A book written in the 30’s about how to get your own way… that’s bound to be evil isn’t it?
A slightly dogeared copy of Dale Carnegie’s ‘How To Win Friends And Influence People’ * has been knocking around my house for a few years, we’d purchased it as an oddity and although I’d thought of picking it up a few times I’d always gone for something a bit more modern.
What finally made me open it? One day it seemed everyone was talking about it. I’d written a post about how it was better to be nice online and someone pointed me towards the book, Ted Rubin mentioned it in a podcast I listened to and it popped up in some articles I read.
Perhaps it’s not an evil book after all?
Running your own business in the 21st century is hard, we are told that we should be no nonsense, put our foot down, say it like it is. Good advice? Perhaps, you need a certain amount of resilience to survive but are we forgetting to be nice.
Essentially that’s what this book is about. It’s about how to deal with people and get the best from them. It’s not about manipulation as I imagined, it’s just about treating other human beings in a way that enhances their lives rather than causing them annoyance, shame or upset.
So yes we need to be strong and resilient but sometimes the best way to be those things is to be decent to people.
Nice is such an insipid word but being nice could well be the key to success. When you are nice, friendly, helpful, go out of your way to add value to your relationships, people will reciprocate. Have you ever met someone with a permanent smile on their face? You can’t help but feel warm towards them.
Make people feel important
According to the author people need to feel important, their ego needs to know that they have a place in your world. Something as simple as remembering someone’s name, and using it can make all the difference to your relationship with them.
Hug your haters
There will be those who take exception to you in life and some of these people can get in the way of you progression. Instead of increasing the friction go on a charm offensive, make that person feel important and you will begin to modify their impression of you.
Walk in their shoes
When you find yourself in conflict with someone try looking at the situation from their point of view. Identify what it is that is triggering the conflict and tell them you understand. When they see that you understand your point of view they will be more receptive towards yours.
Ask others for advice
It’s very arrogant of us to walk around believing we know everything. It’s always a good idea to widen your point of view and find out what others think. Not only will they respect you for listening to their ideas but they could become powerful allies in the future if you act on their advice.
Most of this stuff will sound obvious to you, many of us have been practicing these techniques with out being aware that we were. Knowing about them, being told they work will remind us to do it more.
I was surprised at this book. It is a book about being nice but what’s strange is that although it was written in the 30s, it’s also a book that sits neatly into the internet world.
If you have managed social media for your business or someone else, you will know that sometimes it’s hard to deal with negativity, whether it’s a complaint, a snide comment or just someone having a bad day. A good community manager delights in being nice, polite in the face of attacks and this ‘How to win friends…’ is a good primer for this.
Whether it’s a sales meeting, a disagreement with a friend or dealing with 100’s of consumers online, following Mr Carnegie’s formula will mean you will be happier and so will those you are dealing with.
One note, if you do read this book I recommend getting a recent, updated edition. Although it’s quaint to see examples of letters rather than emails some of the content is outdated, particularly if you are female. You have to remember that this is a book written in the 30s, a time when it was almost unimaginable that a wife wouldn’t be a home maker who’s interests, apparently, stretched to wanting a fur coat.
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