I’m sure a number of you have either heard of, or read, Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. It has been in circulation since 1936 and there is good reason for that. I know a lot of people say “Ah, that’s too American rah! rah! for me.” or “That is a bunch of self-help nonsense and should only be read by depressed salespeople!” The fact is that the book is rather “human”. A lot of what is said applies to basic, human interaction and feelings that we all experience each day. That is the main reason this book has been around for so long as it relates to those both inside and outside of the business world. Sure, there are some points made that are a bit of a stretch, and some that aren’t universally applicable, but once you sift through those there are a lot of great ideas from which business people can benefit.
Some interesting points from the book
There are many other great points in the book that relate to daily business situations. Here are just a few. (In this “Secret to Success” download, there’s a full overview of Dale Carnegie’s 30 principles from “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, and the principles from “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”.)
Talk in terms of other people’s interests
People love to talk about themselves. Ask a few questions to get people talking about what they like, attentively listen, and then you will be surprised at how much they like you. Do a little research on what the other person you are trying to influence likes and show some genuine interest before diving into the business issue.
It is easy to immediately tell someone they are wrong when they make a mistake. This may lead to resentment or possibly hatred towards you. Next time, take a minute to try to understand where they are coming from and why they see things the way they do. Don’t point out your colleagues mistakes each time, but ask some questions and allow the person to come to the conclusion that it could be a bit better on their own.
Say a person’s name
Everyone likes to hear their name. Take time to learn people’s names and remember them no matter how “unimportant” they may seem to your immediate needs. By knowing people’s names and saying hello in your client’s office, it could help you close the big deal as you would be surprised how valuable the opinions of others in a company are.
I know, you don’t want to walk around smiling all the time because you will feel fake and uncomfortable. But try it a few more times a day when you normally wouldn’t and see how others respond. You may be surprised.
Begin in a friendly way
Many times we start a discussion, call, or email with the issue we are trying to solve. Take some time and make some small talk or say something complimentary before conducting business. It will take people off the defensive and make it easier to have difficult conversations. Next time you want to file a complaint or negotiate a lower price, reiterate the positives you have experienced with that company before asking for something. Many people will be happy to help someone they perceive as being friendly and not aggressive.
Admit if you are wrong quickly
This is hard to do at times, but it goes a long way in getting the other person to see where you are coming from and then softening their stance when it comes to a disagreement. If you know your boss is angry about a mistake you made, don’t try to come up with excuses but instead come right out and admit the fault and what you should have done. They will respect you for it and most likely be less hard on you.