I recently finished reading the classic book on communication, How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie. The book is well known for its simple yet effective communication tips to become successful.
What struck me about the book right from the beginning is the simplicity of the communication tips in the book. It was like going back to the very basics of effective communication. And it’s amazing that even though the book was first published in 1937, the concepts make sense even today. Each principle that he talks about is bolstered with examples of real people who successfully used them in their real lives.
It talks about fundamentals of handling people, techniques of winning over people and secrets of successful people skills. These are no longer secrets but seem to be lost in complex concepts of communication which have evolved over time. I think it’s time we went back to learn from the master himself. I have picked up my favourite ones to share with you:
1. Don’t criticise or condemn: It is human nature to find fault with others. We are quick to condemn. This, in no way, helps us get through to people.
2. Give honest appreciation: Honest appreciation is one of the simplest ways to make people feel good about themselves. If you try, you will find something nice to say about good about anyone.
3. Talk to people about what they want to talk about: One of the best ways to strike a conversation is to figure out what interests other people and talk about it. If you want to catch fish, you can’t do that with cheese cake just because you think it tastes good. The hook has to have worms, which will attract fish.
4. Smile: Yeah, we hear this all the time. And this proves that it’s a time tested thing that leads to success with people.
5. Remember people’s names: As the saying goes, the best sound in any language a person’s own name. This is a winner every single time. Carnegie cites examples of statesmen who went out of their way to remember names and it did help them connect with people in the long run.
6. Be a good listener: And this cannot be emphasised on enough! Carnegie spent an entire evening at a party listening to a woman about her travels and she felt that she had the best conversation ever! Even though all he did was listen!
7. Respect others’ opinions: No, this is not a part of the intolerance debate! But we are way too quick in dismissing others’ ideas and no one likes to be told that they are wrong. So, accept and respect what others have to say.
8. Dramatise your ideas: Make what you want to say in an interesting. You may want to give an example, share an anecdote or tell a story. Or couch it in staggering statistics. Ensure that this is of interest to the other person.
9. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders: No one wants to be ordered around. You could use questions to spark creativity and reach common solutions.
Each tip in the book is a gem and it has been hard to shortlist. I also found this fantastic summary of the book that does total justice to the original. If you haven’t read the book, which I strongly recommend that you do – you can have this as a ready reckoner:
Have you read the book? Do you have your own favourites? Do share with other readers in your comments.