Captivate: the science of succeeding with people by Vanessa Van Edwards

“Don’t impress people; engage them.”

This is a note to self. It comes up over and over again in every book about interpersonal communication. People want to hear about themselves, not you. The quickest way for them to open up and like you is is to LISTEN.

Which, coincidentally Vanessa had to do when she took a vow of silence. She interacted without speaking a word and her interlocutors found these to be the most rewarding conversations!

Recently I have been on an interpersonal skills binge. I was about to get married and wanted to use the time I had with my guests to the fullest extent. I diligently reviewed my “Interacting with people” notes (true story, I have a whole chapter in my personal life manual devoted to that). Searching for new tips, I have also read the book “How to talk to anyone” by Leil Lowlands.

I was ready to read about another topic, but when they announced our keynote speakers for our company meeting, I had to change my plans.

Vanessa Van Edwards, author of the book “Captivate” would share her secrets with us. I just had to browse her book to take the full advantage of the learning opportunity.

And I am so glad I did!

Her work is packed with insights and practical tips to use during your next gathering with friends or negotiating a salary (curious how this plays out for the company after teaching us these skills). She has a vault of hilarious stories that let you understand the context better and explains everything with a solid structure. 

Body Language AKA Gesture a lot but not too much

“The most popular TED Talkers used an average of 465 hand gestures—that’s almost double [… of the lesser popular]

example

What are the best ways to use body language to your great advantage?

  • Wave with an open palm if you are talking to an audience. Showing that you don’t hold weapons will build help build trust (even though it’s 2019, we’re still apes)
  • Delineate things you are explaining
    • Numbers -> Illustrate the numbers with your fingers
    • Size -> delineate the size with your hands
    • When it’s somebody’s turn – hand it off -> pass it back
    • This comes from the heart -> show 
  • Master your handshake!

If you have the opportunity to give a great handshake, never skip it! It’s your chance to hook the other party on some oxytocin!

ALWAYS VERTICAL HAND, firm but not too strong

Having great conversations

  • Set a good intention for the conversation -> Avoid starting on the negative!
  • Good conversation is about finding a common thread and following it
  • Ending conversation
    • What are you up to [next] -> shifts conversation to future
    • Best of luck on that!
  • Prepare some good, twisty questions that will let you fish for a topic where the other person lights up
    • Working on exciting projects lately?
    • What’s your story?
    • Howdy > „Hey”
    • What was the highlight of your day?
    • Anything except “where are you from” and “what do you do.”

Assorted awesome tips

  • At the party, the best place to be is where people exit the bar/food place. They have no-one to talk to
  • “For example, whenever I meet a Matt, I always seat him at a poker table with all of my other Matt friends.”
  • You can’t argue with a feeling, but you can acknowledge it.
  • Prepare raving introductions for people.

Hacks for online

I dream of creating a course where I would teach interpersonal communication in the online world – on Slacks and Twitters, etc.,

  • You can use Linkedin profile pic under the camera to watch them / have a feeling I am speaking with them
  • Exciting calendar titles -> call the event with what you hope it to be (creative brainstorming, etc.)
  • Show hands during zoom calls
  • Master your profile picture
    • The only indicator of true happiness is the upward cheeks (“crows feet”)
    • Watch out for smirk [half smile is cynical]
    • Make selfies from below -> makes you look tall and grand, looking from above like a parent

My Kindle highlights (there is a lot of them)

  • The Start Zone is the starting point at all events. Emotionally, it’s the place where nerves are running highest. When people have just arrived, they’re usually juggling lots of thoughts. They are running late, checking in, taking off their coats, surveying the room, seeing if they know anyone, worrying about first impressions, silencing their phones,
  • The biggest mistake I see at events is when people hover at the boundary of the Start Zone. It’s a social trap. You’re catching people at a confidence low.
  • The second Side Zone trap is making a beeline for the food and then floating around it all night.
  • The third Side Zone trap is immediately going to people you know. Once you join up with your colleagues, friends, or acquaintances, it is incredibly challenging to get out and meet new people.
  • You become their savior if you rescue them from drinking alone.
  • “Thank you so much for having me! This looks like a great group. Anyone I should meet?”
  • Your Winger: Did anyone come up more than once? Is there someone who could join you on a social adventure, who could help you be more comfortable as you try out social hacks,
  • By controlling where, how, and with whom your interactions take place, you can set yourself up for more success.
  • Note: Is online world where introverts can finally have a leg up?
  • Identify the person who you want to “level up”—your Riser. Keep them in mind while you apply the next 13 hacks.
  • We decide if we believe someone, if we like someone, and if we trust someone before we have even heard him or her speak.
  • The power of our first impression lies not in what we say, but how we say it.
  • With a first impression, you are a Triple Threat when you use your hands, your posture, and your eye contact.
  • Note: Triple threat for nonline. Are emojis giving the same effect?
  • genuine smile emoji
  • The least popular TED Talkers used an average of 272 hand gestures—yes, our coders painstakingly counted every single one. The most popular TED Talkers used an average of 465 hand gestures—that’s almost double! Temple Grandin, Simon Sinek, and Jane McGonigal topped the hand gesture charts with over 600 gestures in just eighteen minutes. This
  • I don’t mean to get drastic, but pockets are murderers of rapport.
  • Whenever possible, keep your hands above the desk in a boardroom, on the table during a coffee meeting, and out of your purse during an event.
  • Note: Zoom call hands!
  • Vertical: Always keep your hand vertical with your thumb toward the sky. Offering your palm up is a nonverbal submissive or weak gesture. And forcing someone into the palm-up position by putting your hand out palm down can be seen as domineering and controlling.
  • Bottom Line: Keep your hands visible. Never skip a handshake.
  • According to a major study done by Carnegie Mellon University,8 a professional’s confidence is more important than that professional’s reputation, skill set, or history!
  • Viral TED Talkers speak to you, not at you.
  • courage to trust another being.”11 Why is eye contact so powerful? It produces oxytocin, the chemical foundation for trust.
  • when Westerners and Europeans are in conversation, they tend to hold eye contact for an average of 61 percent
  • Don’t guess on your handshake. Do a handshake audit with a trusted friend or colleague—ask for honest feedback to make sure your grip is just right.
  • Use your Launch Stance during your next interaction—feel the difference?
  • Practice engaging in 60 to 70 percent eye contact during your interactions.
  • I want to introduce the concept of Big Talk. Big Talk is like Space Mountain. You start with anticipation and roll easily through the conversation, laughing and hitting highs as it gets better and better.
  • If we abandon social scripts and push ourselves to use conversational sparks, we are more likely to enjoy our interactions and remember what was actually said. In
  • “What personal passion project are you working on?”
  • Working on any exciting projects recently?
  • What was the highlight of your day?
  • Working on any personal passion projects?
  • Have any vacations coming up?
  • What’s your story?
  • What are you up to this weekend?
  • What do you do to unwind?
  • men who begin their online dating messages with “howdy” have a 40 percent higher success rate than singles who open with “hey” or “hi.”
  • “I’m on a small-talk diet, can I ask you a new conversation sparker I’m trying out?” This question in itself releases dopamine!
  • One of the ways you can create conversational high points is by looking for someone’s hot-button issues.
  • Begins nodding their head up and down as if to say, “Yes!” Murmurs in agreement with “Mmm-hmm” Leans in to hear more
  • Writes back a longer e-mail than usual Exclaims in surprise with “Huh!” or “Wow!” Tells you, “Fascinating!” “Interesting,” or “Tell me more!” Raises their eyebrows—this is the universal signal of curiosity Says, “Ooohh” or “Aahh” Smiles and uses more animated gestures
  • In other words, being different wakes people up.
  • Entrepreneurs who added a unique request, tried something a little different, or added interactivity to their pitch had a much higher likelihood of getting a deal.
  • In my guest bathroom at home, we have an R2D2 Pez dispenser and a gift book welcoming snoopers to our medicine cabinet.
  • I send people air plants instead of flowers.
  • I hide Easter eggs on my website (these are hidden links that once clicked deliver people to a video of me telling a corny joke).
  • Think about how you can energize different areas of your life. This creates tons of dopamine-worthy moments for the people you encounter.
  • Spice up your job title.
  • When I checked into San Diego’s famous L’Auberge Del Mar hotel, I was given a room key and a s’mores cupcake—talk about a welcome gift! My elevator ride and first few hotel moments were sweet bliss.
  • Instead of sending thank-you cards, send thank-you stickers—or pins, or lollipops, or popcorn.
  • Meet and Repeat: As soon as you hear the name, say it out loud back to them. “It’s so nice to meet you, Eliza!”
  • Spell It Out:
  • Associate and Anchor: Lastly, tie the name to someone else you know with that same name. It can even be a celebrity.
  • For example, whenever I meet a Matt, I always seat him at a poker table with all of my other Matt friends.
  • If you totally forget a name, set up a system with the people you are with. Anytime you introduce someone to them first, they should ask for the name. For example, if my husband says, “I would love to introduce you to my wife,” and does not mention the person’s name, it means he does not know it. Then I know to ask, “Lovely to meet you. What was your name?” Easy peasy. A
  • Bonus: Send me a text to say “hi.” If you’re really brave, ask me for a “social dare.”
  • The whole adventure started the day my kind, honest friend dropped an advice bomb. She gave me one of the toughest pieces of constructive feedback I have ever received: “You are an interrupter.”
  • Worse, I began to preplan my responses while only half listening to the conversation. This is a terrible way to interact—it’s disrespectful, inauthentic, and exhausting for all parties.
  • I forced myself to attend all of my usual meetings, networking events, and dinners like normal, but just listened. This way, I had to be present. I couldn’t think about witty comebacks, funny stories, or follow-ups. My number one goal was simply to listen with my entire brain.
  • the best conversations aren’t about what you say, they are about what you hear.
  • This e-mail boggled my mind! I hadn’t said a single word, but somehow our “conversation” was so memorable that it brought me business. Why?
  • As much as we hate to admit it, we love to talk about ourselves. In fact, humans spend 30 to 40 percent of their verbal output solely dedicated to self-disclosure.
  • Talking about ourselves gives us pleasure.
  • Yup—people will pay for the privilege to express their opinions.
  • Bring out the best in people by highlighting their strengths.
  • Humans love to be given positive labels.
  • Listen for their eloquent ideas. Find ways to emphasize their strengths. Celebrate their excitement.
  • “You are so knowledgeable in this subject—thank goodness you are here.”
  • I send out postcards telling people they’re ballers. Yes, really:
  • Want to know one of the biggest missed opportunities in social situations? Introductions.
  • Why are raving introductions so powerful? First, you give people positive labels right at the start. Second, you tee up a great conversation and possible discussion topics for the people involved. Third, you get people talking about themselves—what
  • Don’t try to impress people, let them impress you.
  • Being an amazing listener is not just about what you hear, it’s how you respond to what you hear.
  • Introduce a colleague or friend to someone you think they should know. Practice making two raving introductions.
  • Who impresses you? Who is an amazing friend? Who is the best networker you know? Go tell them.
  • Bonus: Take a one-day Vow of Silence to be a better listener.
  • Be the high point of every interaction by giving people
  • He found that his most successful messages mentioned at least three commonalities he had with the person.
  • Hi Vanessa! My name is Lewis and I wanted to reach out because I saw you’re also friends with Nick Onken, we do work with Pencils of Promise together. I’m based in LA and saw you’re from here. Do you ever get back in town? Would love to connect.
  • “I show people I’m listening to them and only them. I make eye contact, take them in, and pay attention to nothing else,”
  • It is easier to get along with someone who enjoys the same activities and conversation topics. Spouses and friends are more likely to have similar personality types than randomly assigned pairs.
  • When someone agrees with us, it makes us feel less alone and more right in our own opinions.
  • If we can relate to someone strongly, we might be able to better predict their behavior and future
  • We hope that if someone is similar to us, then there is a greater likelihood they will be attracted to us—like begets like.
  • These kinds of “Not me!” comments tend to push people away and shut down a conversation.
  • Someone dressed casually is more likely to help someone else who is also dressed casually over someone in a business suit.
  • Find and follow threads of similarity to be more socially attractive.
  • Think about the context of your meeting.
  • Note: Are conference talks all aboit gving shared context?
  • you can get a conversation to go much deeper much faster if you use the spirit of the Five Whys.
  • Just search for the commonality and follow the thread with why.
  • Can I help you with anything? This is my favorite Thread Theory question.
  • when he can’t say “Me too,” he says, “Teach me.”
  • If someone mentions something that you don’t know about or are unfamiliar with, ask for more information. “Teach me?” is still a thread!
  • I have never heard of that book—what is it about?
  • “Me too!” and “Teach me?” are two of the most powerful and underutilized phrases we have. Use them whenever possible.
  • If you thought your average eye contact was below 60 percent, then reading microexpressions is an easy way to incentivize more gazing.
  • Online microexpressions
  • Lowered eyebrows that are pinched together Two vertical creases in between the eyebrows Tensing of the lower eyelids Tightening of the lips—either pressed firmly together or in a position to yell
  • The easiest way to tell the difference between fear and surprise is the shape of the eyebrows. Fear is marked by flat eyebrows with horizontal lines across the forehead. In surprise, the eyebrows are rounded like upside-down Us.
  • Explore—where is the anger coming from and how can you oust it? Stay Calm—not offensive or defensive. Explain—what information can you give them to feel less threatened?
  • As you try to finish making dinner, you say to your partner, “Tell me the good news as you set the table.” Your partner is a little deflated. He still shares the news, but doesn’t feel nearly as excited as he did when he came home. You have a normal dinner.
  • “Tell me! Tell me! Let me turn this heat down so you can tell me everything,” you exclaim. He shares his major win at work while you put a cork in your wine and throw a bottle of champagne into the fridge. “We have to celebrate,” you say. Dinner takes a little bit longer, but you get to clink glasses and ride the high of his work win together.
  • Address—what’s the threat? What is the source of discomfort? Soothe—how can you make it safer? Comfort—can you reassure, re-evaluate, or remove the threat?
  • If you notice someone make a squelched expression, be sure to dig deeper to find the source of the disguise.
  • What does your digital microexpression say?
  • On the other hand, when you have an expression on your face, you also feel that emotion.
  • Always look for the seven microexpressions as you listen.
  • trying to figure out if he was high open (likes trying new things), I asked about his most recent vacations and then his career path. This led to a great rapport, and, eventually, his asking me to grab lunch “to continue this great conversation.”
  • Lows tend to let the laundry go until they’re down to the last pair of underwear. A low might not notice a messy desk covered with stacks of papers and unopened mail.
  • Lows typically think about what’s going right instead of what’s going wrong. So they have a harder time commiserating about stress and being busy.*
  • We are most accurate at speed-guessing extroversion, conscientiousness, and agreeableness—try to go with your first impression when assessing people in these areas.9 Openness
  • If you’re pitching a low open person, lead by describing what you’re not changing. Then present a rational, evidence-based case for your new idea to help them overcome their apprehension about trying something new.
  • A high neurotic likes to hear that you’re worrying about everything for him.
  • Don’t be surprised if the important people in your life have similar matrices.
  • Don’t impose your personality traits on others.
  • 5 Love Languages.
    • Words of Affirmation:
    • Gifts:
    • Physical Touch:
    • Acts of Service:
    • Quality Time:
  • If your language is Quality Time, you know that long-distance relationships or working virtually might not be a good choice for you.
  • For example, if you are low open and your primary appreciation language is Quality Time, you would be better off asking a colleague to a monthly coffee date at your favorite place.
  • What’s the nicest thing someone has ever done for you?
  • How do you celebrate your successes?
  • I really want to do something nice for our colleague who just had a new baby. What do you think we should do for them?
  • What’s your favorite thing to do on the weekends?
  • Words of Affirmation Professional: Write check-in e-mails Create positive feedback reports Do daily or weekly check-in meetings Offer to write recommendation letters Give public praise
  • Gifts Professional: Birthday gifts Holiday gifts Desk trinkets Thank-you gifts Gift baskets or boxes
  • Birthday cards especially for nwords nof affirmation folk
  • Romantic: Holding hands Cuddling Bow-chic-a-wow-wow Massages
  • Romantic: Phone-free time Weekly dates Trips Car rides Example
  • Don’t invite Quality Time people to do boring activities. Forget coffee—ask them to go on a hike or to a grilled cheese shop. My friend Stephen Scott is a triathlete, and he asks people to go on walks or runs in lieu of the typical lunch. Have
  • physical touch partner or friend? Learn how to give massages or do reflexology.
  • What is one way I can show you more appreciation?
  • Londolozi, one of the best luxury safari camps in South Africa,
  • we give what we most want. We might crave Love, so we give it to everyone around us—even if they don’t deserve it.
  • HACK #9: Primary Value The underlying motivation that drives a person’s decisions, actions, and desires.
  • Foa and his team argue that we often try to seek from others what we have been denied earlier in life.
  • If someone has low self-esteem, they are more likely to seek the Status resource from others.
  • Information I like to be in the know. I like to give advice. I enjoy teaching and learning.
  • Most people’s choices make sense to them. When they don’t make sense to you, it’s usually because you are being driven by a different primary value.
  • Do you need to motivate someone at work? Tap into what they value.
  • Do you need to understand a partner’s baffling choice? Figure out how it met their value needs.
  • Complaints and Brags:
  • Worries: What keeps someone up at night? What do they stress out about?
  • Primary Value: Love Feel Worthy When: They are included They feel liked Someone appreciates them
  • Primary Value: Service Feel Worthy When: They don’t have to ask for help Someone is assisting them with tasks or chores Someone does a favor for them
  • Primary Value: Status Feel Worthy When: They are praised They are given power or credit Their accomplishments are recognized
  • Primary Value: Money Feel Worthy When: They have a “full” bank account They can afford what they desire They are earning money
  • Primary Value: Goods Feel Worthy When: They have a comfortable home or office They have lots of assets They are surrounded by tokens or objects from their past
  • Primary Value: Information Feel Worthy When: They are in the know They are told information first They are asked to give an opinion
  • The Story Stack Share, tell, and hunt for captivating stories to capture imagination and attention.
  • Trigger Topic: You know how the same
  • Sparking Stories:
  • Boomerang:
  • Start with a Hook:
  • Champion a Struggle:
  • When we give up control, we gift power. I call this hack: Own It! HACK #11: Own It! Empower people by giving them buy-in, control, and ownership.
  • Leading people is about communicating a mission and then letting them take part in it.
  • easy trick for you: Always use the word “because” when asking for something.
  • To do this, use what I call Skill Solicitation. Skill Solicitation is when you ask people to self-identify based on capability:
  • Eventually he began posting them on his blog, which he calls PostSecret. Over the course of a few years, the blog went viral.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for advice, share a vulnerability, or admit a weakness—they bond you to people.
  • Asking for advice softly admits a vulnerability.
  • Don’t miss casual opportunities for favors. When I go to someone’s home, I always accept a glass of water when offered.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for casual advice.
  • We tend to be defensive when someone offers unsolicited advice. However, this is actually an opportunity! This is an unsolicited opportunity to harness the power of the Franklin Effect.
  • Don’t underestimate the basics, either: Always send a thank-you card.
  • First, prevent good people from becoming difficult. Second, stop difficult people from being impossible.
  • Downers
  • Show-Offs
  • Passives
  • Tanks
  • “Emotional systems tend to monopolize brain resources. It’s much easier for an emotion to control a thought than for a thought to control an emotion,” explained LeDoux.5
  • HACK #13: The NUT Job When dealing with difficult people, name the emotion, understand the feeling, and transform the fear.
  • What is this person afraid of?
  • Typically, when someone is emotional and we are not, we try to counterbalance them by staying calm. But this doesn’t work.
  • You seem ____. Are you feeling ____? Give me a sense for what you’re feeling.
  • Do NOT try to move onto the Transform step until you are fully done naming and understanding. If someone is still speaking in a loud voice, tearful or flushed with emotion—they are not done processing yet.
  • You can’t argue with a feeling, but you can acknowledge it.
  • Toxic people are not worth your energy.
  • His sincere curiosity makes him incredibly engaging.
  • popular people are more attuned to social signals, social hierarchy, and relationships—and they place higher value on these cues.
  • Start and end phone calls with “I’m so happy you called!”
  • Don’t impress people; engage them.

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