Thursday, June 24, 2010

Book review of How to Win Friends and Influence People

Many people will tell you that this is the best self help book ever written. Others would say that it is the best relationship book ever written. Some will even say that this is the best business book ever written. Just the fact that it can fall into so many categories shows the magnitude of scope Dale Carnegie was able to craft with this work.

This book is over 60 years old, yet the insights Carnegie shares seem so self evident that it reads like it could have been published yesterday. This is a timeless work, a masterpiece in every aspect.

Carnegie delves into the lives of political, spiritual, historical, and even business figures to examine why they were able to command such a loving respect from their followers.

This book is a quote lover's dream. There are dozens of wonderful lines taken from some of the most influential people of all time. From the Buddha to Abraham Lincoln. Carnegie blends them all together in a way that tells a story about how to apply them into your everyday life.

I will focus this blog on the part that most struck me. That being the 6 things you can do to make people like you.

1. Be interested in people.

Every man I meet is in some way my superior; and in that I can learn of him. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you hate people, any relationship book isn't for you. You might instead want to look inward and figure out why you have so much undirected anger. To the others, what is not to be interested with in people? They're fascinating!

People do all kinds of crazy crap. From acts of true kindness to deeds of pure evil, all of it enthralls me. Get interested in people and you will never be bored again. There's just too much material. Whether you're reading The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin or trying to figure out why your co-workers are so strange, get yourself interested in people.

Interested is interesting. No one wants to associate with those that would just assume that the world population disappear tomorrow.

2. Smile.

A smile is a curve that sets everything straight. -Phyllis Diller

A smile says, "I like you." People want to be liked, and a smile is a clear sign that someone has brightened your day. It is disarming; smiles radiate warmth.

More than just smiling, be positive and happy. Do you like hanging out with miserable people? Of course not, and if you mope around glumly all day no one will like being around you either. People have enough doom and gloom without having to deal with Debbie Downer being the fun governor on everyone's day.

Smile, it's free. And who knows, maybe if you pretend to be happy and positive long enough you might just trick yourself into believing it. How awful to be happy all the time, huh?

Boethius said, "So nothing is miserable except when you think it so, and vice versa, all luck is good luck to the man who bears it with equanimity."

Which Shakespeare turned into, "Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so."

To which Lincoln summed up precisely as, "Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."

Wise men, wise words.

3. Remember people's names.

Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name! -John Proctor, The Crucible

I hear all the time people say, "I'm horrible at remembering names!" Well then put more effort into it. The next time someone introduces themself to you, focus more on their name than on trying to think up something to say to make you seem interesting. Stop worrying about yourself, everyone is doing the same thing, so it's ok for you to stop. No one will notice, I promise.

Instead when you meet someone, look them in the eye, and say, "Nice to meet you (Insert their name here)." Saying a name ingrains it in your mind. When they walk away, tell yourself, "That was this person, and they like this this and this." Anytime you get a chance, greet them with their name.

There is no sweeter sound in the world than a person's own name. Repetition leads to memorization, use names.

4. Be a good listener, encourage others to talk about themselves.

Nothing interests me more than me. -Me

No one wants to hear your stories more than they want to tell their stories. That's just a fact. Ask a question, laugh at their jokes, enjoy the experience of them opening up to you. It is a gift, don't take it for granted. Once you're fast friends you can share your stories. It's bullish to try and dominate a conversation. Listen and ask first.

I talked for an hour the other day to someone at a BBQ about his stain glass hobby. It was interesting to hear about what he had to say even though I knew nothing of the particular subject. I asked questions, nodded in approval, smiled when he said something amusing. When we left he couldn't stop talking about how great of a conversationalist I am. I had barely said a word.

Let others talk, it is easier and more likely to make people enjoy your company.

5. Talk in terms that interest the other person.

It is vain to talk of the interest of the community, without understanding what is the interest of the individual. -Jeremy Bentham

I love mixed martial arts. I do jiu jitsu, box a little, and work out weekly. No one outside of those who share my interests want to hear about that. They'd much rather talk about the things that interest them.

You need to lead conversations in directions that flow to the interests of those you are conversing with. It will make them feel more comfortable and get them to open up It will make them like you.

6. Make other people feel important.

bout twenty years ago, when our married daughters were in elementary school, they had a bicycle accident. Jo Ellen, our oldest, lost control of her bike and ran into her sister, Amanda, who was standing right in her path. Suddenly the front fender of the bike slid rather abruptly between Amanda’s fingers, and left a sizable gash that required several stitches.

The thing I remember most about the incident took place after we returned from the doctor. Amanda stood in our den, held up her bandaged fingers and, with absolute innocence and candor, declared, “Now I finally have something important to talk about!” -The Importance of Feeling Important. by Terry L. Sumerlin

From climbing mountains to writing symphonies, people perform grandiose acts every day with the sole desire to feel important. No drug is so addictive as that of needing to be valued. When people talk to you, give them your true attention. Looking over their shoulder to see if there is someone better for you to be talking to is no way to endear yourself to someone.

Anyone you talk to has done something important, whether it be big or small. Find what that is, ask them about it, and then let them know how important you think that action was. They will like you, because you made them feel important.

"You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you." -Dale Carnegie

Sound like one big ass kiss? Then you missed the whole point. The point is to genuinely like and enjoy people. If you do, these things will not be acts you have to put on, they'll be sincere actions you perform.

Find the positive in a person and focus a laser of praise and attention on that and they will open up to you like a flower welcoming the sun. Be a bright force in the world, build up, don't tear down. There's enough negativity out there, do your best to consciously not add to it.

Do I practice what I preach? No way, but I sure try to. Some days it doesn't work, some people just piss you off. But being aware that you're really trying to make an effort to improve yourself is an investment that will always pay hearty dividends. In the long run it will make you a happier person, and that should always be a goal in life.

If you give this book a chance it will change your life. I just recently re-read it, and once again I was instantly treating people kinder. In the end, I'm treating people in a way that I wish to be treated.

I think someone made a rule about that somewhere.

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