Post No.: 0608
Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People is one of the biggest selling self-help books of all time so I decided to check it out to see if it’s stacked with smarts or bulging with bosh. The following key points are what I took away from it…
Firstly, enjoy and desire to master the principles of human relations. Apply them to every opportunity you can. Aim to constantly improve and learn from your and other people’s mistakes.
The number one rule is to always make the other person you’re interacting with feel important and respected. Do unto others as you’d want others to treat you. I’d however personally refine this to doing unto others as they’d wish to be treated because not everyone wants the same things. But indeed almost everyone wishes to be treated with respect.
Some fundamental techniques for handling people are to understand that it’s not ‘an eye for an eye’ so rise above to be a bigger and better person if someone does you wrong. Rather than criticise, condemn or complain – try to understand them instead. Imagine being in their shoes. I however believe that we shouldn’t be passively subservient when we have things to criticise or complain about – there are just good and bad ways of going about it. So good criticism would be reasoned, constructive and condemns the behaviour rather than the person. But I agree that it shouldn’t always be tit-for-tat with grievances, we will better understand another person’s behaviours with more empathy, and rising above and forgiveness is often the more virtuous bigger-picture route. There is also great wisdom in understanding that it’s not other people’s behaviours or the external events that happen to us that make us feel how we feel but how we choose to react towards them.
Talk from the point of view of what the other person wants and then arouse their wants to drive them to act. It’s not what you want but what they want that will influence people to act.
Be genuinely interested in other people and express this interest with enthusiasm. Do considerate things for other people. Show that you care by doing something they’d appreciate.
Smile :). Expect to have a good time when meeting people and they’ll more likely have a good time when meeting you. Use, repeat and remember people’s names. (If you want to show people that you care about and pay attention to them – remember their names! People are usually impressed if you can do so after having only met them briefly once before.) Give boundless honest and sincere appreciation, with no weak flattery. Now you may wonder how to give honest rather than insincere compliments to someone if you don’t really feel there are any to give them, but if we pay attention to what people tell us and what they have done and have proudly achieved then we will more likely find out things about them that impress us. And if we don’t take for granted anything we receive then we should be able to find plenty of direct or indirect things they’ve done that we appreciate.
So be a great listener. Surrender your exclusive attention to them i.e. don’t have a divided or distracted attention when you’re supposed to be with them. Getting people to like you – which is key to how to influence others without coercion – is again about making people feel important. Encourage them to talk about themselves and what they personally like. Talk about what interests them. And again show your appreciation at every opportunity.
A lot of this appears to mirror the subject of establishing rapport, as examined in Post No.: 0603, which shouldn’t be surprising because you can influence people more easily, and they with you, if you have a genuine rapport with them.
To influence people over to your way of thinking – disarm any arguments by avoiding them if possible and use gentle persuasion via ‘soft skills’ (hearts and minds) instead. Show respect for other people’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong” – at least in such a blunt manner. But if you are wrong yourself then admit it. Win people over gently with emotional tact. Be sympathetic to their ideas, desires and situations. Honestly consider their point of view as if in their shoes.
Use a friendly tone and demeanour. Begin by emphasising what you both agree on. So start by getting the other person to say, “Yes” to a series of statements or questions, rather than, “No” – to gain some initial positive momentum.
Let them talk more if they have things they wish to say. Only make suggestions, and try to let the other person come to the desired conclusions themselves. Few people like to be ‘sold’ or ‘told’ to do something. Most people like to think that they always act on their own ideas – to be consulted on their wishes, wants and thoughts. So let the other person feel that an idea is theirs. Or if you want to express ideas of your own then make them as vivid, dramatic and appealing as possible.
Appeal to their nobler motives – for example, say that they are fair, open-minded and honest if they are. Or if they are strong-willed, then perhaps throw down a challenge for them to do something that they don’t really want to do!
To inspire change in others and be an eloquent leader – start with honest praise and acknowledgement of what they’ve accomplished before trying to change their views or correct them. Be careful not to give praise and then follow it with a, “But…”
Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly via positive encouragement i.e. instead of talking about what you think they did wrong, talk about how you think they could do it better instead. And model desired behaviours by leading by example. Be sensitive to other people’s feelings. Let them save face. Give them a fine reputation to live up to because it’ll instil a positive self-fulfilling prophecy. They’ll then wish to maintain this fine reputation by doing the right things.
Admit to and talk about your own mistakes. Humble yourself then praise the good points in others before attempting to criticise anyone else. Show that you are relatable through humility.
Don’t give orders (although is this an order?!) Ask questions in the form of suggestions instead. There are however contexts where you shouldn’t beat around the bush but get straight to the point if you don’t want any ambiguity in your requests; although politeness always remains crucial.
Give positive encouragement. Make anything good seem easy and worth doing. Praise even the slightest progress and improvement, and every specific rather than general improvement. Being specific (such as pointing out a specific piece of work that shows promise or a moment of intense effort they’ve put in) is more powerful because it shows that you’re being attentive to them and the praise is personal rather than generic.
Honour people with responsibility, which suggests that you trust them. Make them feel glad to do what you want by thinking about the push and pull factors – for instance, ‘if you do this then that reward will happen’.
Concentrate on expressing the benefits for them, not for you, for doing what you suggest. This means knowing exactly what it is you want the other person to do, asking yourself and empathising with what it is the other person really wants, matching the benefits to the person you’re addressing in terms of their wants, and making the benefit personal to them. Be sincere, and don’t promise more than you can deliver.
…Well that I believe is essentially the teachings in a nutshell. It’s simple advice if you want to make friends and influence people. Perhaps too oversimplistic, but it is quite accessible. Whether you view the tips as obsequious or manipulative, or not, may depend on how sincerely you care about getting to know other people and their interests to try to be friends with them, rather than just superficially pretending and schmoozing up to them just to try to influence them. Such a shortcut might work to get you whatever you want, or might damage your reputation if people can see through your ploy.