Nov 15, 2013

6 Critical Steps to Unlimited Friendships

One of the best ways to guarantee success in your career or small business is to master the art of communication.  One book that has resonated with me over and over again throughout the last decade is Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People.  As far as self help books go, this is one of the absolute best all time reads.

Broken into sections, it highlights critical steps to becoming a great communicator and will leave the reader with a set of tools to build exceptional relationships.  As the title suggests, ("How to Win Friends...") the following 6 critical steps will allow you to get anyone you desire to like you and are a great resource to refer back to often.

1. Become genuinely interested in other people

One of the easiest ways to improve your communication skills is to develop an insatiable desire to learn about others and their experiences.  This simple step can do more for you than any of the others, and deserves some meaningful reflection and thought. 

In the conversations you have throughout the remainder of your day, focus on finding a solid interest in other people, and convince yourself that the person you are speaking to is your greatest idol or someone of extreme importance, such as the President, or the CEO of your company.  View whoever you are speaking to as the holder of a secret that will lead to your absolute success, and seek it out.  Undoubtedly, you will begin to see a change in the positive way people respond to you.

2. Smile

It may seem overly simple, but the first feeling I get when I see an honest smile is a sense of calm.  I feel relieved and know that the person I'm speaking to isn't hostile and likes communicating with me.  The smile is missed by a large percentage of people as we all have a tendency to think and fret about how we look and how we are perceived.  This sense of worry can prohibit our bodies from feeling relaxed and full of joy. 

Take some time each day to ask yourself, "Am I smiling when I speak to others?"

3. Remember that a man's name is to him the sweetest and most important sound in the English language

I think this one is a little confusing for some. 

Look at it this way, one of the best ways to really implement this step is when you are already in a conversation with the other individual.

"Steve!  Come here!  I need to ask you something!"

This is not nearly as pleasing as:

"You know, Steve... you bring up an excellent point.  I hadn't thought about it that way."


"Let me tell you, Steve, the Luau was spectacular and I highly recommend it for you and Lucy."

It makes a conversation much more personal, and as the heading suggests, a person's name is the sweetest, most important sound in the English language.

4. Be a good listener, encourage others to talk about themselves

If this step seems difficult for you at first, you are on the cusp of a revolution in your social and professional life.  Watch as those around you suddenly light up as they emphatically respond to your question about their child's soccer match, or of their recent trip to a painter's convention.  

My rule of thumb is the more obscure the interest, the more excited they'll become.  Some common areas of excitement for people include family, hobbies, trips, their small business, or their favorite sports team.  I can assure you that by encouraging others to talk about themselves, you will have abundant and fulfilling friendships that will last many years.

5. Talk in terms of the other man's interests

No, this isn't a typo.  I know it's very similar to the last step, but it is so vitally important it needs to be re-emphasized and re-stated.

As soon as you catch yourself bringing up that recent trip to see your Grandmother, or how much fun you had surfing the other day, remind yourself that the person you're speaking to is ready to explode with their own stories, and hidden within one of them may be that secret I was referring to up in #1. 

Let them carry on about their dogs, or how much they made in Las Vegas.  You will be rewarded with a fantastic friendship, or a tight relationship with a co-worker that will pay dividends again and again.

6. Make people feel important, and do it sincerely

Lastly, I have a very simple tip to remember each and every day.  This is so important, it's worth writing on your bathroom mirror in permanent marker so you can see it and rehearse it aloud each morning.

Every one in the world may as well have a sign around their neck that reads, "Make me feel important."

Studies of psych ward patients have again and again pointed to an odd reason for their illness.  It seems that, more often than not, the patients found a sense of importance in the world they have created for themselves.  It's almost as if in their own head, they finally recieved that sense of importance they had always desired in the real world. 

This is why patients tended to believe they are billionaire businessmen, or very important diplomats from powerful nations.  One woman referenced in Mr. Carnegie's book even went mad and left her husband, because as a stay at home wife and mother, she never recieved the recognition and admiration she always desired. 

So remember that if people end up going insane seeking the feeling of importance they had never been able to find in the real world, can you imagine their excitement and elation with a simple, honest statement about their importance from you?  It will blow your mind!

I hope you find these tips to be helpful in your personal and professional relationships, and as always I welcome you to browse the archives for other helpful posts.

Kindest regards,

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