If you’ve ever heard of a little book called How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, then you’ll know that there are a few blank pages at the end of it for you to write down your experiences in applying the principles taught in the book.
My husband brought it home after talking to a woman he met while on a trouble call at her home (he works for a major communications company). She gave it to him after he was admiring her library collection and conversing about her entrepreneurial skills as a successful investor of stocks. The book is old in years. It is a hard-cover and the 84th printing. It is quite tattered and worn, the pages yellow. My husband loves all these physical qualities of books. To find the content just as fascinating was a bonus.
Over the past few years, I’ve read most of the book on my frequent trips to the bathroom. I like it because the chapters are short and to the point which is perfect because I am an in-out-of-the-bathroom type of person (TMI). In less than five minutes, I can just open it up to any page to see what lesson I could learn that day that’d help me be more successful in life (again, TMI). Many of them, I was happy to see, were principles that I already incorporated in my everyday life and I was most inclined to give myself a pat on the back. For example, “Six Ways to Make People Like You.” I feel that most people do like me because I am genuinely interested in other people. So, I’ll recall an incident that my children bring up and laugh about but not because it’s absurd, but because of what happened.
A little over two years ago now, my husband’s mother had just passed away and we were helping my father-in-law throw a garage sale as he was going to move North with his eldest daughter. Almost everything was up for sale. Only a few people stopped by throughout the morning and it wasn’t much success.
An elderly man came over and inquired about chairs. Were there any he might be able to purchase for his home? I smiled and told him we have all kinds…a folding kind, the lounging type, bar stools. He much liked the folding kind so he bought that one. He also bought the lounging type…it was quite sturdy and would be perfect for my wife, said he.
I then asked if he was interested in anything else…for his wife. And he thought about it. And he started telling me about her, his dear wife, how they’d been together for over 50 years (50 years??, I exclaim) and maybe she’d like a painting…well, take a look, let me know if you like any of these! Or, maybe she’d even like this jewelry armoire…”Oh my, that is too large for our home!” he answered. “But, she would definitely like that…it has lots of drawers!” As he inspected and remarked at the drawers I stepped back and let him think about it. “Ok! I’ll take it!” I made a $75 sale in less than twenty minutes!
As my sister-in-law and children huffed and puffed carrying the two chairs and the jewelry armoire to the man’s vehicle (I was pregnant at the time so I couldn’t lift more than twenty pounds…hehe) I continued talking to him and found out some more great information. He was originally from Chicago (Oh my! So is my husband and his family) and that he is a veteran police officer from up there and down here in Florida (Oh yes! I saw that you had a Vet sticker on your bumper!) and on and on for a good ten plus minutes more. It was quite interesting and I was glad to have met this old man and let him enjoy sharing stories of his youth, of his Life. As he was packing up his vehicle and ready to leave, I noticed him eye-balling the recycle bin at the end of the driveway, full of cookbooks and recipe magazines. He asked if he could look through them and see if any would be good to bring home to his lovely wife. I told him yes, most definitely! He ended up taking a box full of those, too. (No charge, but why would I?) I waved goodbye and he was off, thanking me for such great conversation.
I had made a good acquaintance and a little bit of money in the process, which was the goal of the garage sale, anyways. A success! My kids and, probably, my sister-in-law didn’t understand me. But, it wasn’t a lesson for them to learn then. It was a lesson for them to learn over and over again as they recalled the incident and laugh at me. “Mom, why do you always talk to people and when you like them, you put your hand on their shoulder? Why do you care? What is the point?”
We are all humans, we live for each other and we live for ourselves. We do things to get a result. We do them honorably and with a humble attitude, if you are so inclined. I do it because I love to hear other people’s stories. They are so different from mine! I love to learn something new about/from someone because, in turn, I learn something about/for myself. When I place my hand on their shoulder it’s because I feel a bond. I care because that is my nature, and again, a lesson learned is something I can teach to someone else. The point is that if I can show my kids compassion for others then they will be more mindful about themselves. They will learn to love and accept themselves. They will see that they are worth being interested in, just like that old man they saw mommy talking to. They will see that everything matters and it doesn’t take much effort to just listen.
So, if you want people to like you…
In a Nutshell
Rule 1 : Become genuinely interested in other people.
Rule 2 : Smile.
Rule 3 : Remember that a man’s name is to him the sweetest and most important sound in any language. (This is the only one I didn’t do…I never said I was perfect! Ha!)
Rule 4 : Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
Rule 5 : Talk in terms of the other man’s interests.
Rule 6 : Make the other person feel important-and do it sincerely.
Carnegie, Dale. How to Win Friends and Influence People. New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1936. Print.
Like Carnegie said, “In a Nutshell”(103).