A Book A Month: How To Win Friends & Influence People

A goal I set on my 27th year of life was to read one book each month for the year. After a couple years of following news and current events very closely it has become apparent to me that I haven’t done a good job developing my own ideas, thoughts, and positions on things that are happening in the world. It has also become apparent that I can’t even be confident what I’m reading on the internet is truthful. I’ve always heard that history repeats itself and continually hear that successful people read books. These reasons have inspired me to use my twenty seventh to become a little more aware of the past, introduce me to new ideas, and be generally more thoughtful. Hopefully, this puts me on a path that will allow me to be successful (and/or lucky) when opportunities present themselves. 

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

High Up Web Dev - How To Win Friends & Influence People

Month & Book #1 was brought to my attention when my girlfriend got hired as a sales rep for Yelp. One of the book recommendations they had was “How To Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. This book was one of the first best selling self help books and was published in 1936, after years of teaching public speaking courses.

With four main parts containing small chapters, or principles, it was easy to knock out small sections and a time and not feel like I had to sit put in a long session each time I sat down to read. Each principle is explained and then demonstrated through short anecdotal stories from people who have taken Carnegie's course and are making an effort to put his advice to action.

One thing I enjoyed about this book was the overlap in each section.  The repetitive nature allows you to get the idea without having to reread over and over again.

Part 1

Fundamental Techniques In Handling People

People, even ones who are trying to handle criticism well, don't respond well when they feel they are being attacked.  It puts them in a defensive position from the outset.  If you give someone a someone appreciation, it makes them more receptive to suggestions.  A small compliment will show them you recognize they have value and will get them on your side.  It must be honest and sincere though, or you make come off as manipulative.  Many people take more pride in their own idea's than others, their pride pushes them to want to be right.  If you can talk in ways that suggest certain ideas and get them to arrive at that conclusion on their own, they are more likely to put forth effort to make it happen.

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Part 2

Six Ways To Make People Like You

Ask yourself: do you enjoy talking to people that drone on and on about themselves?  Most people don't.  Show genuine interest in others and in time you'll be able to talk about yourself.  Smile, its contagious.  The thing that stood out to me most was a section talking about talking on the phone.  You can almost feel if the person on the other line is smiling by their tone of voice, and it much more enjoyable talking to them when you feel that positive, smiley attitude.  It makes a huge difference when you remember their name, it makes people feel as if they stood out.  Be an active listener.  Let the other person talk themselves out and interject when you can and let them follow up.  Talk in terms of the other person's interest.  This will get them engaged in the conversation and you'll probably learn a thing or two, or at the very least you'll get their view on the topic (use that for later).  Make them feel important - if you follow the previous five principles that is bound to happen.

Part 3

Win People To Your Way Of Thinking

 Avoid an argument when you can.  Many people aren't going to change their minds very easily, and certainly not in a heated argument.  Instead try and avoid it.  Let them get their stuff off their chest and show respect their opinions.  Never say "you're wrong" in an act of good faith.  If you're wrong, then admit it quickly and emphatically.  Then, maybe next time, you'll have a chance of winning them over.  Begin conversations in a friendly way.  Ask questions that get them saying yes immediately.  This will make them more likely to say yes when you eventually get to your proposal.  Starting conversations with "no" gets them in a defensive mode where they want to protect their ego & pride.  Let the other person do the talking.  If you are not willing to listen to them how you can expect them to listen to you?  Incept them.  Plant the idea in their head and make them think they came up with it.  Try to honestly see their point of view you and be sympathetic to it.  Appeal to nobler motives.  Let them know you believe they are sincere, honest, truthful, and willing to the right thing.  Then, frame your proposal in a way that makes it seem like it's right thing to do.  Dramatize your idea; get their attention.  Throw down a challenge.  People want to win, so create friendly competition.  In business & tech, this is manifested in 'gamification'.

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Part 4

Be A Leader

A Leaders Job Often Includes Changing Your People's Attitudes & Behavior

Begin with praise and appreciate to open them up and be more receptive.  If you need to call out a mistake don't do it directly.  This doesn't mean don't get to the point, but you can get the point across in a gentler way by saying something positive and tacking on a suggestion at the end.  Pointing out your own mistakes shows others you don't think your perfect.  It opens their mind to the thought that they may not be perfect either.  Rather than calling someone out directly, ask them an pointed open ended question and let them call themselves out.  If someone makes a mistake, let them save face.  They are less likely to hold a grudge and resent you, and more likely to make up for it in the future.  Recognize the small improvements and encourage them to keep the momentum going.  Give them a reputation to live up to.  Do this by talking about how good they've done in the past, point out other positive things others have said about them, and give them something to live up to.. they'll want to.  Make the fault seem easy to correct.  Don't make the problem seem daunting.  By an inch it's a sinch, by a yard it's hard.  Make the other person happy about your suggestion by pointing out how they will benefit. 

One quote that came up continuously that sums up much of the book is: "Be hearty in your approbation and be lavish in your praise".

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