In 1936, Dale Carnegie published what has become one of the most influential self-help books of all time, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’. Since then, the work has gone on to be considered required reading for anyone looking to make it in the world of business. Today, we lay out the 10 most salient points from the book.
1. Smile – Studies show that a stranger forms an opinion of us within the first 1/10th of one second of meeting us. Thus before a person ever meets you, they have judged you. When you smile at someone you are communicating to them that you like them, and are happy to see them. This in turn makes the other person instantly like you as well. As an added side-note, it’s relevant to mention that studies have also shown that the mere act of smiling can boost our brain chemistry and make us happier as well. Thus, ‘fake it til you make it’ in this case has been proved scientifically to work.
2. Don’t Criticize – It’s no secret that people are ruled by emotion more than by reason. Thus if we want to change someone’s opinion, criticizing them is a very bad approach. By criticizing someone we make them feel under attack and cause them to put up walls and become defensive toward us. This in turn will cause people to like us less. A better approach would be to adopt Benjamin Franklin’s policy and, ‘Speak ill of no man.’. This is not to say we must always agree with others, but when we do disagree there is a proper way to do this, which we will explore later on.
3. Show Appreciation – One of the strongest needs we as humans have is the need to feel appreciated. It could be said that the greatest achievements mankind has ever made were all in an effort to seek praise and approval; in other words, to be appreciated. If you want people to like you and to do favors for you they must know you will sincerely praise them afterwards. Few things make someone feel better than to sincerely be told they have done a job well. To this end it is helpful to adopt the mindset of Ralph Waldo Emerson who believed that every person he met was superior to him in some way. Thus, if we discover the way another is superior to us we can learn from them and sincerely appreciate them.
4. Be Interested In Others – The one topic every person you meet is very interested in is, themselves. So if you take an active interest in this topic as well, people will be very appreciative of your attention. One of the biggest ways we can show interest in someone is by attentively listening to them speak. People love to talk, and they love to talk about themselves. So if you are a person who they know takes interest and likes to hear about their favorite topic they will like you in return.
5. Talk About What Matters To The Other Person – According to Carnegie, before Teddy Roosevelt was to meet with anyone he would learn what their interests were and learn as much as he could about the interest. If you allow others to actively talk about what excites them, they will be grateful for the opportunity to speak about it. Of course as stated above, for everyone, that interest is inherently themselves.
6. Remember Their Name – The sweetest sound in the world to another person is their name. If you address a person by their name, if you remember their name, and if you insert it into the conversation that person will instantly like you. To prove this, the next time you deal with customer service, address the person on the other end of the line by their name and see if their attitude toward you doesn’t improve.
7. Avoid Arguments – According to Carnegie, you cannot win an argument. Ever. Even if you do make points that disprove your opponents position, you have not won because you have created an enemy. This is not a win. Thus, Carnegie states that it is best to avoid arguments altogether. This is not to say you should always agree with everyone; this is simply not possible. Instead however, if you are facing a disagreement, leave your emotions out of it and makes sure to…
8. Never Tell The Other Person They Are Wrong – By telling someone they are wrong you are telling them that you are smarter than them. This attack will cause them to put up a wall, or worse a fight, and again create an enemy. Instead, if faced with a situation where the other person is wrong it is much better to admit that you yourself may be the one who is in the wrong, and invite them to examine the case with you more closely. This approach will soften the other person and make them much more likely to go along with you as you lead them to the conclusion you can allow them to discover for themselves.
9. Immediately Admit When You Are Wrong – If you are wrong, your opponent will want to attack you for it. If you immediately admit your mistake before they can you will steal this thunder. If you are wrong, it is much easier to be the one who admonishes yourself than to let someone else do it, it will even make you look admirable in their eyes.
10. Get Others to Say ‘Yes’ – Everyone knows the sales technique of getting clients to repeatedly say ‘yes’, but why does this work? One reason this works is because it puts the person on the same side as you. By telling the other person that you’re on the same side, and that you have the same goals, it makes them much more likely to go along with you when you ask for the final sale. This is one of the reasons there is so much power in ‘Yes’.
Follow these 10 rules and you will be well on your way to being much more likeable and will in no time be winning friends and influencing people!