How to Win Friends & Influence People includes, in its intro, the following list of things that the book’s instruction will do for the reader:
* Get you out of a mental rut, giving you new thoughts, visions, & ambitions
* Enable you to make friends quickly & easily
* Increase your popularity
* Help you to win people to your way of thinking
* Increase your influence, prestige, & ability to get things done
* Enable you to win new clients & customers
* Increase your earning power
* Make you a better salesman & executive
* Help you to handle complaints, avoid arguments, and keep human contact smooth & pleasant
* Make you a better speaker & a more entertaining conversationalist
* Make the principles of psychology easy for you to apply in your daily contacts
* Help you to arouse enthusiasm among your associates
I’m not so much interested in the business angle myself, simply because I am at an age where my professional life is what it is and after nearly three decades in the workforce I am comfortable with how I handle myself & interact with others on the job. However, the potential benefits of learning Carnegie’s principles can easily be applied to personal relationships and general human interaction. If you haven’t checked out Fundamental Techniques in Handling People please do so at your leisure, but for now we move on to the next section.
First & foremost we must “become genuinely interested in others”. People are generally interested in themselves morning, noon, & night, but to be genuinely interested in other people is a most important quality. Once again we can look to the animal kingdom for guidance. A dog is the only animal that doesn’t need to work for a living. Hens must lay eggs, cows have to give milk, & birds have to sing. Dogs make their living by giving nothing but love. For us humans, we can make more friends in two months by becoming genuinely interested in other people than we could in two years by trying to get others interested in us. If we merely try to impress people and get them interested in us we will never have many true friends. People who are not interested in their fellow human beings have tremendous difficulties in life and oftentimes fail. All of us like people who admire us. We are interested in others when they are interested in us.
Secondly, though it seems like simplistic advice, “smile”. William Shakespeare wrote “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”. An ancient Chinese proverb warned “a man without a smiling face must not open a shop”. Greet people with animation & enthusiasm. Force yourself to smile. Act as if you are happy and that tends to make you happy. Actions & feelings go together. Actions speak louder than words, and smiling is an action. By regulating the action we can regulate the feeling. The path to cheerfulness is to sit up cheerfully and to act & speak as if cheerfulness was already present. The expression one wears on one’s face is far more important than the clothes they wear. People who smile tend to manage, teach, & sell more effectively, and they also raise happier children. There is far more information in a smile than a frown. Encouragement is much more effective than punishment. Conversely, an insincere grin doesn’t fool anybody and others resent it. The effect of a smile is powerful even when it is unseen. Your smile comes thru your voice. I used to be a supervisor at a telemarketing firm and I can confirm that this idea is absolutely true. People rarely succeed at anything unless they have fun doing it. You must have a good time meeting people if you expect them to have a good time meeting you. Everyone is seeking happiness. The one surefire way to find it is by controlling thoughts. Happiness doesn’t depend on outward conditions, it depends on inner conditions. It isn’t what you have, who you are, where you are, or what you are doing that determines happiness or unhappiness…it is what you think about. Abraham Lincoln said that “most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be”. Thought is supreme. Preserve a good mental attitude of courage, honesty, & good cheer. To think rightly is to create. A smile is a message of good will that costs nothing but creates much. It enriches those who receive it without impoverishing those that give it. It happens in a flash but the memory of it may last forever. It creates happiness in a home, fosters good will in business, and is a witness of friendship. It provides rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, and sunshine to the sad. It cannot be bought, borrowed, or stolen because it isn’t any good to anybody until it is given away.
Next, we learn the importance of knowing & using a person’s name. “A person’s name is the sweetest and most important sound to that person”. People are so proud of their name that they strive to perpetuate it at any cost, so remembering & honoring the names of friends & associates is one of the most obvious & important ways of gaining goodwill. The average person is more interested in their own name than in all other names on earth combined. Remembering & using names is a way of paying a subtle yet effective compliment. When I graduated from high school I had the person calling names simply say “Sam Mano”, while nearly everyone else had their full name announced. My father had given me the middle name Anthony (and of course the legal first name Samuel), meaning that my initials spell Sam, something that I’ve always considered a rather ingenious idea from dear old Dad. After the commencement ceremony my parents asked me why my full name hadn’t been used and I immediately realized my mistake. I’ve regretted it for nearly three decades. If you forget or misspell a name you have placed yourself at a significant disadvantage. Emerson stated that “good manners are made up of petty sacrifices. Many people don’t remember names because they don’t take the time & energy to concentrate so as to fix names indelibly in their mind. They are too busy and make excuses for not remembering names. Politicians know that “to recall a voter’s name is statesmanship, to forget it is oblivion”. Be aware of the magic contained in a name and understand that it is wholly & completely owned by that one individual. Their name sets that person apart and makes them unique.
We then learn that it is vital to “be a good listener & encourage others to talk about themselves”. An interesting conversationalist hardly says anything at all…they listen intently. Good listeners are preferred over good talkers. Unfortunately the ability to listen is a rare trait. Listening is one of the highest compliments we can pay anyone because nothing is more satisfying than having the exclusive attention of the person to whom you are speaking. To be interesting be interested. People are much more interested in themselves & their wants than they are the problems of others. If you want people to shun, despise, & laugh at you behind your back then don’t listen, talk incessantly about yourself, & constantly interrupt others. A person who does that is intoxicated with their own ego and drunk with self-importance. Listening is not mere silence, but a form of activity. Hear with your eyes as well as your ears. Listen with your mind and attentively consider what the other person is saying. Even the most strident critic will usually soften & be subdued in the presence of a patient, sympathetic listener. Many fail to make a favorable impression because they don’t listen attentively…they are too concerned with what they are going to say next. People don’t always want advice…sometimes they just want a friendly & sympathetic person to listen. People who talk only of themselves think only of themselves. They are hopelessly uneducated no matter what kind of degree they might hold.
We must “talk in terms of the other person’s interests”. Make yourself agreeable. The royal road to a person’s heart is to talk about the things they treasure most. Talking in terms of the other person’s interests pays off for both parties. Both lives are enriched by the interaction.
And finally, learn to “sincerely make the other person feel important “. The lives of many could be changed if only someone would make them feel important. There is one all important law of human conduct: always make others feel important. Almost all the people we meet feel superior in some way, and it is important to let them know that we sincerely recognize their importance. Remember The Golden Rule: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. If we obey that law we will almost never get into trouble, and the observance will bring with it countless friends & constant happiness. Frequently those who have the least justification for a sense of achievement boost their own ego with a nauseating show of conceit. If we’re so selfish that we can’t radiate a bit of happiness and show a little honest appreciation without wanting something in return we are doomed to justified failure. To do something for someone without them being able to do anything in return provides a feeling that lives on long after the act. Courtesy oils the gears of the monotonous grind of everyday life and is the hallmark of good breeding.