Monday, April 07, 2008

Success Book Reviews: Boothman on Rapport

Nicholas Boothman's How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less Less is one of the most astoundingly applicable personal-development books I have come across. Within days of finishing this short volume, I found that I was able to build rapport with others much more easily, and, indeed, I found that people I had just briefly met were positively glowing by the end of the conversation. In conversations with people I already knew, I frequently found that people did not seem to want to stop interacting, and that people were telling me much more personal details about themselves than I had been accustomed to hearing.

On the surface, the book appears to be a succinct review of certain features of NLP , Neurolinguistic Programming , a psychological discipline related to how humans “encode” their reactions into the state of their bodies. A simple example might be how difficult it is to feel sad while consciously smiling. But Boothman, who has used these techniques extensively in his role as a professional photographer, has been able to capture and translate NLP theory into easily-remembered routines that anyone can apply to build rapport with others.

I also found myself surprised at how often I was failing to apply his techniques: when you notice, for instance, that you are not making eye contact, or that you are subtly pointing your body away from the person you are trying to build rapport with, you realize what mistakes you my have been making for years. In my case, perhaps my whole life.

I don’t want to give away the whole book, so I will refrain from discussing the many techniques Boothman offers, but I do want to mention the question of authenticity. Are we being “authentic” when we practice these techniques? Well…I was a lot more “authentic” when I played piano badly, than when I learned to play by instruction. But the real goal was not "authenticity, but rather to use technique to bring out the more important values in the music. And that is what is going on when we apply Boothman’s techniques. The goal is not the technique, but the communication that arises from employing the technique. Sure…I would be more “authentic” using the limited vocabulary I had when I was three years old, before I was “educated” in more advanced forms of language. But it is the very advancement in technique that allowed me to communicate better. For my money, I have no interest in “being my old self” if I can accomplish more by adding new, effective behaviors.

And, believe me…Boothman’s techniques are awesomely effective. Read this book.

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