In October of 1936, Dale Carnegie released one of the most well known books in the history of personal growth. Actually, at over 30 million copies, How to Win Friends and Influence People, is one of the best selling books of all time.
And it’s powerful principles of relationship building — which have helped countless people — can help every single one of us.
By all means, if you haven’t already, read (or listen to) the whole book. But today, I offer an overview of some of these time and battle tested ideas. Consider the difference they could make in your networking and business building.
First of all, don’t criticize, condemn or complain. Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes them strive to justify themselves. It can also be dangerous because it can wound a person’s precious pride, hurt their sense of importance, and even arouse resentment.
Anyone can criticize, condemn and complain — and many do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.
People are emotional. Let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with egos and personalities, bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.
Wherever possible, give honest and sincere appreciation and acknowledgment. Remember that a person’s name is — to that person — the sweetest and most important sound in any language. Be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves.
In the simplest terms, ask good questions and then genuinely listen to and care about the answers. It’s so fundamental, but it really makes a difference.
According to Carnegie, if there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to understand the other person’s point of view and to see things from that angle as well as from our own.
He believed the only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.
So smile. Become genuinely interested in other people. Be sympathetic with others’ ideas and desires. Appeal to the nobler motives. In other words, stay on the high road, focus on the people in front of you and on what they need and want. Intellectual strategy certainly has its place. But Carnegie believed in leading with his heart and his gut, in making a real connection.
Because as I’m sure you’re aware, people will not remember exactly what you said. But they will remember the way you made them feel, and (conscious of it or not) even how they felt about themselves when around you.
The greatest of actors will tell you that their attempt is to know their lines so well, they forget them. Then they can appear fresh and seemingly organic in the moment of the scene. I encourage all of us to do the same.
Know your craft, the offerings, the possibilities and the limitations, as well as you possibly can. So you’ll be freed up to simply be with the person or people in front of you. To provide that present, connected experience with enough mental bandwidth to understand, and enough emotional bandwidth to really care.
That’s how you win friends and influence people. Oh, and close a bunch of business.