How to Win Friends and Influence People

A business classic… one which i avoided for many years, I think deep down that was because

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I didn’t like the idea of learning how to ‘win’ friends, and the notion of ‘influencing’ people seemed something negative. Somehow it suggested getting someone to do something they didn’t want to do, potentially in an underhand way.

However, I’ve been ‘reading’ audio books on my phone whilst commuting on my bike / car, doing odd jobs around the house, and when winding down before going to sleep, and felt I would give it a go.

The book was written many years ago, and although some of the language is in some parts out-dated, the principles seem very sound. They all feel so very simple, and obvious, yet I question why I am not applying them!

The book lists ‘what this book will do to you’ – I’m not going to list them as each person will probably get different things from it. I got a feeling that I could be doing more with the potential, ability, skills and passion I have already, especially in terms of business/career and in terms of the happiness of my family.

Out of the 30 principles for handling people, making them like you, influencing them, and leadership, the ones that stood out for me most were:

  • Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain
  • Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  • Become genuinely interested in other people.
  • Start with questions to which the other person will answer yes.
  • Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
  • Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
  • Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
  • Praise every improvement.

They look so simple, and obvious, but when I reflected honestly, I didn’t do the above often enough. It is tempting to correct people if they say something you know is incorrect, even if that is in public and actually wouldn’t benefit anyone by doing so, especially them. Using other people’s name when speaking with them is something I don’t do enough.

I always try and see other people’s point of view, and asking questions can often uncover what the true route cause (positive or negative) may be for a decision or action that someone has taken – which may have been different to what I expected!

Two points which have helped me with my parenting of my boys, and coaching in my fitness classes has been to praise every improvement, regardless of the size, and to start by asking questions the other person will say yes to. This has been particularly helpful when my toddler has been answering everything with the word “NO”. Asking him three consecutive questions whereby he answers “yes” seems to have a powerful impact on the tone of the conversation, and it can help him to calm down and articulate more easily what is actually frustrating or upsetting him, or what he actually wants.

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