Welcome to our book review series, a look at the books we’ve been reading from the Key 3 Media shelf.

In my first book review, I shared with you my pet peeve about book titles that begin with “How to”. I must be a sucker for punishment, because after reviewing How to Win Friends and Influence People I’m back with another!

As per Andy’s recommendation I decided to give a book by Nicholas Boothman a shot to see if it could help change my mind on self-help literature.

First impressions

How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less is “Dale Carnegie for the rushed era” (John Tierney, The NY Times). The author even mentions Carnegie as being a spiritual predecessor to his work. My first impression is that these are lessons taken from Boothman’s own experiences as a photographer with more buzz-wordy names. But is it better for being rushed?

The techniques

In the book Boothman outlines four basic areas which will help you to achieve exactly what the title boasts. These are: attitude, synchronization, conversation and sensory preferences.

You’ve probably heard a variation of them before. For instance, approaching people with your arms uncrossed (presenting your heart to them), or reflecting their tone and body language to make them like you. These are practices which have been scientifically proven to work and are certainly worth revisiting in Boothman’s chapters. He has a bright, breezy and imaginative way of writing which makes it easy to digest and understand.

What works and what doesn’t

There is a slightly dodgy section on how to tell if someone is a Visual, Auditory or Kinesthetic personality and how to best speak to each of them (he calls these sensory preferences). It explains how to tell these types apart and why you should use particular words when speaking to them to better communicate.

For example, Boothman claims that if someone regularly says “a sight for sore eyes”, “I see what you’re saying” or “see you later” they are a Visual, rather than an Auditory or Kinesthetic personality. That apparently means you should talk to them in equally visual terminology, like “you have an eye for detail” when praising them. Or “picture this scenario” when asking them to do something. See what I mean?

It’s a bit of a reach, and there’s zero research provided to show it works except Boothman’s own word on the matter. However, the other three thirds of the book hold up in practice, and for those who like guidance on the practical application of such ideas there is even a workbook at the back.

Has it helped?

I can tend to be a cynic, especially with books that claim to utterly transform some aspect of your life in just 90 seconds. However, the point of How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less is that the hard work is still yours to do. Boothman has simplified the principles, but it’s easier said than done. Or easier read than done.

So I’ve been putting an effort in to using Boothman’s little tricks. Open body language, matching vocal tone and movements in a meeting… it’s instinctive for some, but can be learned through practice if it doesn’t come naturally. Be careful, though – think too hard about it and you’ll miss the conversation; be too obvious and you’ll make the other person deeply uncomfortable.

All-in-all I think this book is particularly useful for networking and will recommend that the rest of the team read it for when they’re out and about.

Crikey, is that two how-to books I’ve enjoyed in a row? I think I need to go and lie down…

Until next time!

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