How to Make Friends and Influence People

I’ve been mulling over these first few chapters for weeks. I’ve spent my early mornings walking down to the bay and back while listening to this audiobook.

It’s refreshing to hear a man write in a style that predates my own generation. I find the dignity in his voice and style strangely comforting. It probably helps that the narrator sounds like an older, established gentleman.

Let’s dive in to chapter one. . .

Avoid Criticism and Complaining

We are not dealing with creatures of logic, but of emotion. It’s important to recognize that our decision maker is typically more emotional than logical. The logic is the justification we give to support our emotional decision.

Chapter One talks about criticism, and how it literally kills motivation. One example was Thomas Hardy, an author of several books I’ve read. He quit writing due to the criticism he received. What a tragedy!

Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes them strive to justify themselves.

“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain and most fools do.” 

This chapter felt like a much needed slap in the face. From my late teens to early 30s, I was a critic of everything and nearly everyone. The smug superiority I displayed in my early 20s was alarming.

Years later, as I’ve lived and suffered and grown, I’m now a father of three children who are almost all in their teens. Motivating and inspiring our children really matters to me. And the stories Carnegie tells about how much more output employers gain from compliments and words of affirmation astounds me.

It’s easy to justify criticism. From my perspective, criticism points out what to avoid, which seems to motivate unmotivated people. Carnegie says the exact opposite. People who see quality and are encouraged for the effort they put in will rise to the occasion. Sometimes we just need to know it’s possible and borrow some positive energy from someone who believes in us.

It’s worth reading the poem, A Father Forgets, by W Livingston Larned – Link here.

The power of appreciation

The key to influencing people is to give them what they want, which is feeling important, appreciated, and valued.

“I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people the greatest asset that i posses.” 

Charles Schwab

The way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement. There is nothing else that so kills the ambition of a person as criticism from superiors.

“I never criticize anyone. I believe in giving a person incentive to work. So I’m anxious to praise but loathe to find fault. If I like anything I am hearty in my approbation and lavish in my praise.”

Carnegie also states: “I never met anyone who performed better under criticism than under praise and approval.”

But the goal here is sincere appreciation. Flattery doesn’t earn the same result. Kind words of appreciation nourish our souls and change lives. 

  • Flattery is shallow selfish and insincere. 
  • Flattery will do more harm than good. 
  • Flattery is hollow and insincere. 
  • Appreciation is sincere. 
  • Flattery is telling a person exactly what they think about themselves .

“Every man I meet is my superior in some way.” 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is a mindset we should all cultivate. Ralph Waldo Emerson was supremely talented writer, and yet he found a talent or ability in each person that made them his superior. With this approach, we look for and honor the value we find in people. We behave in such a way that demonstrates we know we’re not above everyone else. True humility is very appealing.

Develop Genuine Interest in Other People

Encourage others to talk about themselves and their desires, and show genuine interest in their interests. Closed doors of opportunity often open up as a natural result of demonstrating genuine interest in other people.

There’s nothing any of us likes more than to think or talk about ourselves. It’s a big boring turnoff when someone approaches you and talks about what they want and what they need and then try to convince you to do something for them. Where’s the payoff? But demonstrate a sincere interest in people and they’ll often be genuinely happy to help you reach your goals.

Stay tuned for thoughts on Section 2. As always, I hope you’ll share your thoughts below.

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