Lessons from 1936 — 2. Six ways to make people like you by Valerie Poort

This is a continuation of my blogging while reading the book How to win friends and influence people, originally written in 1936 by Dale Carnegie.


Principle 1: Become genuinely interested in other people

Apparently, being genuinely interested in other people is one of the most important skills you can possess. It shows you're not just interested in them for selfish reasons, but that you're genuinely interested in benefiting the both of you. In a perfect world, what kind of person would want something different than the latter outcome? The interest has to be genuine and sincere — it must benefit both people.

You win more friends by becoming interested in people, than you can trying to get other people interested in you — 'we're interested in others when they're interested in us.'

If we do things for others, if we're interested in others, we make friends. How can we do this? By putting time, energy, unselfishness, and thoughtfulness into others. Greet people with interest — with enthusiasm and animation. 


Principle 2: Smile

A simple way to make a good first impression is with a smile. The action of a smile speaks much louder than words. It says: 'I like you, you make me happy, I'm glad to see you.'

Happiness completely depends on how we decide to feel. It depends on inner conditions and not outward conditions. If we act happy, before long we will feel happy. Thought is supreme.

Whenever you go out-of-doors, draw the chin in, carry the crown of the head high, and fill the lungs to the utmost; drink in the sunshine; greet your friends with a smile, and put soul into every handclasp. Do not fear being misunderstood and do not waste a minute thinking about your enemies. Try to fix firmly in your mind on the great and splendid things you would like to do, and then, as the days go gliding away, you will find yourself unconsciously seizing upon the opportunities that are required for the fulfilment of your desire.

Principle 3: Remember that a persons name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language

Here's a fun fact: The average person is more interested in his or her own name than in all the other names on earth put together. Remember that name and call it easily, and you have paid a subtle and very effective compliment. 

How do we remember a name?

  • Napoleon would, upon meeting someone, repeat the other persons name a few times in conversation, and associate it in his mind with the persons features, expressions, and general appearance. If he didn't hear the name properly, he said, 'I'm sorry, I didn't get the name clearly.' Then, if it was an unusual name, he would say 'How is it spelled?'
  • Franklin D Roosevelt made friends with everybody he met, by remembering and using their names — even years after they'd last seen each other
  • James Farley would find out the other persons complete name, some facts about his or her family, business, and political opinions. He would then, a year later, shake hands, inquire about family, and 'ask about the hollyhocks in the backyard'

Principle 4: Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

Listen to people. This is a really good and easy way to become a good conversationalist. Listen to the other person, and figure out when they're really just wanting to talk to you, rather than you talk to them.

Being a good listener involves listening with the ears, listening with the eyes, and listening with the brain, 'people are so much concerned with what they are going to say next they do not keep their ears open... the ability to listen seems rarer than almost any other good trait.'

When I conduct customer research, it involves a lot of listening. It's important I listen correctly, otherwise people won't respect me, trust me, or open up to me. Even if our interviews are dealing with difficult subject matter, people come away from interviews extremely positive, as they've been listened to.

This afternoon, I applied this principle in practice. It worked a charm. Somebody asked me how my weekend was, and I proceeded to chat away... then I remembered this principle, and abruptly stopped talking, turning attention to the other persons weekend. She talked and talked — I gathered she was interested in art history, and asked her if this was a hobby. She ended up talking for another 5 minutes or so before she realised she had to get back to her presentation.


Principle 5: Talk in terms of the other persons interests

This principle is closely related to the fourth, and seems to go a step further. Researching and finding out what interests people, and then talking with them about their interests, is a definite way to make people like you. Talk to people about themselves, and they will listen for hours. 


Principle 6: Make the other person feel important — and do it sincerely

Carnegie recounts a story where he once complimented a post office clerk by admiring his hair — which made the clerk insurance react positively to Carnegie. Others have since asked him 'What did you want to get out of him?' To which he inredecously replies 'if we are so contemplty selfish that we can't radiate a little happiness and pass on a bit of honest appreciation without trying to get something out of the other person in return... we shall meet with the failure we do richly deserve.'

We're now, once again, reminded that 'the deepest principle of human nature is the craving to be appreciated' and the deepest urge is to feel important. These urges have been responsible for civilisation itself. 

Little phrases such as 'I'm sorry to trouble you,' 'would to be so kind to—?,' 'would you please?,' 'Would you mind?,' 'Thank you' — little courtesies like these pop the cogs of the monotonous grind of the everyday life — and, incidentally, they are the hallmark of good breeding. They show others respect. 

After a few stories of people who got what they wished for, Carnagie sums them up saying 'such is the power, the stupendous power, of sincere, heartfelt appreciation.'

Lessons from 1936 — 1. Fundamental techniques in handling people by Valerie Poort

This is a continuation of my blogging while reading the book How to win friends and influence people, originally written in 1936 by Dale Carnegie.


Principle 1: Don't criticise, condemn, or complain.

Carnagie sums up one of Lincoln's most defining moments, recounting that Lincoln 'almost never criticised anybody for anything again.' Lincoln says 'if I send this letter, it will relieve my feelings, but it will make Meade try and justify himself. It will make him condemn me.' Lincoln had learned from the experience that 'sharp criticisms and rebukes almost end invariably in futility.' Instead of criticising or highlighting faults in people, try to speak all the good you can of people. I'd hazard a guess that in reality, good things happen far more often than anything we could criticise, but it's built into human nature to only notice those bad things. This is a reminder to adjust how we look at the world.

Bad things happen when we critisize others. 'When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice and motivated by pride and vanity.' If we try and understand what drives this emotion, this pride and vanity, we can try to figure out why they do what they do. 

We all thirst approval. This leads us nicely into the second principle...


Principle 2: Give honest and sincere appreciation

Chapter two opens with a reminder that there is no other way than to have somebody do something for you then making them want to do it. Making someone feel important (Dewey), making them feel great (Freud), or making them feel complimented and appreciated (James). People crave this. How people get their feeling of importance, Carnegie says, determines their character. For example, one person may feel importantdonating millions towards building a hospital for thousands of poverty stricken children, while another may feel important robbing banks and being considered public enemy number one. 

Carnegie shows an example of an incredibly successful American businessman, who was 'hearty in his appreciation and lavish in his praise'. Just as people crave to feel important, they crave appreciation. He warns to not confuse appreciation with flattery — the difference being simply that one is sincere, and one is insincere.

It's true that people are starved of appreciation. I can think of a handful of instances today during the day where I could have been let the other know how appreciative I was of them. A lesson from this chapter is to acknowledge what people are doing, thank them, appreciate them and their effort, whether at work or at home. 


Principle 3: Arouse in the other person an eager want

"I often went fishing up in Maine during the summer. Personally I am very fond of strawberries and cream, but I have found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms. So when I went fishing, I didn't think about what I wanted. I thought about what they wanted. I didn't bait the hook with strawberries and cream. Rather, I dangled a worm or a grasshopper in front of the fish and said wouldn't you like to have that?".

This is an excellent way to introduce Carnagies point of influencing people by talking about what they want and showing them how to get it, but also of thinking from someone else's point of view — which is something I try do daily in my work, thinking from someone's else's point of view.

Arguing with someone to get what you want is fruitless. Instead, try and think of what the other person wants, and what is motivating their decisions. Expose this, talk about this, and you might be able to come to a win win situation. 

So simply — how do you go about making someone do something? Make them want to do it. Henry Ford once said "If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other persons point of view and see things from that persons angle as well as from your own."

Of course, this shouldn't be seen as manipulative — if it's creating a win win situation for both people, it can only be beneficial.

Lessons from 1936 — In writing by Valerie Poort

In May last year, when I started at Internal Affairs, I quickly realised something key. Approximately 10% of my job was using the specialist academic skills I'd learned at university... while the other 90% of my job was working with people. As Dale Carnegie opens in his book How to win friends and influence people, "the person who has technical knowledge plus the ability to express ideas, assume leadership, and to around enthusiasm amongst people — that person is headed for higher earning power." This key skill of human engineering — the "personality and the ability to lead people," doesn't seem to have changed one bit since the book was published eighty years ago.

As I read through this book, I want to blog. Not only will this reinforce the valuable parts of this influential book, but hopefully it'll be valuable to anyone who reads this.

Start Up Weekend Environment by Valerie Poort

What can you do in 54 hours? Share ideas, meet a team, and be mentored by the industry's finest at Startup Weekend Wellington; where you’ll find the tools to design and build a new product, service or business in the space of a single, fast-paced weekend. 

Design for Social Innovation by Valerie Poort

(On a side note, I do admit that I write this almost two months after the symposium took place. Seems that I needed those that time to reflect! But that’s ok; it just shows how what I learnt has stuck with me all this time).

More than a few things blew my mind in two days. As someone who has just graduated design school – learned the academics and the methodology of what I do – I’m still very much imitating what I observe. As I practice what everyone around me does, I question why I do things, I see what’s not working… (I’m not sure if that’s just me, or more common).

I volunteered to help out (thanks to Rachel Knight and Billy Matheson) at the two-day Design for Social Innovation symposium, which took place mid-July; this time in Wellington. The symposium gathered a community of practitioners who contributed their thoughts on what is archaic, dominant, and emergent about what we do.

Don’t you love those mind-boggling moments when you learn something and everything just clicks? This happens to me a lot at conferences. And this symposium – which, comparatively, sounds much less boring! – certainly didn’t disappoint.

One epiphany I had was during our welcoming into and opening of the symposium. Many customs and practices from Māori culture were embedded here. Everyone was grounded – reminded of where we were physically, what we were there for, who we were. We also indulged in morning tea and chatted with our neighbours. Simple and powerful.

Two inspirational keynotes followed, to set up the rest of the two days. Christian Perry, Director of Toi Whaakari, showed us how his school had become truly bicultural. One way they did this was not ‘doing’ Māori for the sake of it. It meant using kaupapa Māori only if it improved on how things were already being done.

I was thankful that the symposium wasn’t two days of talking the talk. A lot of talks were geared towards the practical, the ‘so what does this mean’, and the ‘so how do we do this.’ Many workshops during the two days were people sharing real techniques with other people. 

To start off day two, Keriata Stuart took us through a mindfulness exercise. For at least 10 minutes, everyone in the room sat with their eyes closed, listening to the words Keriata was speaking. A moving reminder of the importance of breathing, taking a break, standing back, and observing. This, she reminded us, was exactly what we were doing by attending the symposium.

Most importantly, I’ve connected into a community of passionate practitioners, which has been invaluable. They’ve helped me glimpse into places where I could definitely find more and more of my purpose. But also they’ve helped me realise that my purpose will change all the time (thanks for that Noel Brown!). 

This note was scribbled at the back of my notebook, “nothing is perfect. You have to start somewhere. You can always go back. Nothing is ever good enough. It is going to need to be good enough. Good enough is enough.” I don’t know whether someone said that, or whether it was my brain, or somewhere in between.