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.