I have recently read the book How to Win Friends and Influence People – a book that is probably one of the most famous self-improvement books ever published.
From reading a number of self-improvement or business books, at some point How to Win Friends… is usually referenced at some point, but despite this I had never bothered to read it until last week.
And it is very rare I say this, but I feel that some of the ideas in this could change my life for the better…
The problem with being an introvert:
It seemed apt timing to start reading this book – I am fully aware that one of my weaknesses is being able to express myself to others and two incidents in the last month made me realise that I need to make more effort working with people:
- Firstly, I was told by my manager although I was very good at my job, I needed to learn how to ‘sell’ myself to others that I was good at my job if I wanted to progress to the next level.
I understood what he meant – I’ve always been a person who just keeps their head down and lets the work do the talking.
I was never impressed by those who constantly had to show to everyone what they had done – I thought that was childish, like they were seeking validation. Although I would never be like them, I needed to find a nice middle ground.
- Secondly, I left work one Friday evening wishing everyone a good weekend. Not one person said a word back as I left
I thought “What a bunch of ignorant bastards…” and if I am being honest, over the coming weekend it really upset me. I had never worked somewhere people were so unfriendly.
But then I started thinking “Is there something I could be doing different to make my team more responsive?”
And then I wrote down all the ideas I had to help network with people in the team better.
The Book Layout:
During that same weekend I read this post by the blog Self-Development Addict and this finally inspired me to download How to Win Friends and Influence People onto my Kindle and instantly started reading.
The book is split into four sections, each containing a number of suggested points with examples on how to do what the book title promises:
Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
- Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.
- Give honest and sincere appreciation.
- Arouse in the other person an eager want.
Six Ways to Make People Like You
- Become genuinely interested in other people.
- Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
- Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
- Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.
- Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.
Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking
- The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
- Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say “You’re wrong.”
- If you’re wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
- Begin in a friendly way.
- Start with questions to which the other person will answer yes.
- Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
- Let the other person feel the idea is his or hers.
- Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
- Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
- Appeal to the nobler motives.
- Dramatize your ideas.
- Throw down a challenge.
Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment
- Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
- Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
- Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
- Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
- Let the other person save face.
- Praise every improvement.
- Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
- Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
- Make the other person happy about doing what you suggest.
Application in real life:
As you can see it’s a hell of a lot to remember – I see why people keep needing to refer back to the book.
I didn’t carefully study each chapter and memorise all the points. I just read through at normal speed and let certain things sink in.
Some things I felt I was already doing, some of the ideas were relatively simple and could be tried soon after reading.
For example I started walking round with a (genuine) smile – sometimes I got a smile in return, sometimes I got nothing…
I also started giving appreciation, which made me feel slightly uncomfortable as I felt like I was sucking up – an attribute which I cannot do.
But to my surprise I got a few people thanking me for nice, positive feedback. I don’t know if I will get any benefit from doing this in return, but it just felt great knowing I had made someones day.
Thoughts on the book:
I managed to read the book in less than a week. To me that is a clear indication of how much I enjoy a book – I made good progress taking as many opportunities as possible to read and even though I got to certain points where I thought “that would never work nowadays” overall I highly recommend giving it a read and looking at what works for you
Will it change my life for the better? Who knows? I will keep referring back to the book and attempting to reinforce some of the ideas.