Back in 1936, Dale Carnegie put together a small booklet called “The Golden Book.” In it, he listed a number of rules or principles from two of his successful books “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.” I recently was reminded of his “Golden Book” and had a chance to review it again. Timeless tips that seem to transcend generations and can be beneficial for all of us as we start out the new year.
Carnegie said his principles can help you “think new thoughts, acquire new visions, discover new ambitions, make friends quickly, increase your popularity, win people to your way of thinking, increase your influence, and your ability to get things done, keep your human contacts smooth and pleasant, become a better speaker, and arouse enthusiasm among your associates.” That is quite an exhaustive list, and yet I think his principles really are able to help us with all of these aspects.
He says that if you want to become a friendlier person, you should follow the nine principles listed below:
1.Don’t criticize, condemn or complain. As Carnegie noted, “any fool can do these things, and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving. Focus on understanding them and figure out why others do what they do.”
2.Give honest, sincere appreciation. A famous quote by Charles Schwab that I love to use in leadership sessions clearly illustrates this principle: “In all my meetings with many great people, I have yet to find the person, however great or exalted, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than he would ever do under a spirit of criticism.”
3.Arouse in the other person an eager want. When you want to persuade someone to do something, think about how you can make him or her want to do it. As Henry Ford noted, “see things from the other person’s point of view.” Author Stephen Covey also said to “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
4.Become genuinely interested in other people. Focus on learning about them, not just about telling them about you. This will forge an almost immediate friendship.
5.Smile. A smile says that you like someone and that you are happy to see them. So many people that I have coached have used smiling as a way to transform their relationships with those around them, and it has worked.
6.Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language. It is amazing to me how often people do not even try to learn someone’s name or use it. And yet when they do use it, wow — it really has an impact on the other person. They no longer feel like just a number.
7.Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves. People are generally more interested in themselves than in others, so it is incredibly flattering to someone when you listen to their stories.
8.Talk in terms of the other person’s interests. Learn what their interests are and listen to them sharing their ideas about their interests.
9.Make the other person feel important — and do it sincerely. Psychologists have always noted that people have a strong desire to feel a sense of importance, so if you can enable them to feel that importance, you will have done something remarkable for them.
He adds some tips for how to win people to your way of thinking: Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say “you’re wrong,” and if you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically. If people followed these principles, it would certainly lower the number of needless arguments.
Carnegie notes that you have to continually practice these principles and keep them forefront in your everyday behavior. Why? Because to behave differently, we have to keep practicing to learn new habits, and “this requires time and persistence.”
So, pick one principle and work on it for some time. Ask someone close to you which one principle you should start on first (if you dare!). Then tell a friend, relative, or colleague that you are working on that particular principle, and then ask for feedback each week on how you are doing. Or, as Carnegie says, you could have them collect a dollar from you every time they catch you violating the principle. Once you feel you are making progress, then start on the next principle, and so on.
Carnegie’s “Golden Book” is a priceless gem. It is full of timeless ideas that really have been shown in practice to enable you to become a better and more successful leader, employee or person.
Joyce E. A. Russell is the vice dean and the director of the Executive Coaching and Leadership Development Program at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. She is a licensed industrial and organizational psychologist and has more than 25 years of experience coaching executives and consulting on leadership and career management. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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