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Influence

How to Make Friends and Influence People

When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion. 

–– Dale Carnegie



When I’m working with a group of leaders and someone asks for book recommendations, one of my first choices will be the classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. Most people recognize this book and author.
 
However, when I ask when Carnegie wrote this landmark book, guesses vary widely, mostly settling in the 1960s. People are shocked to learn that the first edition actually was published in 1936!
 
Carnegie, who became a famous writer, trainer, and lecturer, was far ahead of his time in unearthing the principles of influence. What Carnegie wrote instinctively more than eight decades ago has since been scientifically verified by researchers, including Dr. Robert Cialdini in his book Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion.
 
Let me share the core ideas of Carnegie's great book, with the hope that you’ll pick it up and learn more. In his well-organized volume, Carnegie uses many stories from real people in history to illustrate his points, which makes it an interesting read. 
 
Carnegie’s central idea is that we can influence others with the simple act of showing respect and appreciation. 
 
Carnegie quotes John Dewey, who said that “the deepest desire in human nature is ‘the desire to be important.’” The book talks a lot about how people want to be appreciated – and how we can meet that need. It’s a universal longing for humans. Everyone wants to feel appreciated, encouraged, heard, and understood.
 
Here’s a bit more detail on three of his core principles:
 
1. Show appreciation
Carnegie credits appreciation as “one of the most neglected virtues of our daily existence.” Since we tend to focus on ourselves, we often forget to encourage and compliment our coworkers, children, spouses, or others we might meet on our daily journeys. 
 
He tells the story of a boy named Stevie Morris who lived in Detroit. One day, a teacher asked him to help her find a mouse that had been lost in the classroom. The teacher appreciated Stevie’s strong sense of hearing because the boy was blind.
 
It was the first time in this young man’s life that someone had shown appreciation for a talent he had. He now says “this act of appreciation was the beginning of a new life.” The boy had kept developing his keen sense of hearing and went on to become one of the world’s most famous singers – Stevie Wonder.
 
Carnegie urges us not to use false flattery, but to observe the talents and attributes of others and bring them to the light with an honest compliment. As a constant traveler, I can’t tell you how many upgrades in flights, hotels, and other services I’ve had by simply observing and giving honest compliments to people who suffer negative feedback all day long. 
 
2. Show interest in other people
It’s human nature for us to want to talk about ourselves. Some people think that the secret to winning friends is to make themselves interesting to others. But that’s not Carnegie’s path to making friends. 
 
“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,” Carnegie writes. You gain trust and respect from people when you show interest in them! 
 
President Theodore Roosevelt was known for his popularity among the people, especially those who served him. His valet wrote an entire book about how Roosevelt would always remember little things about the people around him. Roosevelt knew the names of the entire White House staff, including the kitchen staff.
 
3. Begin in a friendly way
If you want to win someone over to your way of thinking, it’s important to start things off in a friendly manner. If you jump straight to business or start criticizing or accusing, it puts the other person on the defensive. If you’re perceptive, you can feel a wall go up between you.  
 
Carnegie tells a story about a man who wanted to reduce his rent. Mr. Straub wanted to stay in his apartment, but couldn’t afford it. He’d heard that the landlord was mean and unwilling to budge on price. 
 
The landlord came to meet with him after Mr. Straub sent him a letter, telling him he couldn’t afford another year of rent. Straub started off by telling the landlord how much he loved the apartment and how well everything was run. The landlord was shocked because he’d never had such high praise from a tenant before! Without Mr. Straub saying anything, the landlord offered to reduce the price of rent. 
 
As Abraham Lincoln said, “A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.” 
 
Conclusion
Overall, Carnegie’s real message is to treat others with interest, kindness, and respect. 
 
This simple credo will take you a long way. It’s not a gimmick or a fast fix, but rather a way of life.

Best wishes for the holidays,
  

John
 

P.S. –– To talk with me, please use my contact page.

The Secret to Getting What You Ask For 

If you wish to know the mind of a man, listen to his words.
 

—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

There are times in our lives when we have to ask for something major— a “high-stakes” ask.
 
The request could be for a job, a donation, or even a life partner. In those moments we might become overwhelmed with anxiety, fear of rejection, and even diminished self-worth.
 
It’s Not About You
Why? Because we’ve made it all about us, instead of about the person we’re asking. 
 
If we ask the right questions and listen fully to the answers, it becomes a real, non-threatening conversation.
 
The secret to getting what you ask for is really listening to the person you’re asking. Everything you need to know is right in front of you.
 
My friend and associate Kent Stroman works tirelessly with nonprofit boards, staff, and volunteers. His Institute for Conversational Fundraising equips fundraising leaders to ask for larger, often multi-million-dollar gifts successfully. But his sage advice teaches all of us how to approach asking in every aspect of business and life.
 
Marriage Proposal
Kent told me the story of a very major “ask” he experienced: a young man who wanted marry Kent’s youngest daughter asked for Kent’s blessing. The young man said, “I can’t see myself going through life without being married to your daughter.”
 
The ask was successful: Jonathan and Monica married, established their own home, and are expecting their third child in December. Major gifts, indeed. ;-)
 
Stroman says the key to asking for something major is to approach it as you would any important conversation by asking the right questions and then listening.
 
When I say “listening,” you’re probably thinking, “listening, yeah, I do that.” But not many of us truly listen as effectively as we might.
 
In his book, Asking About Asking, Mastering the Art of Conversational Fundraising Stroman says listening is the most important part of asking.
 
“If you’re going to listen strategically, you have to ask strategic questions. After preparing and asking purposeful questions, it’s time to be quiet and listen. Indeed, if we are not deliberate about listening, there is really no purpose to be served by asking,” Stroman writes. 

Your Eyes, Ears, Mind, and Heart
Kent and I share the same approach on listening: to be effective, you should listen with your ears, your eyes, your mind, and your heart.
 
Stroman warns to beware of the temptation to manipulate a conversation into coming back around to your interests.
 
Kent offers these tips to aid in asking strategically and listening thoughtfully:
 

  • You need to have a sincere interest in the person. If you aren’t sincere, it shows.

  • Ask open-ended questions to encourage her to talk.

  • That person will guide you in the conversation.

  • Most people want to express themselves and have a lot to say.

  • You should be about “their needs, their vision, their timing, and their preferences.”


Finally, Kent offers this guidance, “If you want insight into someone’s head, ask data questions (facts); but if you want a glimpse into their soul, ask heart questions (feelings).”
 
How Well Do You Listen?
So, how well do you listen, especially when you’re asking for something important?
 
In his book, Kent offers a five-point scale you can use to assess how effective you are as a listener:
 

  1. I do not listen to the speaker; I’m absorbed in my own thoughts.

  2. I contribute to the discussion but give no indication of having heard others’ comments.  

  3. I send nonverbal messages, such as eye contact or a head nod, to show that I heard what was being said.  

  4. I accurately refer to the other speaker’s comments in making my own statements.

  5. I show by my comments that I understand the meaning and feelings behind others’ comments.  


If you want a truly valid assessment of yourself as a listener, ask a trusted colleague or someone at home to rate you on this scale.
 
Whether it feels like it or not, this kind of feedback is, in itself, a major gift.
 
When you find yourself looking in someone’s eyes while they talk this week, think about whether you’re hearing, or really listening.
 
As always, if you want to talk with me, visit my contact page. I’m all ears. 

John
 
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