Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People will be celebrating its 75th anniversary this coming year, and its teachings are just as appropriate today as they ever were. Why? Because you can’t put an expiration date on good advice about the human spirit. Unlike the manipulative nature the title may suggest, Carnegie was a true people person, and practiced what he preached when it came to communicating and understanding people.
I recently spoke with Dave Mather at the Carnegie Group in Ontario, Canada, who has taught Carnegie’s principles all over the world. Mather tells me that part of being successful in any career is learning how to relate to others, maintain a positive attitude, take criticism, and dish out an honest compliment. These are ten timeless ideas based on Carnegie’s teachings, on how to be truly happy and successful in your job…
1. Become an approachable person. While it’s futile to try to change the intentions of another person, it is possible to adjust your thinking and present a more approachable demeanor. “Your objective is to become a more approachable person,” says Mather. “Not to get the other person to do something for you, or to be the way you want them to be.”
2. Give honest, sincere appreciation. This builds your image faster than any other idea. After all, our jobs demand cooperation and effort from others. “Everyone likes to hear a compliment,” says Mather. “And it’s not manipulative when it’s sincere.”
3. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain. Criticizing the other person not only damages that person’s self-image, but puts a dent in your image. “I’m all for not deliberately and consciously being a jerk, but on the other hand, some people can be over sensitized to criticism,” Mather says. “People also need to hear quality feedback on where they can improve.”
4. Arouse in the other person an eager want. People do things for their reasons, not ours. Tell them why your ideas will benefit them, and you’ll be surprised how much cooperation develops. “The only way to influence other people is to talk about what they want,” says Mather.
5. Become genuinely interested in other people. Regardless of the physical assets your company may have, it’s the people who make it successful. “Today’s generation likes to get to know people and network, and they don’t mind being a part of a team,” says Mather. “It’s important to understand that being interested in, and getting to know others, has always been mutually beneficial.”
6. Smile. Whether you’re pleasant to be around often depends less on the situation than it does on your behavior. “Dr. John G. Geier, Ph.D., founder of DiSC Personal Profile System, conducted research which indicated that if you smile all the time, you won’t be taken seriously,” says Mather. “If you never smile, you’ll be perceived as cold and unapproachable, however, if you smile appropriately you’ll be seen as both friendly and approachable.”
7. Remember a person’s name is the sweetest and most important sound in any language. Respect and acceptance can be based on such a simple thing as remembering a person’s name and using it where appropriate. “Knowing and calling others by name recognizes them as unique individuals,” says Mather. “This is something we all strive for.”
8. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves — a business runs on information, and what better way to learn what’s going on than by following this principle? How you listen says volumes about your thoughts. “Most people think they are good listeners,” says Mather. “But more often than not, they aren’t.”
9. Talk in terms of the other person’s interest. We think about ourselves most of the time. Why not create a stronger relationship by putting away our own concerns for a while. “If you make the mistake of shifting the context to getting something from another person, you’re engaging in a form of manipulation,” says Mather. “Establish a genuine interest in people, understand their point of view, and respond in a respectful manner.”
10. Make the other person feel important, and do it sincerely. In our dealings with others, this shows we appreciate their contributions, and we build a strong bond helping us withstand the pressures of day-to-day struggles. “We are built as sensitive, creative beings,” says Mather. “Show people they make a bigger impact than they realize.”
Mather reminds us that this approach is not a solution to your relationship problems, but is rather a process in choosing how you relate to others (compatibility), in hopes of eliciting a response that will become more productive and successful in your work. “We have all kinds of choices—some good, some not so good,” says Mather. “Literally millions of people say this approach significantly enhances their business results and helps them live a fuller life, by enriching their relationships.”