Cover & Diagrams

resource preview
resource preview


How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less teaches face-to-face communication skills to quickly bond people together. It explains how to make a good first impression, start a conversation with almost anyone, establish instant rapport, and build better business and personal connections.

All personal interactions and business relationships are based on rapport. The key to establishing quick rapport is to synchronize conversational behaviors. This is accomplished by mimicking a conversation partner's facial expressions and other body languages, as well as voice tone. The author teaches these steps for effective communication –

  • Know the wants, needs, and goals
  • Find out what is being delivered
  • Change and improve practices to achieve the desired results

The book is divided into three parts discussing how to build rapport –

  • First contact
  • Actions speak louder than words
  • People like people like themselves

He also explains three secrets for good communication –

  • Use active listening
  • Questions are the answer
  • Choose the best sensory channel for each partner

The book also contains several role-playing exercises designed for two partners, plus self-assessments and sample dialogues.


As suggested by its title, How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less builds on a self-help theme made popular by Dale Carnegie in his classic guide How to Win Friends and Influence People. It was first published in 2000 and has been updated several times since then.

Author Nicholas Boothman is a licensed Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). He first developed these practices while working as a professional photographer, because he needed a way to quickly gain trust and bond with his clients.

The steps to effective communication

  • Know the wants, needs, and goals
  • Find out what is being delivered
  • Change and improve practices to achieve the desired results

Know the wants, needs, and goals

The first step is to state a specific goal or need, and keep it positive. Beyond distinguishing between wants and needs, effective communication is focused on achieving specific goals. Goals may be either personal or business objectives, the communication methods remain the same for both.

To illustrate this principle, the author talks about Colonel Sanders, the famous icon of Kentucky Fried Chicken. The author explains how Colonel Sanders grew his restaurant chain into today's huge KFC Company based on knowing exactly what he wanted. The Colonel knew the right taste and presentation that would best market his chicken.

Find out what is being delivered

The second step is to analyze the current situation to learn exactly what is being delivered, and how it compares with wants and needs. It is important to receive plenty of outside feedback and understand the differences between what is desired and what is delivered.

As the author points out, Colonel Sanders succeeded because he closely monitored what was being delivered. He controlled the quality of the product being delivered to his customers as well as the quality of the raw foods being supplied to his restaurants. That meant less room for errors.

Change and improve practices to achieve the desired results

The next step is to change communication practices slowly but surely. Based on feedback, keep changing the practices until the desired results are achieved. Finally, follow through with a plan for constant improvement. Small-town Kentucky Fried Chicken has grown into global corporate giant KFC because of a culture of constant change and improvement through customer and employee feedback. To remember and reinforce this principle, the author recommends saying the acronym "KFC" aloud several times daily.

First contact

The initial face-to-face encounter between two strangers is the pivotal moment for establishing rapport. Because of the "fight or flight" instinct, people make judgments about whether to trust someone – or not – within the first couple of minutes during any face-to-face encounter. The first 90 seconds are critically important, and a first impression is hard to overcome.

Actions speak louder than words

Body language speaks more loudly than words. It is important to ensure that the listener's body language supports the verbal message instead of contradicting it.

The author explains that "rapport by design" can be created by anyone, with practice. As an example, he tells the story of a young man who attended a dinner along with many other single people. He was bored, and was sitting alone when he overheard a beautiful woman telling someone that she was an avid online gamer.

Her original conversation partner wasn't interested in that topic, so the young man quickly greeted her and began to build rapport with skillful body language. He smiled often, kept his body leaning toward her, and mimicked each of her body movements. When she sipped her drink, within a couple of seconds he sipped his.

Since they shared mutual interests, the talking was easy. The author's point is that even when people are shy, they can become successful by practicing better body language.

People like people like themselves

As an evolutionary survival trait, people tend to trust others who look and act like themselves. By combining appropriate body language and words, people can create instant rapport and strong connections with their conversation partners.

Three secrets for good communication

Active listening

As the Greek philosopher Epictetus said, "We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak."

Active listening establishes a strong bond between conversation partners. An active listener uses tools such as effective body language and questioning techniques to create personal rapport. The listener must wait patiently while other people talk, observing body language and listening carefully to what they say and how they say it. These practices give listeners plenty of time to think about why speakers have chosen specific words and tones.

Questions are the answer

Questions are powerful tools for connecting with people. Good questioning helps listeners learn quickly and form strong connections with conversation partners. A skilled questioner can lead people to explore uncharted territory and make unexpected commitments. The author describes how the right questions build rapport. He explains how to use the power of two types of questions: open-end and closed-end.

Open-end questions are those which cannot be answered by a simple "yes or no." Open-ended questions are sometimes called "leading questions" because they provoke thought. This type of question allows a conversation partner to disclose sensitive information. They can be used to start an initial conversation, or walk someone toward a clearer understanding of issues and possible solutions, without pressure. Examples of open-end questions:

  • "What do you think about XYZ Company?
  • "What are the priorities this week?"

Closed-end questions are those which can be answered by a simple "yes" or "no" without further explanation. This type of question helps refocus a conversation partner, and may be used to stop a conversation from going farther down a particular pathway.

The best time to interject a closed-end question is during a natural break or lull in the conversation, while the partner is reflecting or taking a breath. Avoid using them in a confrontational way. Examples of closed-end questions:

  • "Do you work with XYZ Company?"
  • "Is the client happy?"

A balanced mixture of open- and closed-end questions helps conversation partners build rapport while allowing plenty of breathing room and time for reflection.

Sensory channels

In each face-to-face situation, it is important to communicate with conversation partners through their optimal communication channels. The author's neuro-linguistic programming concept is based on the idea that each person may be categorized into one of three distinct learning styles or sensory channels:

  • Visual
  • Kinesthetic
  • Auditory

Most people can process visual input more easily than kinesthetic (or touch) data. A small minority respond best to auditory input. A good listener and observer can become skilled at determining a speaker's preferred sensory channel from words and eye movements. Once an observer can detect and connect with a conversation partner's optimal sensory channel, they can easily establish rapport.