! Good to see you. How are you doing?
       You: Pretty good. Thanks for asking. I spent the afternoon studying for a
       test and talking with friends. How about yourself.
       Fred: Good. I spent the afternoon looking for a new car. (Notice how Fred
       is obligated to answer more.)

       Now you both have free nuggets of information to ask about. This
technique of giving and using free nuggets is powerful and will dynamically
enhance your conversations.

Volunteer Free Nuggets to Break Pauses

       Eventually subjects will run out and there is a pause in a conversation.
You need a spark to ignite the conversation. Again a free nugget will do that.
Anything will work:

           Story: Last week I saw this advertisement on...
           News item: I heard that taxes...
           Fun fact: I heard that 70% of all statistics are made up...
           Personal fact: I am planing to buy a new....

       Remember the acronym FORTH? This works great for thinking up free

       Family: My brother's wife just had a baby.
       Occupation: Yesterday at work, something really interesting happened.
       Recent events: I read in the paper about...
       Things: That's a nice shirt. Where did you get it from/
       Hobbies: I just picked up this new computer game...

       To be safe you could throw in a question after you share the nugget:

       I just bought this computer game which is really cool. It is called ___ and
       the object is to _____. (If no one says anything, ask a question.) What
       computer games do you enjoy?

       Recently I was talking with a few guys whom I am acquaintances with. A
lull in the conversation came up. Briefly, I mentioned about a neighbor who was
having problems with a beaver building a dam and blocking the overflow on his
pond. This little fact created another ten minutes of conversation.

       Hint: Prepare yourself before you go to social functions or meet people.
Read the newspaper or listen to the news. Think about some personal facts which
would be of interested to those you meet.

Use free nuggets to set up a question

Free nuggets work great to set up questions. Look at the following scenario:

       Mary: Hello
       Sarah: Hi Mary.
       Mary: I just got done studying for my English test tomorrow. I must have
       put in ten hours. Are you studying for any tests now? (Free nugget +
       Sarah: No. I have one next Thursday which could be pretty tough.
       Mary: How are you liking the class?

       Bang! The conversation is going. Notice three things. First, Mary gave out
free information about herself and then asked a question. Sarah felt obligated to
answer the question with more than one word because Mary gave out so many
free nuggets.

       Second, by Mary sharing first, it made the question flow smoothly in the
conversation. If she had asked right away if Sarah was studying for any tests it
could have been a little too forward depending on their relationship. Remember
this with strangers. Soften a question with a free nuggets.

       Third, if Sarah had said, “No.” Mary could have fallen back on her own
free nuggets and asked another question.

Look at this conversation:

       Marty: Hi Larry
       Larry: Hey Marty
       ...........The Silent Pause.........

       Marty just needs to add a few free nuggets.

       Marty: Hi Larry
       Larry: Hey Marty.
       Marty: I just got back from basketball practice. Are you going out for
       basketball. (Free information and a question. Double bonus!)

       Free nuggets will help release conversations and keep them flowing.

Are you a talker or a listener?

In conversation which do you feel more comfortable doing?

       A. Listening and ask questions.
       B. Talking.
       C. It does not matter.

       Good conversation requires a person to both talk and listen. Too much
listening may hinder friendships because we don't have time to share our

feelings,opinions, etc. (This is rarely a problem, but does happen) Too much
talking bores others. You need to learn to be more balanced.

         If you are a listener, remember that there will be times where you will have
to break out of your comfort zone and speak up. This could be answering a
question with a good answer or speaking up with a story.

         A talker may turn others off and hinder friendships because they are
always talking. This person needs to learn to deny themselves the pleasure of
always talking and learn to ask questions and listen.

Practical Application


         This key can be a great asset to a family. Often teenagers may not talk or
spouses do not want to communicate. Family disharmony or disunity can then
result. I heard about a study done over a decade ago. In this study wives stated that
the number one reason for divorcing their husbands was because the husbands did
not talk to them enough.


         Free information is great for starting conversation with people you know.
Something you did on the weekend, a news story, or anything is great to get
conversations going. Follow-up with a question to get things moving. Listening
for nuggets which will give you material for conversation.


       In college I discovered that the key to good friendships is to be open with
people. Give out information about yourself. Share your feelings, desires, goals,
etc. As a person does this, deeper friendships will develop. It is a great way to take
an acquaintance to another friendship level.


       With strangers a person does not want to get too personal with questions
as it may seem nosy. Instead give out information first, and then ask the question.
Answering your own question before you ask works excellent.

       “Hi, My name is Arlen. What is yours?”


        “I have two kids. Do you have any kids?”

You have just discovered:

       Key #6: Give and Use Free Nuggets of Information.

Memorize it and use it.

                                      Key #7

         Dead conversations. That’s what I call a conversation with no life. In a
dead conversation neither party is connecting. The conversation entirely revolves
around the weather or some other boring subject. Both people consider the subject
boring and would rather not be talking about it.

         Forced interest and forced listening are the only thing making a dead
conversation work. Both people feel uncomfortable and would like to exit. Being
in this conversation feels like having a roller skate on one foot and a slipper on the

         Boring, lifeless conversations will turn into dynamic, interesting
conversations with this next key. This key will add new life to conversations and
allow a person to easily make friends and deepen relationships.

Key #7: Find Connections, Go in those Directions

               I discovered this principle of finding connections in college. Just a
       few months ago, I came across an article by Chris Widener (shown
       below). Chris is not only a great author but also president of Made For
       Success. In the article he talks about this principle of finding connections
       and uses this phrase: “Find connections, go in those directions.” He
       kindly allowed me to use his phrase and include his article.

       Here is how the key works. You find something in common with the other
person and talk about it. Let me illustrate.

       I was talking to a young man who was a complete stranger. He mentioned
he was going to take some college classes at a local university. Connection! I was
taking a class at another local college. I went in that direction and we talked about
degrees, expense of college, etc. It was a great conversation.

What is a connection?

       A connection is a link or bond between two people. This link or bond is
something both people have in common or are interested in. It could be a:
           Similar interest in the stock market, cooking, sports, dogs, etc.
           Similar background.
           Similar knowledge about a subject.
           Same job.
           Something you both enjoy talking about.

       I was helping my dad put up a fence for an inner city ministry. A
gentlemen walked over and struck up a conversation. For a few seconds, we all

carried on small talk. Seconds before he was about to leave, I asked him where he
had lived before this city. He mentioned Michigan.

        Connection! My dad lived in Michigan for awhile. Immediately my dad
said that he lived in Michigan. He asked, “Have you heard of a little town called
___.” This stranger had! More connections. The conversation flowed smoothly
and effortlessly between dad and the stranger for the next 20 minutes. It
demonstrated the power of connections.

Finding Connections in Conversation

There are three ways to find a connection.

1. Listen

        You have the natural, automatic, ability to identify connections. As the
other person is talking, connections will leap out at you.

        Let's say Fred loves to ski. He is talking with a new co-worker. This co-
worker mention that he was out skiing this past weekend. Bingo! Fred
immediately recognizes the connection. He say, “Skiing! That is one of my
interests. How long have you been skiing?” After finding the connection, Fred
goes in that direction..

2. Ask Questions

        I know what I like to talk about and I know my interests. In conversation I
will ask a question to see if my partner is interested in what I am interested in.

       When I was selling rocks, I met the owner of a large company. Having just
started my own business, I was interested in how others started their businesses. I
asked, “How did you become the owner of this business?” Instant connection. He
was interested and began talking. It was a great conversation.

3. Throw out free information

       I was talking with a guy and a lull came up in the conversation. I told
about one of my experiences at college. Connection! He had a similar experience
also. We went off and talked about this subject for the next 15 minutes.

       By giving free information, You are throwing out a hook to see if they will
bite. If they are interested the topic you brought up, they will bite the hook and
talk about the topic.

       Connections can be found, just listen, ask questions and throw out free

Go in Those Directions

       The connection is found, now what? How does a person “go in those
directions.” I'll show you.

       OK. I am talking with Sarah. She mentions that she just saw a specific
interview on TV last night. I saw the same one. This is a potential connection. I
“go in that direction” by doing two things.

1. Pouncing

         When Sarah finishes speaking (and after a count of 3), I pounce on the
connection. I might say with enthusiasm, “I saw the same program also!” This
seals the connection and both of us understand that this is a common subject.

2. Asking

         To keep “going in that direction”, I will follow up with a question. It does
not have to be profound. “What did you think about it?” The conversation will
now continue in that direction.

A Connected Conversation
         Finding a connection energizes conversation. Two people feel like they are
beginning to know each other (Remember that principle about people liking those
who are like them?).

         A connection encourages both people to contribute to the conversation
because they are both interested in the topic. The difference between a
conversation with connections and a conversation without connections is the
difference between riding down the interstate and driving off road through the
Rocky Mountains.

         This key solves an often irritating problem in conversation -- boredom!
Instead of listening to the other person talk about something totally boring, a few
questions will allow you to find a connection and talk about something you both

         Just a week ago, I was at an acquaintance's house for lunch. After lunch
we got on the topic of health supplements and multivitamins. Connection! We
both were informed about the topic and enjoyed discussing it. The conversation
naturally flowed as we each through in our input.

The Powerful Results of this Key

Starting Interesting Conversations

        This key is excellent for starting interesting conversations. Chris Widener
has written an excellent article on this subject. He is kindly allowing me to
include it here.

     - By Chris Widener

     You know the situation: There you are at a business or social function
     and you end up with someone who you have never met before. Some
     people get amazingly uncomfortable with this situation because they
     simply don't know how to start or carry on a conversation. Yet
     successful people are always going to find themselves in these kinds
     of situations because they are always stretching themselves and
     putting themselves into situations to help them and their businesses
     grow and that means meeting new people. So if you are going to be
     successful, one thing you have to get down is how to talk to anybody,
     anytime. Good news: It is easier than you think!

     First, a couple of things not to do. One, don't get flustered and excuse
     yourself. That is the easy way out, and you never know if you didn't
     just leave who would have become your best friend or closest
     business associate. Stick around! Secondly, don't start talking about
     yourself. Sure, introduce yourself, but don't launch into a half-hour
     monologue about your accomplishments. The other person will either
     roll their eyes back into their head or simply give you a new nickname:

     Joe "let me tell you a story about myself" Schmoe. This leads me to
     the key.

     Talk about the person you have just met. Don't talk about yourself -
     talk about them! And the key is to ask questions. Now, there are
     obviously some people you just will not be able to talk to because they
     are absolute bores or they are angry or upset or something, but I have
     found that that is only about 1% of the people, if even that. For the
     most part, if you persist in asking
     questions, you will be able to talk to anybody, anytime.

     There are three segments to this process:

     Ask questions.
     Find connections.
     Go in those directions.

     What you are trying to do is to find common ground. What makes
     people afraid to talk to others is that they are afraid they won't have
     anything in common. I have found that usually, if you ask questions
     for a minute or two, you can always find a connection with someone,
     and then you're set. The worst that could happen is that you ask the
     person questions for a few minutes and find nothing. But what will that
     person tell others? That you seem to have a genuine interest in
     others. That is a great reputation to have!

     That is another key here. You can't be a selfish, arrogant person and
     be successful. I am talking true well-rounded success, not just
     collecting a pot full of money.

     The best way to describe this process is to write out a mock

     conversation. You will notice the kinds of questions I would ask, when
     I find a connection, and how I would go in that direction.

     "Hi, I'm Chris Widener. What is your name?"

     "Joe Schmoe."

     "Well, Joe, what do you do for a living?"

     "I sell insurance." (Possible connection here. Everybody has

     "Oh yeah? What kind of insurance?"

     "I insure Oil rigs in the Adriatic Sea." (Whoops. Lost connection)

     "Wow. That's must be fascinating. Married or kids, Joe?" (I have a
     wife and kids, maybe we can show pictures)

     "No, actually, I'm single." (It isn't looking good yet)

     "So, who do you know here at the party?"

     "Well, nobody. I am the brother of the host's accountant. I'm in town
     for a week and my brother had to make an appearance." (It is going in
     the wrong direction here)

     "So where are you from?"

     "Nebraska." (Bingo, there it is. The connection! Now let's go in that


     "Really? My dad was from Nebraska. Even though he died when I was
     four, my grandmother used to take me back to visit my relatives every
     summer growing up. It sure was a lot of fun. Were you city folk, or did
     you live on a farm?"

     "I grew up on a pig farm."

     "That's what my relatives did! As a kid I always wanted to ride one of
     those sows. Luckily my uncles never let me attempt it."

     There you are. Now just start asking questions about what they did
     growing up, how they liked it etc..

     If you get adept enough at asking questions of others, you will
     inevitably find a connection to talk about. And having something in
     common with someone is the start to a long and mutually beneficial
     relationship - one of the foundations of success!

     I am in a career where I meet new people all the time and this is
     exactly what I do. I am no better conversationalist than most of you. It
     is just a proven way of getting a relationship off the ground with
     someone you have just met.

     Here it is again: Ask questions, find connections, go in those


     Chris Widener is a popular speaker and writer as well as the
     President of Made for Success, a company helping individuals and
     organizations turn their potential into performance, succeed in every
     area of their lives and achieve their dreams. To order Chris's audio
     series, Extraordinary Leaders Seminar go to

Having Great Group Conversations

        Whether it is a family around a table, coworkers around a coffee machine,
or a group of people at a party, interesting and enjoyable conversation is a must.

        You can use this key to create conversation that is of interest to all or
most. How? Find a connection between most everybody. This could be a topic
that most everyone is interested in.

Most everyone likes to talk about:

           Interesting facts
           Any topic in which every is informed about it.

        Ask a question or bring up a topic. If no one is interested, then you know
that it is a dead connection. Try again.

Using this key to build and develop friendships

         Making friends is as simple as finding connections or common interest.
These can be hobbies, opinions, feelings toward something, similar interests, etc.

         Once the connections are found, strengthen them. Spend time together
talking or doing these connections. Time will reveal more connections. More
connections will help build a better friendship.

Practical Application

         After living together you should have many connections with each other.
Practice “going in those directions”. Talk about them. Keep building new ones.

Finding connections with others in the business world will lead to success.


         Work on finding new connections and strengthening old connections with
your friends. It takes time, but the results are worth it.


         This key is excellent for getting a conversation going. The fact you and the
stranger are at the same place is a connection. Go in that direction and find new

        A conversation which is revolving around connections, is a very enjoyable
experience. Both parties are talking and listening. Everyone is having a good time.
You can have a connected conversation by following key #7:

Find Connections, Go in Those Directions

     Using the 7 Keys to Unlock Your Ability to Conquer
     Shyness, Make Friends, and Confidently Talk with

        You know the 7 keys. For you to be successful in conversation, you need
to use them and know how to use them. In this section I will try and tie all the
keys together and show how to use them in conversation. First, let's review the

        Key #1: Be warm and friendly by smiling, being enthused, and regarding
        the other person as important.
        Key #2: P.R.E.S.S yourself to act, look and feel confident.
        Key #3: Take the initiative to start conversations with the 2-step method.
        Key #4: Be interested in people as you go F.O.R.T.H. into conversation.
        Key #5: Learn to listen with a listening pause and your listening C.A.R.D.
        Key #6: Give and use free nuggets of information.
        Key #7: Find connections, go in those directions.

A delicious meal and a successful conversation

        Whenever I sit down to eat a meal, I usually have a plate, a cup of drink, a
spoon, a knife, and a fork. I usually start the meal by putting food on my plate.
Then I continue to eat by using a fork, spoon, knife, and cup of drink (You might
be wondering where I am going with this!).

Using the 7 keys in conversation is similar to eating a delicious meal.

Eating a Delicious Meal                     Enjoying a Successful Conversation
We use a plate throughout the meal.         We use key #1 and #2 throughout the
We start a meal by putting food on our      We start a conversation with key #3
We use a fork, knife, and spoon to eat      We use key #4, #5, #6 to keep the
the delicious meal.                         conversation flowing.
We take a drink now and then to add         We use key #7 to find connections and
enjoyment to the meal.                      keep the conversation interesting.
The plate, fork, knife, plate, spoon,       The 7 keys are used throughout the
and cup are all used during the meal. conversation.

         We start a meal with a plate and use the plate the entire meal. In similar
fashion we enter a conversation using the first two keys and use them the entire

         Key #1: Be warm and friendly by smiling, being enthused, and regarding
         the other person as important.

         Key #2: PRESS yourself to act, look and feel confident.

         Before we can start eating, we must put food on our plate. Before we can
have a conversation, we must start it. This is where key #3 comes in.

         Key #3: Take the initiative to start conversations with the 2-step method.

        During a course of the meal, we will use a fork, knife, and spoon at
different times to enjoy the meal. In conversation we use the next three keys at
different times to keep the conversation rolling.

        Key #4: Be interested in people as you go F.O.R.T.H. into conversation.
        Key #5: Learn to listen with a listening pause and your listening C.A.R.D.
        Key #6: Give and use free nuggets of information.

        At times we will be using the fork of interest. Other times we will be using
the spoon of listening. When appropriate we while use the knife by giving and
using free nuggets of information.

        During a meal there are select times when we take a sip of drink to help
wash our meal down. During conversation there are times when we want to find a
connection to make the conversation enjoyable. Here we use key #7.

        Key #7: Find connections, go in those directions.

        Illustration's are not perfect. However, I hope you see how the 7 keys are
all used throughout a conversation. It's time to leave the food (it was delicious!)
and go to a real life illustration.

        In this case I am going to have a scenario where you are at work enjoying a
break. On the other side of the room is Matt. I will show you how to use the 7
keys to confidently carry on a conversation with Matt. Realize that this scenario
could applied to talking with a complete stranger, family member, class mate,etc.

Using the 7 keys with Matt

       You are standing beside the coffee machine. There are a few minutes left
before you have to get back to work. You notice Matt by himself, and decide that
it would be interesting to talk with him. You apply key #1 and key #2:

       Key #1: Be warm and friendly by smiling, being enthused, and regarding
       the other person as important.

       Key #2: P.R.E.S.S yourself to look, act, and feel confident.

       Both these keys will give you a confidence and a friendly manner. You
will use both of these keys throughout the conversation.

       Next you use key #3 and approach Matt and start the conversation.

       Key #3: Take the initiative to start conversations with the 2-step method.

       You don't wait for him to come you. Instead you take the initiative and use
the two step method to start the conversation. As you do this, key #1 and #2 are
giving you confidence and a warm friendly personality.

       You: Hello Matt. (You break the silence.)
       Matt: Hi.
       You: How was your weekend?
               (You ask a question. Here you used key #4 to show interest by
               asking about a Recent event.)

       Now you are going to use the four keys continually to keep the
conversation flowing.

       Key #4: Be interested in people as you go F.O.R.T.H. into conversation.

     Key #5: Learn to listen with a listening pause and your listening C.A.R.D.
     Key #6: Give and use free nuggets of information.
     Key #7: Find connections, go in those directions.

     Matt: It was pretty busy. I watched some football and helped a friend
             (You are listening with Key #5)

     You: I helped a neighbor move once. He had to make four trips with a
     pickup trucks to haul all his stuff!
             (With this statement you have done two things. One, you have used
             key #6 and given free nuggets of information. Two, you have used
             key #7 and possibly found a connection.)

     You (continued): How much stuff did your friend have?
             (Here you have shown interest with key #4, used free nuggets with
             key #6, and gone in the direction of your connection with key #7.)

     Matt: It filled up my pickup.
             (Oops! By the sound of his voice, you can tell that this
             conversation direction has died. Obviously, this is not a good
             connection. It is time to switch topics.)

     You: Well, that is not too much stuff. I have noticed your pickup in the
     parking lot. What year is it?
             (You used free nuggets [key #6] and showed interest [key #4]).
     Matt: It is a 98 model. I bought it at ____ for _____.
             (Matt's voice shows that he is interested in this subject.)

     You: I see. What made you decide to buy this particular pickup.

                  (You are regarding what he says as important and you are enthused
                  to listen to him [Key #1]. Your voice drips with interest as you ask
                  this question about what he said. [Key #4 and #6] You are really
                  interested in hearing this, so you have found a connection and are
                  going in that direction. [Key #7])

        ...A few minutes pass...

        You: Well, it looks like it is time for me to get back to work. Thanks for
        telling me about your truck.
                  (You use the 2-Step Method to end the conversation.)

The conversation ends on a good note. You have just:

               Confidently talked with Matt
               Engaged in interesting and enjoyable conversation
               Left a good impression
               Been a person with whom Matt enjoyed talking with
               Developed a better relationship and started a friendship with Matt
               Conquered shyness and experienced freedom from its power.

        In this conversation you have just accomplished the five goals which this
book was written for. Success! Now you know the 7 keys and how to use them.
Next I will show you how to unleash the power of the 7 keys.

But first...

        If it still seems overwhelming to use all seven key, try this tip at first.
During the conversation focus on using key #6:

       Key #6: Give and use free nuggets of information.

       By using key #6 you automatically have to use two other keys. You have
to listen (key #5) and show interest (key #4). With these mastered you can branch
out and use the others.

                   Unleashing the Power of the 7 Keys

       Some say knowledge is power. I disagree. All the knowledge in the world
will do about as much good for a person as a laptop computer will for a kitten.
Applied knowledge is power!

       The 7 keys are like a jet preparing for takeoff. You can choose to release
the brakes by using the 7 keys. Their power will rocket you to new heights in
conversation and will unlock your ability to:

       Confidently start and carry on conversations with almost anyone,
       Engage in interesting and enjoyable conversation.
       Leave a positive impression.
       Become a person with whom people enjoy talking with and being around.
       Easily make friends and build relationships.
       Conquer shyness and experience freedom from its power.

Here are three tips for unleashing the power of the 7 keys.

1. Understand the Formula for Success

To be a success at anything a person usually must follow this formula:

        Knowledge + Practice + Time = Success

        So far you have accomplished the first part of the formula. You possess
the knowledge of the 7 keys. Next you need to practice or use them. Practice will
make you perfect. As time passes you will become more and more successful at
starting and engaging in interesting conversations.

2. Understand the Secret to Reaching Goals

        Place two marbles on the ground. Now go get an elephant and a lady with
a high heal shoe. Have the elephant place one foot on one marble and have it rest
its weight. Next, have the lady place the point of her high heal on the second

        Fact: The elephant and the lady are placing the same amount of pressure
        on each marble.

          Why? The lady's heal has funneled her weight down to a tiny point. This
force is equal to the wide foot of the several ton elephant. It illustrates the secret
to getting our goals accomplished.

        Focused Energy + Time = Goals Accomplished

        When we put our efforts and energy into reaching a specific goal, we are
creating a funnel of force which allows us to our goal.

3. Use 14 Days to Unleash the Power of 7 Keys

       You know the formula to success and the secret to reaching your goals. I
have developed a 14 day plan which uses both the formula and the secret. Follow
the 14 day plan and you will be using the 7 keys and experiencing their power.

Here is the 14 day plan.

Day 1-3: Focus on using key #1 and key #2. Smile as you talk and meet people.

       Key #1: Be warm and friendly by smiling, being enthused, and regarding
       the other person as important.
       Key #2: P.R.E.S.S Yourself to Look, Act, and Feel Confident.

Day 4-7: Each day use key #3 to start conversations with five different people.
Also use key #4 to show interest and ask good questions.

       Key #3: Take the initiative to start conversations with the 2-step method.
       Key# 4: Be interested in people as you go F.O.R.T.H. into conversation.

Day 8-10: Each morning flip on the radio or TV for a couple minutes. Practice
using key #5 with your listening CARD. Use the key #5 throughout the day as you
talk with people and use the other four keys.

       Key #5: Learn to listen with a listening pause and your listening C.A.R.D.

Day 11-14: Here is when your conversation skills will really take off. Continue to
use the other 5 keys. Now start using key #6 and key #7. Find five people and
make a connection with them.

         Key #6: Give and use free nuggets of information.
         Key #7: Find connections, go in those directions.

         After 14 days you will have gone a long way in applying the 7 keys. You
will be seeing results. With each conversation you apply the 7 keys, you will get
better and better. You will experience the power of the 7 keys and the results they

         You know the info. Now apply it and you will experience the results.

  Philippians 2:3b,4. NAS
  Nicolas Gueguen; Celine Jacob, “Direct look versus evasive glance and compliance with a request.”
The Journal of Social Psychology 142, (June, 2002): 393.
  Proverbs 10:19; 17:27

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