How to Win Friends and Influence People – 70 Years Later (Part 2)

May 29, 2011

Earlier this year I had the great pleasure of sharing one of my biggest sources of guidance when it comes to people skills. My guide to Dale Carnegie’s legendary ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ serves not as a Cliff’s Note to the actual volume. Instead, my aim is to emphasize the ways in which Carnegie’s nuggets of wisdom are as powerful today as they were 70 years ago.

Given Carnegie’s mastery of his field, it was not surprising that I could not do justice in only one post. In this second post of three, I hope to continue singing the praises of ‘How to Win Friends,’ while tying it in to modern day business scenarios.

In this second installment, a lot of the key points reiterate and elaborate upon the former. So it might be worth visiting the post if you’ve not already.

Without further adieu…part 2.

Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

This is one of the reasons we always use other people’s names in conversation, and it is especially important today, when we tend to text and email when we should be paying attention to others. When we make others feel important (sincerely), we establish the fact that we already respect and value them. This eliminates the need to be combative or firm, and also elicits positive and cooperative feelings from those we interact with.

Show respect for other people’s opinions. Never say “you are wrong.”

Very important point here. I shouldn’t have to tell you to respect the opinions of others, but it may be tempting to argue over facts. By calling attention to someone else’s errors or mistakes you are not accomplishing anything, but rather pushing them away. Carnegie cites an example where the host of a dinner party mis-quotes the bible. The guest firmly corrects his host, though the correction is of no consequence. What do you think the reaction was? Half the time, it’s not worth correcting others, no matter how tempting it is to whip out the iPhone and Wikipedia. If you must, however, make sure to use statements like “I always thought,” “I had actually been told,” or “I may be mistaken, but.” When I Wiki challenge people, I will say things like “that’s interesting, it says here that…” if I simply cannot contain myself. These statements show respect for the beliefs and opinions of others, while making room for correction where it is important for the conversation. “I had actually been told the quota this month was $10,000, not $5,000. I could be mistaken, though.”

If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.

Not much explanation here. I’ve always believed that every second you spend being stubborn and pigheaded about your error, respect for you is tricking away. Be the bigger person, and simply say “I stand corrected.”

Begin in a friendly way.

You would think this would be common sense, but I am always amazed that people forget to begin in a friendly way. We are all so busy and impetuous, and there are frankly no real consequences anymore for being rude. Don’t simply start barking orders at someone because you are in a rush, angry, or frustrated. If you start with a smile and a pleasantry, you will have better results – and convey respect and appreciation.

Get the other person to say “yes” immediately.

This one may not make sense right off the bat. It has to do with Socratic method and psychology. When you wish to elicit a positive answer (concession), the first step is to establish common ground and agreement. Ask questions you are confident will be answered in the affirmative. Once you’ve done this, the other person will see that they see eye to eye with you on certain topics, and will feel more comfortable agreeing with you on those that matter.

Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.

There are a few reasons to do this. First and foremost, it has to do with listening, which we have already established as the most valuable skill one can possess. Secondly, only he who is talking can divulge valuable information. So let the other person talk. Finally, by letting other people talk, you demonstrate respect and eagerness to understand. In the age of Facebook and twitter, we have become so self indulgent and infatuated with exhibiting our own thoughts (myself included), we sometimes have to make a conscious effort to.. Well… Shut it.

Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.

Perhaps one of my most prized techniques in negotiation. People defend ideas that are theirs, and they appreciate being given credit. Often times, I will repackage or modify an idea I am proposing; I may incorporate another persons suggestions, or flat-out admit “I think you actually proposed this idea, no?” Doing so improves the likelihood of the idea being accepted, and if it is an idea that others will not take at least partial credit for, then it’s probably not a good one, and won’t fly anyways.

Make an honest effort to see things from the other person’s perspective.

‘How to Win Friends…’ isn’t all about getting your way, though. Sometimes, your way is not THE way, and sometimes, you are wrong. In order to ensure the highest level of success, you must do your best to see things from every angle, including that of those you don’t agree with. Doing so will not only allow you to anticipate and plan for their arguments; you might change your opinion and take another direction entirely.

Be sympathetic to the other person’s ideas and desires.

In continuation of the above, you must go further than identification. You must sympathize with and truly understand what motivates the other person. This will guide you in your dealings with them, and further help you predict their reactions in various situations that may arise.

Appeal to the nobler motives.

Paramount. Appealing to the nobler motives means painting a picture of someone that is favorable to them. It means reminding them of what they believe in and what they stand for, especially when it appeals to you or your organization. Examples may include statements like: “Henry, I know you care more about our customer service than about our bottom line, and that is why I think you are going to like what I’ve come up with for you.” Or how about proclaiming, in front of everyone: y”Judy has always demonstrated her tremendous dedication to this company, and that’s why I believe she will agree with this initiative. Isn’t that the case, Judy?” When you appeal to the nobler motives, you make the other person feel good about agreeing with you, and that makes it much more likely!

Dramatize your ideas.

Salesman 101 here, guys. If you aren’t passionate, enthusiastic, and energetic about your ideas, don’t expect others to be. Get excited about your ideas! Dramatize them! Let your enthusiasm show and spread to those around you until they can’t help but join your camp. If you cannot get that excited about an idea, either it or you are not right for the situation.

That about wraps up our third installment. I hope you’ve found these words of wisdom interesting and applicable. Feel free to add to them, and to share them with those around you. Part 3 will come soon enough!

Thanks, as always, for reading, commenting, and sharing!


One Response to “How to Win Friends and Influence People – 70 Years Later (Part 2)”

  1. Alexa McDaniel says:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to condense this great book! I am listening to the audio book and I wanted something to follow along and this is perfect!


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