Mastering Interpersonal Skills

This post is basically a summary of Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends & Influence People". I think we should read this book at least once in a lifetime.

Dale Breckenridge Carnegie (1888-1955)

To handle people..

Principle #1 - Don't criticize, condemn or complain.
If you want to gather honey, don't kick over the beehive. Instead of condemning people, let's try to understand them. Let's try to figure out why they do what they do. That's a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness. To know all is to forgive all. As Dr. Johnson said: "God himself, sir, does not propose to judge man until the end of his days." Why should you and I?

Principle #2 - Give honest and sincere appreciation.
Emerson said: "Every man I meet is my superior in some way, In that, I learn of him." If that was true of Emerson, isn't it likely to be a thousand times more true of you and me? Let's cease thinking of our accomplishments, our wants. Let's try to figure out the other person's good points. Then forget flattery. Give honest, sincere appreciation. Be "hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise," and people will cherish your words and treasure them and repeat them over a lifetime. The only way you can get people to do anything is by giving them what they want.

Principle #3 - Arouse in the other person an eager want.
The only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it. Remember: "First, arouse in the other person an eager want. He who can do this has the whole world with him. He who cannot walks a lonely way."

To be likeable..

Principle #4 - 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."

Principle #5 - Smile.
Actions speak louder than words, and a smile says, "I like you, You make me happy. I am glad to see you."

Principle #6 - Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
We should be aware of the magic contained in a name and realize that this single item is wholly and completely owned by the person with whom we are dealing and nobody else. From the waitress to the senior executive, the name will work magic as we deal with others.

Principle #7 - Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
If you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that other persons will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments.

Principle #8 - Talk in terms of the other person's interests.
Everyone who was ever a guest of Theodore Roosevelt was astonished at the range and diversity of his knowledge. Whether his visitor was a cowboy or a Rough Rider, a New York politician or a diplomat, Roosevelt knew what to say. And how was it done? The answer was simple. Whenever Roosevelt expected a visitor, he sat up late the night before, reading up on the subject in which he knew his guest was particularly interested. For Roosevelt knew, as all leaders know, that the royal road to a person's heart is to talk about the things he or she treasures most.

Principle #9 - Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.
"Talk to people about themselves," said Disraeli, one of the shrewdest men who ever ruled the British Empire. "Talk to people about themselves and they will listen for hours." That is how to make people like you instantly.

To win people to your way of thinking..

Principle #10 - The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
You can't win an argument. You can't because if you lose it, you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it. And then, there's magic, positive magic, in such phrases as: "I may be wrong. I frequently am. Let's examine the facts."

Principle #11 - Show respect for the other person's opinions. 
King Akhtoi of Egypt gave his son some shrewd advice that is sorely needed today. "Be diplomatic," counseled the King. "It will help you gain your point." In other words, don't argue with your customer or your spouse or your adversary. Don't tell them they are wrong, don't get them stirred up. Use a little diplomacy.

Principle #12 - If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
When we are right, let's try to win people gently and tactfully to our way of thinking, and when we are wrong - and that will be surprisingly often, if we are honest with ourselves - let's admit our mistakes quickly and with enthusiasm. Remember the old proverb: "By fighting you never get enough, but by yielding you get more than you expected."

Principle #13 - Begin in a friendly way.
"If you come at me with your fists doubled," said Woodrow Wilson, "I think I can promise you that mine will double as fast as yours; but if you come to me and say, 'Let us sit down and take counsel together, and, if we differ from each other, understand why it is that we differ, just what the points at issue are,' we will presently find that we are not so far apart after all, that the points on which we differ are few and the points on which we agree are many, and that if we only have the patience and the candor and the desire to get together, we will get together."

Principle #14 - Get the other person saying "yes, yes" immediately.
In talking with people, don't begin by discussing the things on which you differ. Begin by emphasizing - and keep on emphasizing - the things on which you agree. Keep emphasizing, if possible, that you are both striving for the same end and that your only difference is one of method and not of purpose.

Principle #15 - Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
"I was good at my work and proud of it," Henrietta told one of our classes. " But instead of my colleagues sharing my triumphs, they seemed to resent them. I wanted to be liked by these people. I really wanted them to be my friends. After listening to some of the suggestions made in this course, I started to talk about myself less and listen more to my associates. They also had things to boast about and were more excited about telling me about their accomplishments than about listening to my boasting. Now, when we have some time to chat, I ask them to share their joys with me, and I only mention my achievements when they ask."

Principle #16 - Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
Don't you have much more faith in ideas that you discover for yourself than in ideas that are handed to you on a silver platter? If so, isn't it bad judgment to try to ram your opinions down the throats of other people? Isn't it wiser to make suggestions - and let the other person think out the conclusion?

Principle #17 - Try honestly to see things from the other's point of view.
Remember that other people may be totally wrong. But they don't think so. Don't condemn them. Any fool can do that. Try to understand them. "I would rather walk the sidewalk in front of a person's office for two hours before an interview," said Dean Donham of the Harvard Business School, "than step into that office without a perfectly clear idea of what I was going to say and what that person - from my knowledge of his or her interests and motives - was likely to answer."

Principle #18 - Be sympathetic with the other person's ideas and desires.
There is a magic phrase that would stop arguments, eliminate ill feeling, create good will, and make the other person listen attentively: "I don't blame you one iota for feeling as you do. If I were you I would undoubtedly feel just as you do." Three-fourths of the people you will ever meet are hungering and thirsting for sympathy. Give it to them, and they will love you.

Principle #19 - Appeal to the nobler motives.
J. Pierpont Morgan observed, in one of his analytical interludes, that a person usually has two reasons for doing a thing: one that sounds good and a real one. The person himself will think of the real reason. You don't need to emphasize that. But all of us, being idealists at heart, like to think of motives that sound good. So, in order to change people, appeal to the nobler motives.

Principle #20 - Dramatize your ideas.
This is the day of dramatization. Merely stating a truth isn't enough. The truth has to be made vivid, interesting, dramatic. You have to use showmanship. The movies do it. Television does it. And you will have to do it if you want attention.

Principle #21 - Throw down a challenge.
"The way to get things done," say Schwab, "is to stimulate competition. I do not mean in a sordid, money-getting way, but in the desire to excel." The one major factor that motivated people was the work itself. If the work was exciting and interesting, the worker looked forward to doing it and was motivated to do a good job. That is what every successful person loves: the game. The chance for self-expression. The chance to prove his or her worth, to excel, to win. That is what makes foot-races and hog-calling and pie-eating contests. The desire to excel. The desire for a feeling of importance.

To change..

Principle #22 - Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
It is always easier to listen to unpleasant things after we have heard some praise of our good points. Beginning with praise is like the dentist who begins his work with Novocain. The patient still gets a drilling, but the Novocain is pain-killing. If you must find fault, that is the way to begin.

Principle #23 - Call attention to people's mistakes indirectly.
Charles Schwab was passing through one of his steel mills one day at noon when he came across some of his employees smoking. Immediately above their heads was a sign that said "No Smoking." He walked over to the men, handed each one a cigar, and said, "I'll appreciate it, boys, if you will smoke these on the outside." They knew that he knew that they had broken a rule - and they admired him because he said nothing about it and gave them a little present and made them feel important. Couldn't keep from loving a man like that, could you?

Principle #24 - Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the others.
It isn't nearly so difficult to listen to a recital of your faults if the person criticizing begins by humbly admitting that he, too, is far from impeccable.

Principle #25 - Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
Asking questions not only makes an order more palatable; it often stimulates the creativity of the persons whom you ask. People are more likely to accept an order if they have had a part in the decision that caused the order to be issued.

Principle #26 - Let the other person save face.
Even if we are right and the other person is definitely wrong, we only destroy ego by causing someone to lose face. The legendary French aviation pioneer and author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote: "I have no right to say or do anything that diminishes a man in his own eyes. What matters is not what I think of him, but what he thinks of himself. Hurting a man in his dignity is a crime."

Principle #27 - Praise every improvement.
Everybody likes to be praised, but when praise is specific, it comes across as sincere - not something the other person may be saying just to make one feel good. Remember, we all crave appreciation and recognition, and will do almost anything to get it. But nobody wants insincerity. Nobody wants flattery. Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.

Principle #28 - Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
If you want to improve a person in a certain spect, act as though that particular trait were already one of his or her outstanding characteristics. Shakespeare said "Assume a virtue, if you have it not." And it might be well to assume and state openly that other people have the virtue you want them to develop. Give them a fine reputation to live up to, and they will make prodigious efforts rather than see you disillusioned.

Principle #29 - Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
Tell your child, your spouse, or your employee that he or she is stupid or dumb at a certain thing, has no gift for it, and is doing it all wrong, and you have destroyed almost every incentive to try to improve. But use the opposite technique - be liberal with your encouragement, make the thing seem easy to do, let the other person know that you have faith in his ability to do it, that he has an undeveloped flair for it - and he will practice until the dawn comes in the window in order to excel.

Principle #30 - Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.
We could give a curt order like this: "John, we have customers coming in tomorrow and I need the stockroom cleaned out. So sweep it out, put the stock in neat piles on the shelves and polish the counter." Or we could express the same idea by showing John the benefits he will get from doing the task: "John, we have a job that should be completed right away. If it is done now, we won't be faced with it later. I am bringing some customers in tomorrow to show our facilities. I would like to show them the stockroom, but it is in poor shape. If you could sweep it out, put the stock in neat piles on the shelves, and polish the counter, it would make us look efficient and you will have done your part to provide a good company image." Assuming you know that John has pride in the way his stockroom looks and is interested in contributing to the company image, he will be more likely to be cooperative. It also will have been pointed out to John that the job would have to be done eventually and by doing it now, he won't be faced with it later. Always make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
― Matthew 7:12

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