My husband recently found an old edition (1939 printing) of Dale Carnegie’s classic book: How to Win Friends and Influence People. We were thrilled. This is one of those books that I have read and re-read many times, each time finding another gem that fits my present moment.
While getting ready to start working with a leader that has a hard time eliciting collaboration and building positive relationships, I decided to review again some of Carnegie’s time tested wisdom.
Not surprisingly, when reading his stories and comments I was impressed anew with his timeless wisdom on how to be successful at handling people:
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” ~Dale Carnegie
This is old and tested advice. You have probably heard it as many times as I have. It can be reduced to two words. To become interested in other people you have to STOP certain things and START practicing others:
STOP criticizing, condemning or complaining
Leaders don’t need to start a negative spiral that will only get negative results. Nobody likes to be constantly criticized and made to feel as if they can never do anything right or come up with any good ideas. If you take this path, your people will make more mistakes, get sick more often, resent you, resist your attempts at influencing, and slow down productivity.
“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain --and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” Dale Carnegie,
Instead of condemning people, try to understand them.
Instead of criticizing people, try to figure out why they do what they do, and what they could do different.
Instead of complaining about them, put yourself in their shoes.
You will breed sympathy, tolerance, and kindness.
START showing genuine interest in your people
Relationship building is one of the most important leadership activity you can engage on. Your influence goes only as far as the quality of your relationships.
The key word for building those relationships is genuine. Genuine interest is real, free from pretense, sincere. It’s not counterfeit, it’s authentic. The only connections that work are the ones with people you truly care about. If you don’t care, people will see through you and it will not work.
In order to show care and be genuine, you have to direct your attention away from yourself and focus on the other person.
Carnegie tells a story about Howard Thurston, a great magician of his time. He asked the popular magician what he considered the secret of his phenomenal success, which had net him almost $2 million in profit (about 20 millions in today's dollars). Thurston said he had a genuine interest in people. Every time he went on stage he told himself the following:
“I’m grateful because these people come to see me. They make it possible for me to make my living in a very agreeable way. I’m going to give them the very best I possibly can. I love my audience.”
Remember. . .
What would happen if every day on your way to work you said something similar to yourself? It could be something like:
“I’m grateful I have such an interesting job. My people make it possible for me to be a leader and be successful. I’m going to support them in the very best way I possibly can. I love my people!”
Try Carnegie’s recipe for successful relationship building. STOP criticizing and START being genuinely interested in people. I challenge you to give it two months and see what happens!