Why should you care about winning friends and influencing people? Well, perhaps you shouldn’t care, but Dale Carnegie and others took time to explore this topic because we tend to want to relate better with other people, be it at home, at work, or in social settings.
In his 1936 book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale laid out his approach in four parts: how to treat people, how to get people to like you, how to win people to your way of thinking, and how to be the leader who people want to follow.
How to Treat People
Nobody likes being criticised, and people automatically go on the defensive when criticised. However, when the criticism is packaged the right way and comes from someone we consider to be ordinarily fair and objective, people take it positively.
As Maya Angelou and others have said:
People may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
Giving honest and sincere appreciation to someone communicates that you notice them, and value them as a human being. Even at the workplace, honest and sincere appreciation from a line manager fosters an environment where workers don’t need coercion or incentives to exceed performance objectives.
Since people respond to how they are treated, it goes without saying that a person will want to make an effort to collaborate with someone with who he/she has a cordial relationship.
Getting People to Like You
When there’s clarity of objectives and goals, why would anyone care about being liked? The thing is, whether at home or in the office, we need to get along with people for better results. Even a boss needs to get along with clients and stakeholders.
What Dale explains in the second part of the book might once have been called good manners or common sense. Getting to know (and use) people’s names, showing concern for about what matters to others, smiling, listening attentively, and so on.
Everything he describes is useful in whichever setting you can imagine. In family life, this is the stuff that helps improve communication and diffuse more than a few quarrels. At the workplace, it translates to better-motivated teams and better sales. After all, Dale Carnegie’s target audience in the 1930’s was salespeople in a typical business environment.
Win People to your way of thinking
The third section of the book is about influencing people to agree with you on goals, problems or projects. This stuff is not about coercion, but instead, skills to help you be more effective.
Dale gives 12 suggestions that you can employ:
- Avoid unnecessary arguments. When you spot an argument brewing, gracefully diverting the conversation will make you look like the cool party.
- Watch how you correct people. The language you use and how you approach them may be counterproductive.
- Admit when you’re wrong. People will respect you for it.
- When you need to correct someone, say what needs to be said, nicely. People are likely to accept the correction if you don’t come across as condescending or righteous.
- Apply the wisdom of Socrates to convince people. Start with the issues you are sure you both agree on.
- When a colleague is complaining, let him/her vent without interrupting or interjecting.
- Win people’s corporation by incorporating their ideas and let them feel that they contributed to a solution.
- When someone seems unreasonable, take time to understand where they’re coming from and let them see you are making an effort to do so. You could end up changing your mind or theirs.
- When you simply cannot agree with someone’s request or proposal, it does not harm to acknowledge their thoughts and sentiments regardless.
- When a matter is contentious, tactfully appeal to societal norms of right, wrong, and fair play. The majority will probably want to side with you on that score.
- Storytelling is not a preserve of the movies. Stories help you connect and communicate better.
- Present a problem in a way that inspires the team’s competitive spirit.
The last part of the book is about leadership, and the ideas can be used in any area of your life. Leaders often find themselves in situations where they need to bring about change, e.g., team habits, individual behaviour, and corporate culture. Dale proposes how to do this without arousing resentment.
- When you must give demerits, start by stating the merits of the person or group. Don’t begin with criticism.
- When possible, your criticism should be indirect. For example, offer someone an alternative way of doing something rather than point out that it’s being done wrong.
- Let people hear you talk about your own mistakes before you start talking about someone else’s.
- Ask someone questions such that their answers lead to the solution you are looking for. Something as simple as, “Do you think it’s possible to achieve more accuracy?”
- When someone has messed up, give them a chance to make it right. Allowing them to save face in a team setting will make them want to do better and “not let you down.”
- Acknowledge people’s improvement. If possible, do it publicly. Let the individual and team see that you notice their efforts.
- In a group setting, always speak when introducing or calling upon an individual. Talk them up such that they will want to live up to their good name.
- When someone is looking for advice on a problem, offer suggestions that make the problem seem easy to fix. That inspires confidence.
- Identify the traits and attributes that someone is proud of and bring it up in conversations. For instance, if someone takes pride in their knowledge of a subject, complement them and from time to time, call on them for that knowledge.
What do you think?
- Get the Kindle version of the book from Amazon at this LINK.
- Do you think Dale Carnegie’s ideas on winning friends and influencing people still make sense in the 21st century?