A few months ago, I asked Dan Pink for book recommendations. He replied with an excellent list: “6 books on the Art and Science of Sales.” The second book on Pink’s list is Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People, first published in 1936. Pink writes that “Some readers might find Carnegie’s advice dated and a bit cheesy. But beneath the prose’s peppy surface lurks wisdom, one reason the book continues to sell seven full decades after its publication.”
To that end, I’ve re-posted a few passages from my favorite section of Carnegie’s book: “Six Ways to make People Like You.”
1) Become genuinely interested in other people
Alfred Adler, the famous Viennese psychologist, wrote a book entitled What Life Should mean to You. In that book he says: “It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others. It is from among such individuals that all human failures spring.” You may read scores of erudite tomes on psychology without coming across a statement more significant for you and for me.
You don’t feel like smiling? Then what? Two things. First, force yourself to smile. If you are alone, force yourself to whistle or hum a tune or sing. Act as if you were already happy, and that will tend to make you happy. Here is the way the philosopher William James put it: “Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not.”
3) Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language
When [Andrew Carnegie] was a boy back in Scotland, he got hold of a rabbit, a mother rabbit. Presto! He soon had a whole nest of little rabbits—and nothing to feed them. But he had a brilliant idea. He told the boys and girls in the neighborhood that if they would go out and pull enough clover and dandelions to feed the rabbits, he would name the bunnies in their honor.
Years later, he made millions by using the same psychology in business. For example, he wanted to sell steel rails to the Pennsylvania Railroad. J. Edgar Thomson was the president of the Pennsylvania Railroad then. So Carnegie built a huge steel mill in Pittsburgh and called it the “Edgar Thomson Steel Works.”… When the Pennsylvania Railroad needed steel rails, where do you suppose J. Edgar Thomson bought them?
4) Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves
Isaac F. Marcosson, a journalist who interviewed hundreds of celebrities, declared that many people fail to make a favorable impression because they don’t listen attentively. “They have been so much concerned with what they are going to say next that they do not keep their ears open… Very important people have told me that they prefer good listeners to good talkers, but the ability to listen seems rarer than almost any other good trait.”
5) Talk in terms of the other person’s interest
Mr. Duvernoy had been trying to sell bread to a certain New York hotel. He had called on the manager every week for four years… “Then,” said Mr. Duvernoy, “after studying human relations, I resolved to change my tactics. I decided to find out what interested this man—what caught his enthusiasm. I discovered he belonged to a society of hotel executives called the Hotel Greeters of America… So when I saw him the next day, I began talking about the Greets. What a response I got. What a response!… I had said nothing about bread. But a few days later, the steward of his hotel phoned me to come over with samples and prices.”
6) Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely.
The unvarnished truth is that almost all the people you meet feel themselves superior to you in some way, and a sure way to their hearts is to let them realize in some subtle way that you recognize their importance, and recognize it sincerely. Remember what Emerson said: “Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him.”
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