How to make friends and influence by Dale Carnegie is one of the most influential books of all time. Much like the title suggests, it is a self-help book that provides a mindset and strategies to make friends and influence people. As an exploration of this text, we are going to do a two-part series on Carnegie's book, with today's post focusing on making friends.
I found out about this book when I was reading an interview on Barbara Cocoran. The founder of the Cocoran Group and current panelist/investor on Shark Tank. In the interview she mentioned that the last book she had read was the aforementioned text. She stated that this book was her guide to interacting with people and with making sales.
I must admit that even in my own life I have incorporated parts of this book into my interactions. In addition, as a person who has gone through leadership training programs, I am shocked at how much of his teachings are incorporated into the modern educational leadership programs.
You can find an exact breakdown of Carnegie's book on Wikipedia, and it goes through the key points of Carnegie's book in a detailed outlined format. You can check it out by clicking the link below.
Wiki - How to Win Friends and Influence People
What I want to focus on are a few key points in the book that I think are critical when trying to make friends, as well as a combination of some of own thoughts in trying to make friends.
1) Be genuine. Nobody likes a fake person. It doesn't matter if you are in high school or an adult. People can easily detect when someone is being disingenuous. One of the most critical aspect in establishing a relationship is being true to yourself. Only then can you begin to form real relationships with other people.
It is important to make a distinction with making friends, and being popular. If you are interested in being popular, then this post will have little relevance for you. Or, if you are a mediocre guy, who is trying to trick "hot girls" to get with you, then this post isn't for you either.
Trying to be popular or get with "hot girls" are superficial desires. Most people want those things because they desire power or influence. That in of itself is disingenuous and will make it damn near impossible for you to form any real relationships with anyone.
The first steps in trying to make friends is being comfortable and true to who you are. Have you ever seen the Netflix show Masters of None?
I love the characters in that show, especially the character Arnold. He is a total dork and weirdo, but he has a lovable nature about him. He complete owns the persona, and people love it. That is the type of genuine I am speaking about. You have to own the personality.
Remember, be yourself and be genuine to who you are.
2) Be sincere and be genuinely interested in other people. People love feeling appreciated, recognized, and valued. In order to create friendships or to establish a relationship you have to make the person across from you feel valued. That means:
- You should feel excited when you see them.
- Smile, be enthusiastic, don't try to play it cool.
- Ask them questions pertaining to their life.
- Be a good listener and ask follow-up questions.
- For new people that you just met - remember their name and the items that they share with you so
that you can follow-up with them the next time you see them.
- For example: Hey John, good to see you again, how is the website that you mentioned the last time we hung out coming along?
Think of the people in your life that you enjoy being around the most. They are probably fun, energetic, and optimistic people. In addition, they are probably individuals that show that they care about other people. They give you their undivided attention and make you feel like a star.
Carnegie points out that people love talking about what they know. And, what people know best is themselves. So provide them the opportunity to tell their life story and listen. But, do this with genuine interest. If you are not interested in the person or their life story then don't invest in that relationship. Move on to the people who you do interest you.
Remember, be sincere, enthusiastic, and genuinely interested in the other person's life story.
3) Don't be judgemental and don't criticize people. For the young readers out there, do you ever feel it is difficult to talk to your parents? For the readers who are involved in a relationship or are married, do you ever feel like you can't tell your partner everything?
What holds us back from communicating our most inner most thoughts with the people that we are most connected with?
I know that when I was a teen and even into my early 20's it was hard to talk to my mother about a lot of things. Things such as relationships, friends, job prospects, pretty much anything that mattered.
Because she always had a negative comment to make or she provided unsolicited advice. It came to a point where there just wasn't a whole lot to say and then eventually a full blown argument ensued. I remember I had just completed my first year of teaching and she was asking me on how I thought the year went. I was 23 at the time, so relatively young, and before I could even finish there came a stream of unsolicited comments.
You should find a new job.
Well jobs don't just fall off of trees mom.
Teaching just doesn't pay well.
It pays better than my last job did.
I hate that you work in such a dangerous area.
Nothing has happened to me yet, and the people in the area know me, trust me its fine.
You should go into finance, so-and-so's son works for Citi Group and makes $500K a year.
Good for him, I think I'm in a good place right now, so...
And then argument ensues.
How did it end?
By me yelling at my elderly mother, telling her sometimes I just need her to listen and to not speak. Sometimes I just need her to be a mother, and not a consultant, not a head hunter, just a rock-steady parent.
Passing judgement on people or criticizing people means that you think you know better than them. For a long time after I read this portion in Carnegie's book about not criticizing, complaining, or condemning, I flat out did not understand it. As a teacher back then, it was my job to provide constant feedback. And, sometimes it is hard to turn off your professional life when you are living your personal life.
I always felt that when you saw something wrong with a situation or a person you should let them know, so they could better themselves.
But experience has taught me that this is the wrong way to go about things. For starters, most people are aware of their deficiencies. Albeit, a physical one like a pimple or a personality trait such as talking too much. Most people are aware of their short comings. You pointing it out or offering unsolicited solutions only make them feel more insecure about it. When people feel insecure around certain people or situations, they tend to avoid them.
When it comes to forming friendships or relationships, we can't pass judgement or criticize or peers or significant other. It is important to understand that:
- Nobody is perfect
- You form connections with people to be with the person they are, not to change them.
So remember, don't judge or criticize others.
We'll follow up next week with the second portion of Carnegie's book. A lot of this post here was a hybrid of my own thoughts along with Carnegie's text. You can check out the book on the Kindle app or through Audible, if you don't have the opportunity to read, by clicking on either the banner above or below.
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