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.'