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Win Over Your New Client: 4 Tricks from an Ex-FBI Agent

Forget the small talk and the storytelling. If you want to forge real friendships, you’ll have to put your listening skills to work. When speaking with someone else, always remember to use LOVE.
by Caitlin Schiller | Apr 13 2015

It’s lunchtime, and you’re chatting up a few coworkers about your recent foray into photography. At first everyone seems interested in hearing the stories from your shoot over the weekend, but after awhile, they begin averting their eyes and leaning away. You instantly notice. It’s not hard to figure out what they’re hinting: you’re talking too much.

When you’re around others, it’s easy to get into a spiral of talking about yourself. Whether it’s your nerves or excitement about life (and photography!), talking seems to neatly fill in the gaps. But in The Like Switch, former FBI Special Agent Jack Schafer and Doctor of Psychology Marvin Karlins team up to explain that when trying to make friends, it’s important, above all, to encourage others to speak.

If you’re an outgoing person, though, how should you do it? One of Schafer and Karlins’ most handy insights is to use the acronym LOVE. Let’s break down LOVE into its useful pieces.



As you probably know from experience, it doesn’t feel great when people stop listening to a story you’re excited to tell – and it’s even worse when they listen half-heartedly throughout.

Knowing how it feels, be sure that you never make that mistake when listening to someone else’s words. Pay attention to them by maintaining eye contact and never interrupting.



When it’s your turn to speak in conversation, keep an eye out for nonverbal cues and body language from your audience. Shifty eyes, crossed arms and a backwards lean aren’t part of a new dance move – they’re pretty standard indicators that the conversation you’re having isn’t going so well.

If you notice these disengaging actions, try focusing the conversation away from yourself or changing the subject to one that’s more interesting for your audience.



The way you vocalize influences your ability to make and keep friends. For example, your tone of voice changes along with the message you’re trying to convey, and humans have grown accustomed to recognizing these sonic cues.

Aiming to get romantic? You’ll most likely lower your voice to increase your chances.

Caught off guard by a surprise visit from a friend? Your response will probably be high-pitched.

Be mindful of these fluctuations and how they come across when you’re speaking.

While it may seem obvious, the content of your words is also important for keeping close ties with others. Compliment and acknowledge others often. It makes them feel good, and soon they’ll associate that feeling with you!



Empathy lets others know you’re on their side. When you’re talking with someone, it’s likely that you are both in the same immediate situation. You can use empathetic statements to let them know you’re aware of what is happening around you both. To a waitress working on the double during peak hours at your local cafe, you might say, “Wow, you’re busy. I don’t know how you do it!”

Want to be one half of a bunch of solid friendships by the end of the year? Give LOVE a whirl, and find out more about the things that bring us together (and tear us apart) in The Like Switch by Jack Schafer and Marvin Karlins. Read the book’s key points on Blinkist and learn:

  • Why we only expose our arteries to someone we actually like;
  • What eyebrows and fireflies have in common; and
  • Why long-term relationships have everything to do with LOVE.
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