Dale CarnegieOn the subject of gravity once more today we look at directly engaging in conversation with people for the first time. How do we make others interested in ourselves and our businesses? How do we influence people to engage in further discussions with us? How do you stand out from the crowd?

This was a subject Dale Carnegie approached within his 1936 book “How to Win Friends and Influence People“. In the section entitled “6 Ways to Make People Like You” he covered the following methods:

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people
  2. Smile
  3. Remember that a man’s name is to him the sweetest and most important sound in any language
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves
  5. Talk in the terms of the other man’s interest
  6. Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely

Bearing those 6 points in mind let’s re-evaluate those statements some 71 years later.

  1. Showing you are genuinely interested in what the other person has to say is of vital importance to keeping your fellow conversationalist engaged. This doesn’t mean random overstated nodding of the head, and grunting sounds of approval/disapproval, no it means keeping your focus. Keeping your attention and your gaze fixed on the person who is talking with you is imperative. If your gaze wanders to something interesting happening in the background even for a split second you’ll lose that persons confidence.
  2. Smile. Of course you should smile but only when it’s appropriate. Don’t be a miserable old sod and don’t constantly grin like a Cheshire cat.
  3. Remember that a man’s name is to him the sweetest and most important sound in any language”. Hmm, not sure about this one. Some people don’t like their names so to describe them as sweet sounding to the owner is somewhat presumptuous. However people do like to be remembered and showing that you know a persons name by calling them by it is always reassuring. I’m terrible at remembering a persons name but there is a trick I’ve learnt that can help with it. When you are first introduced to a person repeat their name back to yourself 5 or 6 times as you look at their face – associating a picture with a word effectively, seems to work for me. Let’s also not forget that we do often speak to women too in this modern world and they speak to us too! :-)
  4. Being a good listener isn’t just about keeping quiet and taking it all in, it’s more about active listening. Active listening is all about showing you understand by demonstrating you can relate to what the other person is saying. This can be through a series of well-timed nods or relating a similar experience back to the other person at an appropriate moment. Don’t interrupt though.
  5. Back to those men again. This is once again about active listening, the objective of which is to demonstrate mutual understanding of the person/topic. Don’t overstretch yourself though – if the subject is about football and you know nothing of football do not attempt to blag it as you will look like a fool. Instead find a conversational track that stems from football which you do understand, e.g. the building of the new Wembley Stadium.
  6. Making people feel important is top for keeping that contact interested in meeting up with you again. Compliment them on something they have said or have done and make room in the diary to meet up with them again. An loose comment around “let’s do lunch sometime…” just won’t cut it.

Dale was one of the pioneers of self improvement and even though his statements are a little out-dated they still hold true to the principles of modern interpersonal skills.

There will be more from Dale in the future.

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