Tag Archive for: How to Win Friends and Influence People

Persuasive Coaching: Ask the Right Questions

A good coach is a lot like a good salesperson. A good salesperson never makes you feel pressured or sold. Using a combination of questions and a conversational tone a good salesperson helps the prospective customer uncover their needs. Next, the salesperson engages the prospective customer so he or she sees the right service or product to meet their needs.

In a similar way, a good coach will have a conversation where lots of questions are asked so the person being coached – the coachee –  feels like they came up with the solution to their challenges.

People who self-generate their own ideas will always be more committed to them than ideas that come from being told what to do. Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, clearly understood this when he encouraged readers to, “Let the other person feel the idea is theirs.”

Why is this approach so effect? Because of Robert Cialdini’s principle of consistency. The psychological principle tells us people feel internal psychological pressure as well as external social pressure to be consistent in what they say and do.

As little pleasure seekers and pain avoiders humans work hard to make sure their words and deeds line up. When we do what we say we’ll do we feel better about ourselves. We also look better to others when we consistently keep our word. Both are strong motivators of behavior.

Being more committed to whatever solution the person being coached comes up with isn’t the only benefit of asking good questions. Asking questions and engaging in dialog also helps shape the coachee’s thinking. The more they learn to critically think and solve their own problems the more self-sufficient they become. That independence usually means they can make more decisions and do so faster.

If you’ve raised kids you know how important it is to help them develop their thinking because mom and dad won’t always be around to answer questions. The same can be said of a coach.

I’ll close with a quote from Tom Hopkins, author of How to Master the Art of Selling. Tom tells audiences, “When you say it they doubt it but when they say it they believe it.” Ask the right questions and the person you’re coaching will believe in the answers they come up with, be more committed to their ideas, and will have learned how to solve their own problems.

No Tips, Tricks or Techniques to Ethical Influence

Sorry, no tips, tricks or techniques here but let’s talk about what it takes to become a master persuader. Saying there are tips, tricks and techniques to influence people degrades people, devalues the influence process and shortchanges real learning.

When people refer to “tips” to influence people that devalues the influence process. You get tips at a racetrack and while that may up your odds of picking the winner in the next race it doesn’t necessarily help you become better at picking the winners time and time again. Don’t you want to become consistently good at influencing others?

Another problem with tips is they often come with little or no cost because they provide little value. Many times tips are nothing more than a restatement of what we already know to be true. Cut your carbs, don’t smoke and exercise if you want to be healthy. Wow, thanks for telling me something I didn’t already know.

Talking about “tricks” to influence people makes it sound like a magician using his knowledge of people’s senses to fool them with slight of hand. There’s no such thing as magic so what’s really occurring is deception.

When it comes to influence you don’t need to deceive people because there are scientifically proven ways to use the understanding of human psychology to make your message more effective and ultimately move people to action ethically.

When I hear people talk about using tricks it makes it sound like you’re taking advantage of others and nobody wants to feel like they were taken advantage of. How would you feel if you discovered someone tricked you into something like a sale?

What’s wrong with learning techniques? Techniques are fine until you find yourself in a situation where your technique doesn’t apply. However, if you understood the why behind the technique – why the technique usually works – you’re in a better position to figure out something else that might help in the moment.

Here’s an example of a technique. You want to lose weight quickly so you fast for two days and only drink water. That might be fine if you’re a wrestler looking to make weight but it won’t cut it if you’re looking for long-term, healthy weight loss.

If tips, tricks and techniques won’t cut it then what does it take to become a master of influence? Like anything in life it takes time, effort and practice. If you wanted to get significantly better at golf you might start by attending a golf school for a few days or a week. But how much would you improve if you didn’t continue to practice?

Attending a workshop to immerse yourself in the language of influence for a few days is a great start because you’ll learn the why behind human behavior. But that’s only a start. You need to reinforce your learning by reading books like Influence Science and Practice, Pre-suasion, Predictably Irrational, and How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Becoming a student of influence is an excellent start to becoming a master of influence but your most important step is the next one – be strategic as you look for opportunities to put your new knowledge to use. Only when you try something then assess your results, looking for ways to improve, will you grow. That means assessing what went well and what could be improved.

Nothing worthwhile comes easy in life and that’s true when it comes to being a master at persuasion. Don’t succumb to tips, tricks and techniques! Learn how to ethically influence people because it will lead to more professional success and personal happiness.

My Name is Brian and You Are?

In his classic book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie wrote, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

There is no word that catches our attention more than our name. That’s why you can be in a noisy, crowded area, straining to listen to someone talk but all of a sudden if you hear your name you can easily tune into wherever it came from.

I share those insights because recently I had an experience because of my friend Loring Mellien, a.k.a. “Pud.” You might recall reading about Pud in a post about a month ago because of the joy he gets in helping others.

Something I’ve learned from observing Pud in the real world is the value of using people’s names. No matter where we are – a bar, restaurant, poolside talking to a DJ, on an Uber ride, Pud will always introduce himself and ask the other person’s name. Conversation instantly flows.

In my new role as Director of Learning at State Auto Insurance, I routinely walk into the building around 6:45 each morning. As I enter I see the same security guard behind a desk every day. He asks to see my ID badge, I ask how he’s doing, he asks how I am then I’m on my way to my office. Very generic stuff.

As I walked in not too long ago I wondered why I’d never bothered to ask his name since we see each other every day and there’s usually no one else around. I started to realize the more time passed the more awkward it would be to ask his name. After all, if a year went by it would be strange to finally ask, “What’s your name?” So I decided not to wait any longer. Taking a prompt from Pud I simply said, “I come in here every day and we say hi and it occurs to me I don’t know your name.” I stretched out my hand and said, “My name is Brian and you are?” He stood up with a smile on his face and said, “I’m Tom,” as he shook my hand. He looked genuinely happy and it made me wonder how many other people have bothered to ask him his name.

Later that day when he was in a different part of the building I waved from a distance and he smiled as he waved back. I’m sure things will be different every morning as I walk in now and that sometimes conversation will ensue instead of a simple hello.

Sharing this reminds me of a time when I was traveling many years ago. I went to Friday’s for dinner while in Nashville for business, sat at the bar with a copy of USA Today when all of a sudden the bartender said, “Hi, I’m Ryan,” sticking his hand out. He continued, “What’s your name?” I told him my name and noticed the whole evening felt different as he said, “How’s your food, Brian?” “Brian, need another beer?” “Thanks for coming in, Brian.” All of these phrases made me feel like a friend was waiting on me. It changed the experience for the good and his tip was better because of it.

Pretty simple stuff but like many simple things in life, we can either overlook them or get to a point where it seems weird or awkward to act on what we know we should do. Even though I teach this stuff it’s not always natural for me to be that outgoing. It takes effort whereas for some people it would take restraint not to be that outgoing. But the more I do it the easier it gets. A simple act like this will make your day better and make other people’s day better too. Not only that, you’ll meet some interesting people along the way and make some friends and that could come in handy down the road if you need a favor because it taps into the principle of liking.

So I challenge you this week – introduce yourself to strangers and ask their name. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Doubt and Belief

“When you say it, they doubt it. When they say it, they believe it.”
Tom Hopkins, author and sales trainer

I recall that quote from How to Master the Art of Selling and Tom’s Sales Boot Camp. Telling someone what you think is right for them is never as effective as helping them see it and verbalize it for themselves. Dale Carnegie understood this truth as well when he encouraged readers to, “Let the other person think the idea is theirs.”

The psychology behind this truth has to do with the principle of consistency. This principle of influence highlights the reality that people feel internal psychological pressure, as well as external social pressure, to be consistent in what they say and do. When our words and deeds align we feel better about ourselves than we do when they don’t align.

For example, have you ever given your word to someone that you’d be somewhere or do something for him or her but had to back out? Sure you have. We all have because sometimes unforeseen things come up.

The real question is this – how did you feel when you had to tell them you couldn’t do what you promised? When I ask audiences that question the words they use to describe how they felt are heavy, emotional and negative. Words like guilty, horrible, terrible, and bad are frequently used.

Nobody wants to feel guilty, horrible, terrible, or bad so many times we find ourselves following through on our word…even when we didn’t want to do what was promised!

When someone voices an opinion, thought or idea they own it much more than if they’re told the same opinion, thought or idea. After all, once you’ve said it publicly or put it in writing you don’t want to go back on your word. That’s why people will look much harder for reasons that support or defend their position.

When it comes to persuading people you will be far more successful if you get them to say it – out loud or in their head – than if you just tell them. Steve Jobs was a master at this. When he introduced the iPod for the first time he slipped it out of his pocket and say, “A thousand songs in your pocket.” People got that and it was far more effective than saying, “This baby holds five gigabytes of information.” But Jobs went on to seal the deal when he said, “Isn’t that amazing?”

Important – Note that Jobs didn’t tell them (“This is amazing!”) it was amazing he asked them by using a question (“Isn’t that amazing?”). People feel compelled to answer questions, even if only in their head. When we tell them things they passively receive the information. There’s a BIG difference; one that master persuaders get. After Jobs asked that question and people answer affirmatively in their heads as they nodded they were convincing themselves they wanted one!

The way to get someone to believe is to have them say it out loud or to themselves. Most of the time this occurs through good questioning techniques.

In my line of work I deal with insurance agents. They’re experts compared to the buying public when it comes to insurance. They can share that expertise but sometimes it will come across as someone trying to sell a consumer more insurance than they need. But, if they ask the right questions they can get the consumer to see their need.

Here’s an example. In 2011 the town of Joplin, Missouri, was devastated by a tornado. Unfortunately for about two-thirds of the people affected, their homes were underinsured. Imagine having just lost your home and all your possessions then hearing the news that the insurance settlement will not allow you to rebuild it as it was because you didn’t carry enough insurance!

The challenge for an insurance agent is this – if they recommend more insurance John Q. Public probably thinks he needs, the agent is just trying to sell them more insurance to earn more commission dollars. The smart agent will ask questions so the homeowner sees their need.

Agent – Tom, I want to ask you a question. Is it your expectation that the insurance company will rebuild your home exactly as it is today if it were completely destroyed?

Tom – Of course, that’s why we carry insurance.

Agent – That’s what I expected, Tom. You’re like every other person we insure but I just wanted to make 100% sure that was your intention.

Now, if the agent realizes the home is currently underinsured he can approach the situation as follows.

Agent – Tom, last time we met I asked if it was your expectation that your insurance would fully rebuild your home after a disaster and you said yes. I have some bad news. With your current policy that won’t happen. I’ve estimated the cost with three different insurance companies and all of them come in around $250,000. Right now your policy covers your home for $200,000. So the big question is this – If your home is destroyed can you come up with the $50,000 needed to finish the rebuilding process?

Tom – No and that’s not what I’m going to do.

Agent – You’re like every other person I’ve ever dealt with so I ran up quotes with those three companies at $250,000.

Does the agent want to sell more insurance? Yes, but it’s to fully protect the customer. By asking the right questions Tom saw his need and by his own words could embrace the change. If an agent goes about it wrong he or she is seen as someone just looking to make more commission and that could be disastrous for someone who ends up underinsured.

Here’s your take away – Stop telling and start asking.

Asking questions engages the mind, keeps people focused on the conversation and can be used to help them see what you’re asking or proposing is in their best self-interest. As our Chief Sales Officer Clyde Fitch likes to say, “Self-interest may not be the only horse in the race but it’s the one to bet on.”

Persuading Einstein and Members of AARP

I just finished Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Issacson. Excellent book! Issacson also wrote another very interesting biography I read a few years ago, Steve Jobs. His book on Einstein was so well written and portrayed Einstein in such a way that I was sad at the end to read about his death because I felt like I was just getting to know him.

We all have notions of Einstein from school, quotes we’ve read, movies we’ve seen and various other sources. Some of what we learned was true and much was fairy tale or at least exaggeration. What fascinated me about Einstein was how much of a rebel he was in his youth and how much he was willing to change as he got older when the facts warranted change.

As we get older, change gets harder. In some sense we’ve honed what works for us and those patterns or habits – which include speech and thought – are no exception. We think what we think and do what we do because we believe it’s the right way or the best way given the situation. Dale Carnegie understood this and that’s why one of his tips from How to Win Friends and Influence People encourages us to “show respect for the other person’s opinion and never say, ‘You’re wrong.’” Never forget, right or wrong, people have reasons for what they do.

Beyond being stereotyped as “set in their ways” is there any proof that older people are more difficult to persuade? Actually there is. A study mentioned in Robert Cialdini’s Influence Science and Practice noted, “in a follow-up study employing subjects from ages 18 to 80, we found that preference for consistency increased with the years and that, once beyond the age of 50, our subjects displayed the strongest inclination of all to remain consistent with their earlier commitments (Brown, Asher, & Cialdini, 2005).”

So, as we age it’s natural to cling tightly to closely held beliefs, attitudes, values, and ways of doing things. As most of you reading this know, it can be darn hard to change someone’s mind, especially as they grow older.

So, what’s this have to do with our friend Albert Einstein? On one hand he seemed to cling stubbornly to his view of the universe and dismissed some newer science including quantum mechanics. Without going into detail on either issue, suffice it to say that despite lots of data on quantum mechanics, there were a few important questions Einstein could not reconcile in his head. Had someone been able to help him do that he might have changed his mind and abandoned his search for a unified theory.

Being an analytic personality, Einstein would naturally cling to his beliefs because he so thoroughly thought them through. You’d need data to convince him AND you’d need to do so at the points that were of most concern to him. No scientist could convince him that we can never truly tell a particle’s exact position and momentum (a tenant of quantum mechanics). Scientists believe we can only guess at those two things, but Einstein could not reconcile that in his mind, so he held to his earlier beliefs about the universe.

On the flip side there was something very dear to Einstein’s heart that he eventually did change his mind about. He was an ardent pacifist in his younger days and believed if people would refuse military service there would never be a need for military action by nations.His view on this was shaped by the horror of World War I and the unparalleled destruction it brought on the world at that time. Through the early 1930s he held onto this view. However, with the rise of Hitler and the Nazis in Germany he began to re-examine that view. While he never embraced war, he came to believe people should enlist to defend freedom. He was also instrumental in getting President Roosevelt to start exploring nuclear technology and was against unilateral disarmament towards the end of his life because of the imbalance of power it would cause.

Why did he change? He was confronted with facts and the reality was the stakes were too high to be wrong. As you attempt to persuade people you’d do well to consider where they are in their life cycle. Teenagers and younger people have not developed the same groove older people have. It’s easier for them to experiment and quite often there is much less at stake for them in terms of loss should they make a mistake.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

Listen to Dale Carnegie Tips at CinchCast

Last year I began recording influence and persuasion tips on a site called CinchCast.com. I did this because I realize people have different learning styles.

Now it’s part of my routine each morning to record an influence tip before I start my day. Towards the end of the last year I began sharing Dale Carnegie’s advice on How to Win Friends and Influence People in audio format. For each piece of Carnegie advice I recorded a three to five minute audio clip at CinchCast.com. To listen to the introduction to the series click here.

Below you’ll see the different sections of How to Win Friends and Influence People, the corresponding advice Carnegie shares with readers and links to my audio clips. I encourage you to click on the audio links so you can hear an expanded version of each tip.

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
1 Don’t criticize, condemn or complain. Audio
2 Give honest, sincere appreciation. Audio
3 Arouse in the other person an eager want. Audio

Six Ways to Make People Like You
4 Become genuinely interested in other people. Audio

5 Smile. Audio
6 Remember their name. Audio
7 Be a good listener & encourage others to talk about themselves. Audio
8 Talk in terms of the other person’s interests. Audio
9 Make the other person feel important. Audio

How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking
10 Avoid arguments. Audio
11 Show respect for other’s opinions and never say, “You’re wrong.” Audio
12 If you are wrong, admit it quickly & emphatically. Audio
13 Begin in a friendly way. Audio
14 Get the other person to say “yes” immediately. Audio
15 Let the other person do a great deal of the talking. Audio
16 Let the other person feel the idea is theirs. Audio
17 Try to see things from the other’s point of view. Audio
18 Be sympathetic to other’s ideas and desires. Audio
19 Appeal to the nobler motives. Audio
20 Dramatize your ideas. Audio
21 Throw down a challenge. Audio

Be a Leader: How to Encourage People to Change without Giving Offense
22 Begin with praise and honest appreciation. Audio
23 Call attention to mistakes indirectly. Audio
24 Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing. Audio
25 Ask questions instead of giving direct orders. Audio
26 Let the other person save face. Audio
27 Praise the slightest, and every improvement. Audio
28 Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to. Audio
29 Use encouragement and make the fault seem easy to correct. Audio
30 Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest. Audio

I hope you find this a useful way to learn How to Win Friends and Influence People. Last week I finished a series on building strong relationships. To see those tips just click on the relationship album at the top of the CinchCast page. As I shared earlier, I record a tip each day so look for updates daily on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

The Apology Heard Around the World

You’ve probably heard the familiar saying, “Timing is everything.” When I hear that I joke with people and tell them, “That’s true unless you’re in real estate. Then it’s location, location, location.” As timing would have it, perhaps the most famous person alive gave the apology heard around the world last week. After months of speculation Tiger Woods finally addressed the public concerning his issues with infidelity. What’s this have to do with timing? It just so happens to coincide with the next bit of Dale Carnegie advice I was going to share – If you’re wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.

I wrote about the Tiger Woods’ situation in December, approaching it from the context of character. I tried to drive home that we can’t do anything about Tiger and all our water cooler talk is worthless. It turns out that all the speculation about Elin and his car accident were wrong if you believe Tiger’s apology. I’m going to take him at face value because part of the rehab process is coming clean with the truth and making amends. Assuming his account of that night is the truth then the media outlets and many people wasted a lot of time on that issue. The point of my post was simply this; we can use Tiger’s situation to reflect on ourselves and try to become better people.

The point of this week’s post is to get all of us to reflect on ourselves when we make a mistake. Lots of people think Tiger waited too long to apologize and that his words were not his own but those of a PR firm. That may be true or it may not. I don’t have a PR firm representing me and I bet you don’t either, so we don’t have to worry about that getting in the way of our credibility when we choose to apologize.

When we do make a mistake the quicker we own up to it the less time there is for speculation by others. Once people start down that path they begin to convince themselves they’re right. In Tiger’s case, no matter what he or Elin says about Thanksgiving night, many people are so firmly entrenched in what they believe happened that they might never believe anything different.
So how does this apply to you and I and what we can learn from all this? If we can prevent that speculation from taking root when we make mistakes then wouldn’t it be the smart thing to do? Here are a few examples of people who should have done just that. Not too long ago Alex Rodriguez came clean about steroids. The problem was, A-Rod lied to Katie Couric about it on national television when asked a few years earlier. The late admission was seen as a way to manage his career rather than a genuine apology for something he knew was wrong. Had he been truthful with her I think he would have been revered because he would have been the first baseball player to come forth without having the pressure of an investigation or congressional hearings.

Mark McGwire is in the same boat. Nobody is buying his apology because he lied to Congress about his steroid use. Had he admitted the truth at that time I think public opinion would be much better right now. As it is, most people see his apology as just the necessary step to get back into the game of baseball and possibly the hall of fame one day.

The American public is forgiving when people come clean about mistakes and back it up by living a changed life. I think on an individual level people are very much the same. When I’ve made mistakes and took steps to own up to them I’ve found people willing to extend grace to me. I think of the time when I was a jerk on the road driving in to work one morning. For quite some time I refused to let someone over as we approached the exit. I could have tapped the brakes, been a nice guy and let the driver over but I chose not to and eventually the driver got behind me. It turned out the person I was a jerk to happened to be a coworker who saw me pull into the parking lot. I knew he knew it was me on the highway so I made the choice to apologize. I got a very nice email from him saying we all make mistakes but he knew I was the kind of person who would own up to it. I think we’re better friends today than we were before the incident.

So here’s the bottom line. Don’t waste your time speculating on all the aspects of Tiger’s apology, his sincerity, when he’ll play again, if he and Elin will stay together, etc., because none of that will make you a better individual. Learn from his situation and use it to grow as a person. Next time you make a mistake own up to it quickly. Like anything, if you start with the small stuff it will make it easier when the bigger stuff comes around because you’ll have built character. Make that choice and you’ll become a person of authority and influence because you’ll have credibility.

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

Dale Carnegie and Sun Tzu on Avoiding Arguments

We’ve made some really good headway looking at tips from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. In case you’re a newer reader, below you’ll see what we’ve covered so far. Click on any tip and you’ll be taken to the Influence PEOPLE article for that piece of timeless advice from Dale Carnegie.

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
Give honest, sincere appreciation.
Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Six Ways to Make People Like You
Become genuinely interested in other people.
Remember their name.
Be a good listener & encourage others to talk about themselves.
Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
Make the other person feel important.

Now we move into the section of the book that teaches “How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking” and the advice we start with is probably Carnegie’s best advice – avoid arguments. Sounds easy enough but sometimes it seems unavoidable.
Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War, a book about conflict, sometime around 500 BC. He had this to say about fighting, “It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.” In a nutshell Sun Tzu is saying only pick the conflicts you know you can win or else avoid the conflict altogether. Arguing is a type of conflict and quite often it can be avoided IF you’re honest with yourself and your assessment of another. This is similar to the general knowing his army as well as the enemy’s. For us this simply means, if you know what sets you off you can avoid people or situations that are likely to make that happen. Let’s start with ourselves. Unfortunately, knowing yourself isn’t so easy. That’s why Ben Franklin said, “There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” We have blind spots and sometimes we don’t want to face the truth. But, if we’re willing to make the hard self-assessment we’ll come to learn our strengths and weaknesses.By the same token, when you know another person you can seek to avoid their triggers. Let’s consider the other person for a moment. It could be your spouse, boss or a friend but usually we have conflict with those who are closest to us. That’s just a sad fact of life. The good news is this; you probably know them well enough to know how to avoid the triggers that usually lead to conflict. For example, here’s one for the guys to avoid: You ask your wife to buy a case of Miller Light for$14.95, but instead she buys a jar of cold cream for $7.95. DON’T tell her the beer would make her look better at night than the cold cream! Ladies, you want to avoid telling Mr. Right he’s like a bank account – without money he doesn’t generate much interest.Both of those funny little jokes are sure to start an argument. Will you always avoid arguments? No. But, taking account of yourself and another can go a very long way to make the avoidance a reality. You could take the really high road and follow the advice Jesus gave his disciples, “Love your enemies.” Ouch, now that’s hard! Loving your enemies doesn’t mean feeling towards them the way you might with your parents, spouse or kids. No, love is a verb, a “doing” word. It’s placing the welfare of the other person above your own no matter the cost because it’s the right thing to do. Love your enemies and you won’t have enemies for long and you’ll have very few arguments.And think about this; who wins an argument? There’s always a jokester who says, “Me!” but in reality nobody wins. Oh sure, you may be “right” but is it worth it when being “right” damages or kills the relationship? Far too many people never speak to loved ones or friends because of arguments over things that seemed important but really weren’t. So resolve to yourself to do whatever is in your power to avoid arguing. That may mean having to let someone feel like they’re right. Big deal, especially if you know in your heart that you are right. Never lose sight of the goal, to win a friend or influence someone. ** FREE GIVE AWAY ** It would mean a lot to me if you’d help increase Influence PEOPLE readership by forwarding this blog to some friends or co-workers. Do so and you could win a copy of Dr. Cialdini’s book Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive. If you’re currently receiving email notification then you’re already registered to win! If you’ve not signed up for automatic notification then send me an email (BFA654@gmail.com) after you’ve shared the blog with someone and I’ll register you for the drawing. The lucky winner will be announced on next week’s posting. Thanks in advance, I appreciate your help! Brian
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

Make the Other Person Feel Important

We’ve been making our way through Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People as a way for you to become a more influential and persuasive person. The week we come to his last tip in the section of the book titled “Six Ways to Make People Like You.” The advice we’ll explore is, “Make the other person feel important.”

Are you important? I hope you said “Yes” to yourself! I’m important and you’re important. There’s never been another person quite like me or quite like you. We’re all unique individuals. Even identical twins, the most genetically close people in the world, are unique. Our importance may not be something people read about like the President of the United States, a famous actor or actress, an author or a well-known athlete but nonetheless we are important. Just ask your spouse, kids, parents, friends or coworkers.

Remember the classic Christmas movie It’s a Wonderful Life starring Jimmy Stewart? Stewart plays George Bailey, a man who has a crisis of faith when $8,000 is misplaced and he fears his business will close. He’s so distraught he contemplates suicide because he thinks it would have been better had he not been born. Thanks to the angel Clarence he realizes that was foolish thinking because small town George had a huge impact on the lives of people in his community.

I share this not to build you up or inflate my ego but because it leads to this – you and I are important and so is every other person you come in contact with…whether or not they realize it. That’s right; many people live their lives like George Bailey did for a few hours, feeling unimportant. But, if you and I believe they are important and treat them as such, great things can happen!

Let me share one quick story. I know a single lady in her 60s who is an important person. She’s divorced, has two grown kids and a couple of grandkids. She has a regular job and struggles to make ends meet like most people these days. She likes working in her yard and around her home and she’s always willing to help others. She’s a nice person, a nice neighbor to those who live near her. She’s not done anything that will make her famous but she’s important nonetheless. Who is this person? My mom, Ann Strausburg. If it were not for her I would not be here and you wouldn’t be reading this. My wife Jane might be married to someone else and my wonderful daughter Abigail would not have come into existence. From my limited perspective my mom is very important and I’m sure from God’s view, because He knows her full impact, He’d say she’s incredibly important!

I hope everyone treats my mom with the kind of respect she deserves. I bet you hope the same for your mom, dad, grandparents, kids or anyone else who is significant to you. If we hope that then we should do that. Every day as we meet people if we make them feel import they’ll sense that. Of course they’ll like us for it too.

Don’t you enjoy it when people treat you like you’re important? It can be humbling at times but I know I enjoy it and I bet you do too. If we enjoy it then why not spread the joy and allow others to feel the same way? Here are a few simple things anyone can do to convey a sense of importance to another person:

  • Show respect – Respect comes easily through good manners with phrases like, “Yes please,” “No thank you,” “Excuse me” and “Please forgive me.” These are simple and none assumes anything from the other person.
  • Use their name – As I shared in the article A Rose by Any Other Name, the sweetest sound to any person is the sound of their own name. People feel important when identified by name because it humanizes them.
  • Golden Rule – Treat people the way you’d like to be treated or the way you’d like someone to treat a loved one. This kind of behavior tends to come back to you. Earl Hickey calls it karma.
  • Fine Reputation – We will explore Carnegie’s advice to give the other person a fine reputation to live up to later in this series. For now know this; conveying belief in another person can help them achieve more than they thought possible and make them feel more important than ever before. Give that gift.

We make requests of people every single day because we need other people. Recognizing that fact, this blog is intended to help you learn to hear “Yes!” The more friends you make, the easier it is to influence people and hear “Yes!” But it’s not just about getting what you want. It’s about building relationships and enjoying our lives more because of those relationships. Make another person feel important today and that’s one step in the right direction them and for you.

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

Be a Good Listener and Encourage Others to Talk about Themselves

What subject do you know more about than anyone else in the entire world? Yourself, of course. No one else knows everything you’ve been through, what you think or how you feel at any given moment. They don’t know all your likes and dislikes. They don’t know about your past, your present or your future hopes and dreams. Nor do they know about all the experiences you’ve had, the things you’ve overcome during your lifetime. Those are some of the things that uniquely make you you and those same things – and more – make everyone you meet unique and interesting too.

So, if you ever find yourself unsure about what to say when you meet someone new, simply focus on them. In Dale Carnegie’s words, “be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves.” When they share things they love or enjoy they’ll feel good as they talk and they’ll associate those good feelings with you. That’s a winning formula for making friends and influencing people.

You might be reading this and be thinking to yourself, “But I’m not good with small talk.” No worries because I have several questions to help get you started. These questions will be easy for anyone to answer, should not be sensitive and will help the conversation flow naturally. The key after asking questions is to pay attention for things you have in common, or areas of interest, so you can make a connection with the person. The more they see themselves in you the more they will like you.

So, in no particular order here are several questions you can use as conversation starters to encourage others to talk about themselves.

Where do you live? Even if someone lives in the same city as you there are suburbs and neighborhoods that differentiate parts of town. Asking about this can help you connect because you might currently live in the same area or have friends or family that do.

Tell me about your family? Notice I didn’t ask, “Are you married?” or “Do you have any kids?” Both of those questions can be sensitive for people who want to be married or would like to have kids but don’t currently. Asking about family opens them up to talk about parents, siblings or other relatives. If they are married or have kids it’s likely they’ll talk about that.

Where are you originally from? This can be really interesting. For example, I was born in Hawaii. I didn’t live there very long but when it comes up it always sparks interest. Because I went back on my honeymoon then again 20 years later I can talk somewhat about the islands and people find that interesting because most have not been there.

Do you like to travel? This is a natural follow up to “Where are you originally from?” Someone may not have been born in a place you find interesting but that doesn’t stop them from visiting interesting places. When they relate having been to Europe, Australia, China or some other location they will probably recall a good time…and begin associating the good feelings with you.

What do you do for a living? It’s unfortunate that polls tell us most people don’t enjoy their jobs but still, when you spend 40 hours or more at work it is significant enough to warrant conversation. Quite often what seems to be mundane to them might be very interesting to you. And, when you don’t happen to know a lot about their line of work and ask questions they get to feel like an expert.

What sports or hobbies do you enjoy? This one is a big one for most people, especially in America. Many fans are literally fanatical about their teams. My wife Jane is a great example. She’s a Steelers fan through and through. Every Sunday she makes her favorite dip for her chips and has a Diet Coke. If it happens that the Steelers are not on a local station then we’re off to a sports bar so she can watch them play. And yes, she wears the jersey or other team related items to let the world know she’s a Steelers fan. You can’t go wrong by asking her about the team and so it is with other people.

Some people don’t like to watch, they want to participate so it’s good to ask about hobbies. When people hang glide, sky dive, water ski, golf or do any number of other activities it’s because they’re passionate about it. Ask them and they relive a little passion and that’s good for you.

So there you have it, another solid tip to help you make friends and influence people. Like any advice, it will only have a positive effect if you actually do it. I challenge you this week to ask a lot of questions then sit back and “be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves.” Do this and you’ll see a positive response coming your way.

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”