Open Minds, Open Doors - Janet Luongo
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By Janet Luongo

5 key skills that will open doors for you:

1. Open your eyes

a. Observe the person you’re communicating with
b. Paint pictures with visual language

2. Open your ears

a. Hear the tone of voice
b. Listen fully to the other first

3. Open your heart

a. Understand and empathize
b. Ask how you can help them

4. Open your mouth

a. Choose words that are clear, concise and compelling
b. Adapt your communication to the other’s style

5. Open your body

a. Project positive body language
b. Respond to the other’s body language


A. The Elevator Speech

Picture this: I’m on the elevator with a very important person who asks you about myself. I answer: I’m Janet Luongo and I am president of the National Speakers Association’s NY chapter. I own my own company, Open Minds Open Doors. We work with organizations that want to increase productivity by developing the creative potential and communications skills in their people.

B. The Meaningful Conversation

To your delight, this V.I.P. is going with you to the 11th floor and you she is showing interest. Not only that, when you get off at the networking event, she indicates she wants to talk to you more. This is the “meaningful conversation” that we strive for that may lead to an appointment, referrals, business, a job. Who knows? So what do you say now?

1) A Personal Story:
I’m often asked about my company name, Open Minds Open Doors. In response, I may tell a personal story about how I like to keep the doors and windows open, but my husband prefers privacy and likes to keep the doors closed. We lived for eight years in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. In French “Je t’adore” means I love you, I adore you. Now, my husband often says to me, “Shut the door,” which sounds a lot like “Je t’adore.” I always answer him “Je t’adore aussi.”

2) How do you do what you do?
Then if people inquire further I may tell them that I believe we need, in the present turbulent climate, to open our minds to new ways of doing things, so that we grasp and create new opportunities. They may ask how do I do this? I answer, “through seminars, speeches and coaching sessions.”

3) DiSC
I explain I often use a self-assessment called the DiSC profile which identifies four basic behavioral styles in the workplace. I’d like to go over those four styles briefly now.

People are immensely complex, each of us is unique. That’s all the more reason that we need help in identifying basic styles, understanding of course that people are infinitely varied. In a nutshell it breaks down like this. There are people who are oriented towards PEOPLE OR TASKS. Note in your mind which you are. Then, of those, there are people who prefer to be FAST PACED OR DELIBERATELY PACED. Think which one you are.

Fast paced

  • D – Dominance – Task oriented
  • i - Influence – People oriented

Deliberately paced:

  • S – Steadiness – People oriented
  • C – Conscientiousness - Task oriented

4) How people with different styles behave in the elevator
We’ve been talking about elevators, so to make the difference in styles clearer, let’s consider how people with these different styles would act in an elevator:

The Dominant one, wanting to get where he was going, would want to be in control and be the one in charge of pushing the buttons.

The Influencer, interested in people, would make sure all the people got on who wanted to get on, and would talk to them.

The Steady one would take the same elevator at the same time every day and may even have an elevator buddy.

The Conscientious one would check out the weight regulations, would estimate everybody’s weight and multiply by the number in the elevator. She would also check that the inspection sticker was up to date.


You can use interpersonal skills to become more successful. You can use these skills to:

  • sell yourself or your idea at networking events,
  • or when you’re trying to make a sale
  • or communicate effectively with your direct reports, colleagues or boss.
  • improve relationships with friends, family and significant others.

The 5 main keys that will open doors for you:

        1. Open your eyes
        2. Open your ears
        3. Open your heart
        4. Open your mouth
        5. Open your body

1. OPEN YOUR EYES – Observe others, and use visual language.

A. Observe the person you are communicating with. Try to determine their style by observing:

a. What are they wearing?
b. What’s on their walls?
c. How are they organized?

D – Dominants

a. Often wear red, a power color
b. They have plaques of their achievements and awards on the walls; They may have white boards with “To Do” lists.
c. They are well-organized. Desks may be completely cleared. Drawers may even be empty!

i – Influencers

a. Dress colorfully and dramatically
b. Have pictures of people on the walls; there may be toys, gadgets and novelty stuff, along with plaques (they love recognition.)
c. How do they organize? They don’t. Clutter abounds.

S - Steadies

a. Dress in softer color and comfortable clothes, like sweaters
b. Have pictures of family and colleagues on the walls
c. May have lots of warm and fuzzy personal items around

C – Conscientious

a. Dress conservatively
b. There may be charts and graphs on walls.
c. Maintain a very neat and orderly office

B. Paint a picture with visual language and tell stories
For example, instead of saying, “I help people work with ‘difficult people,’ say “I help people work with ‘C.A.V.E. dwellers.’ When asked what that means, answer, “People who are Consistently Against Virtually Everything.” That phrase will get a laugh and will be remembered.

Tell stories and give examples of customer satisfaction. Instead of making the general statement “I have clients in health care,” I tell a specific story: “I delivered a program for a hospital in NJ that had concerns about staff attitudes. A month later the director reported that the staff is exhibiting a more positive attitude and greet each other in the halls with the gesture I showed them, “I got a new attitude!” This gives a picture of how my work benefits my clients.


A. Listen to the tone of voice
If someone asks you “And what do you do?” in a perfunctory tone you know they are only being polite and are not truly interested. If, on the other hand, they sound enthusiastic, then you can presume they are interested, and you can feel free to elaborate.

B. Listen fully – Ask about themselves first
Don’t interrupt, or give your own story before they are done giving theirs. Let them do MOST of the talking. For example, when I was vice-president of The Discovery Museum, an evaluator came from the state of Connecticut to review my grant application. I was eager to show her the whole museum, up and down the stairs, the exhibits, classrooms and all. But she was older woman who had trouble walking and just wanted to plop down in the lobby and tell me all about her own sterling career in the arts. I tried when I could to get a word in edgewise about my own programs. But she kept talking and I listened, and listened, and listened. Afterwards I found out that she said she was very impressed with me and my programs. People love you when you listen to them!


A. Understand and empathize with what people are saying.
Avoid advice. Unless people ask for it, don’t tell them what you think they SHOULD do.
To show you understand paraphrase or summarize what they’ve just told you. Another way to encourage them to talk is to repeat the last word of their sentence with a question mark For example:

“Around here we’ve been through a lot of changes.”
“Yes, there’s been resistance and morale is low?
“Morale is low?”
“Yes, and we find that people could have a much more positive attitude.”

B. Ask how you can help THEM.
Ask, “So what kind of client are YOU looking for? What services or information do YOU need?” Ask people if there’s anything you can do for them. What goes around comes around.


A. Choose words that are clear, concise and compelling.
Have catchy phrases, a story ready. Use concrete examples of clients you have, or problems you’ve solved. Give specific success stories.

B. Be sensitive to their style and communicate with them accordingly.

D– Dominance
They want an executive summary; be brief and to the point.
i - Influence
Share stories about people with them; you can be more emotional
S – Steadiness
Ask about their families and friends; tell them how you will support them.
C – Conscientious
Give them lots of facts, statistics, documentation and details.


According to the book Gestures by Roger Axtell, from our tone of voice and body language, including facial expressions, is derived 93% of the meaning of our message!

A. Project positive body language
1) Pay attention to the physical impression you make

  • what you wear and how you groom yourself.
  • Do you look the part? Dress in the style of the position you want.
  • Pay attention to how you stand, how you walk, how you greet people.
  • Are you giving the impression of the kind of work you do, of the kind of person you are?

2) Avoid body language that puts people off

  • Frowning
  • Crossing your arms across your chest
  • Hiding behind things
  • Fidgeting
  • Shaking your head
  • Showing a startled expression
  • Shaking hands too meekly or too roughly
  • Standing too close or too far
  • Being too intimate, touchy-feely
  • Looking around and not making eye contact
  • Turning your back to them

B. Respond to the signals that the person is emitting through body language
Look for clues in their body language. Are they standing facing you and are their eyes looking right into yours – then they are interested. Or are their eyes wandering, nodding at everyone who walks by and are they turning away – then they are not interested. At this point stop talking. If you continue giving your pitch they will not hear you and all they will remember is that you were annoying. It’s best to move on and find someone who is interested.


When these people skills are mastered you will

  • generate interest in yourself and your company
  • leave a memorable impression;
  • secure appointments, referrals
  • engage in meaningful conversations that lead to jobs, contracts;
  • develop solid relationships with clients and customers
  • enjoy repeat business.

When you open your eyes, your ears, your heart, your mouth and your body, not only will you open doors to new opportunity, but you will open the wallets of the people who will pay you generously for your remarkable services!

From a panel sponsored by CoolTea
The Power of Personal Presentation
December 12, 2002