Of all the books published in the world, no more than one percent is really worth reading. The book “How to Win Friends…” by Dale Carnegie is among them.
Today’s article is for those who have already read Carnegie and for those who haven’t read his books yet (then start with this article, and then read the entire book).
The first principle of Carnegie is a sincere interest in others: you should call people by name, record their birthdays and family celebrations, know who works on what at the moment, what they dream about and what is important for them.
Imagine that you communicate with the client and he casually says that he is working on a large project the presentation of which is next week. Set a reminder to ask about the results of the presentation at the next conversation.
It’s nice to feel yourself like an expert. If a person drops a phrase that he is soon going kayaking, do not hesitate to ask how the canoe expedition is organized. Even if you are an experienced kayaker, ask to enlighten you. Ask questions. Your companion will be pleased that he is a bit more clever than you. It won’t cost you anything.
Make it a rule to keep quiet and listen to others. The less you talk, the more will your partner speak. The more he invests in you. The more he appreciates you. The more is your company pleasant to him. The stronger is your friendship.
Carnegie teaches to change the position of “I am important” to the position of “You are important”.
No matter what mood you have, the mood of others – that is important. Smile, especially when you meet first. Your bad mood is nobody’s business.
No matter what problems you have, the problems of others are more important (and how you can solve them). Ask the right questions and listen carefully.
You know your world view. If you tell it to others, you have nothing to gain. And when you find out the world view of your friend, you’ll become rich. To know something new about a person, show how important he is.
“You are important” is the position of a diplomat. When people feel their importance, they are open to you: invite you to visit them, share their secrets with you, recommend you to their friends. To become a friend of someone, show him that he is important and good.
It’s difficult to imitate sincere interest in others. It is not like nodding your head and saying “uh-huh”. You have to make an effort: to understand the words of the interlocutor, adequately respond to them and remember at the next conversation. It is extremely annoying when you are explaining your views for fifteen minutes, and at the next meeting, people ask you the same questions. Immediately appear feeling that you’ve spent so much time and effort on this person, and he spat and trampled everything.
According to Carnegie, there is nothing more valuable than the people around you. Open this treasure trove.
Be generous for praise and stingy for criticism.
Under any praise, a person hears “You’re cool”. Even if you say “Your department conducted a cool quarterly report”. So praise profusely and sincerely (but always for the reason: do not turn praise into a farce).
A truly Carnegie trick is to note something good before every critical remark and avoid using “but”:
It’s a very unspecific idea, and we do not have enough money to implement it. → Interesting idea. Now let’s flesh out the budget.
Buyers won’t understand it! → It’s rather beautiful. I worry, however, that it would be too avant-garde for buyers. What do you think?
Assume that the person you are working with acted with the best intentions. If you do not agree with what he did, it does not mean that the person is bad. You might have misunderstood something.
Do not hesitate to ask open-ended questions:
Discounts can not be given! → Why do you propose to give them a discount?
What nonsense! → How does it help us?
It is still nonsense! → Got better, but I still do not understand.
Some leaders who genuinely despise this principle. They believe that criticism is the highest value in the work, that only through criticism employee tempers and grows.
They are right. Employees grow professionally only through criticism.
But not only grow. They also resent, procrastinate, put themselves in a defensive position and start doing everything just for spite, turn off the head and eventually quit and move to another job, where criticism is not so tough.
Steel bosses expect steel subordinates. But people are generally not steel.
The problem of excessive criticism is solved by a simple rule: start the critical remark with praise. Before you say “It’s all completely wrong”, you can at least say “It’s good that you did it”.
You’re a bad sales manager → You’re manager, but the level of your sales is too low.
You’re irresponsible. → I see that you work hard, but some of your solutions seem irresponsible.
You seem slow. → You’re doing well, but somehow slow. Do you have any difficulties?
Special trick: Tell your interlocutor that you’ve also made such a mistake and you understand him. But make sure that it does not sound condescending. It’s a good trick, but it loses strength from frequent use.
Do not worry. When I started I, I made mistakes constantly.
Of course, it is necessary to develop further, but the first time I did it even worse.
Even if you just say that you are not perfect, you will increase the level of interlocutor’s confidence:
Sometimes I also fail to meet a deadline. I understand that it’s not an easy task.
Tell someone that he is a good man, and he will try to live up to the expectations:
John is our best specialist in vacuum cleaners. He will help you to find what you are looking for.
Alex, your English is very good. No one will be able to translate this better than you?
You’ll work with Jim, our most responsible manager. He will help you.
It worth nothing for you, and John, Alex and Jim will try their best to meet the expectations that you have created in other people.
Focus on good qualities of a person, not bad. Say that the problem is easily solved. The most important thing is that people are great are able to cope with everything.
The question arises: Is it possible to see only the best in people? How about those who do not perform perfectly? You can not praise everyone you meet, it’s nonsense.
Carnegie’s approach was not created in order to follow it to the letter. This is a vital position and philosophy, not a set of template phrases for all occasions.
The basis of this position in life is to be attentive to others. Do not flatter, do not imitate interest – just be attentive. This principle does not negate the assertion of personal interests, the possibility of conflict and dispute and does not violate personal boundaries.
Sounds simple. But being attentive to others requires a huge effort.
Carnegie principles help to develop new healthy habits: listen to others, do not judge, criticize without resentment, tell inspiring words. These habits won’t appear immediately after reading the book. And they are very difficult to apply consciously: you need to be a good actor to “turn friendliness” in a second. Friendliness is a way of life.
The habit of friendliness is formed gradually and naturally if you carefully read Carnegie, take notes and return to the material at least once a year.
What happens if you do not follow these principles? Let’s imagine two scenarios.
The first one – you decide that all these principles are nonsense, and normal work needs to be tough and direct. You can not smile at the person who is unpleasant to you. You pay them (or you are paid) not for smiles. You are the hammer of justice, a ray of prudence in this swamp and only your brilliant mind can light all the way. And here you are given a project.
The second one – you decide that people around you are good and smart. You are endlessly interested in them. You know that everyone is talented in their own way, and your mission – to uncover this talent. You like them and they respond to you in return. And here you are given a project.
The paradox is that in both scenarios, the work will be done.
But in the first variant, fewer people will gravitate to you and more to other people. At some point, someone will change a job or move to another department. Not because you’re bad, but because the others are a little bit kinder.
Now imagine what would happen if you have successfully passed the project, praising and encouraging all the participants. You go to the bar to celebrate it. And then leave the company, take away your friendly team and open your own business. Develop it, buy competitors and become a giant of the industry.
Interestingly, the difference between the first and second outcome is a little more attention to others. And right criticism:
This is bad, very bad. You must finish everything off. → It’s great. Now let’s finish it off.
Steve Jobs did not do it. But you are not Steve Jobs.