This book by Dale Carnegie was recommended by an old friend Josh Tryon and has been a welcomed dose of wisdom for me and Rana. We’re both reading the book and have nearly completed it. While the title sounds like something very manipulative, it is far from that. How To Win Friends and Influence People provides a pattern for communication that focuses on the other person almost to an extreme.
To summarize what I’ve learned from this book is that honoring others in our communication is by far the best way to win their admiration. It should go without saying that people are drawn to those who are interested in them much more than to people who constantly try to show how great they are.
The basic communication skills are to draw the other person out by showing interest in them and the things that interest them. To listen much more than you speak and to honor others’ points of view by listening intently, and to listen much more than engaging in argument.
A summary of the communication points could be: “Be an interesting person by primarily being interested in the person you are speaking to.”
I am still confused about what this looks like in a setting where the person you’re hanging out with is all too willing to spend the entire night doing all of the talking. I think we’ve all experienced people like that. I’ve been that guy at times too. I guess the character trait to develop is to genuinely be interested in the other person even if you don’t ever get to share anything of your own. In this case you know that person will walk away thinking highly of you, even if you walk away feeling that they are a bit selfish. I guess the alternative is to have compassion on them for the fact that they don’t have anyone in their lives who truly listens and be happy to play that role in their lives for a conversation.
One of the interesting points to consider is that most people are deeply offended when one disagrees with them, so it is of paramount importance to find common ground when discussing an issue with clear disagreement. The goal is not to obscure that which is true, but to have a conversation where all parties stay engaged. This precludes one from putting the other party on the defensive and breaking down communication.
I used to be very abrasive in my disagreements with people and I still struggle with how to have good conversations on areas of disagreement without it turning into a competitive back and forth or just shutting down when I don’t want to get into a debate. I’m trying to internalize the lessons of this book so that I can put them to work for me and to become a person who is genuinely interested in hearing the other side of issues.
While I’ve loved the whole book, the first chapter was perhaps the most salient for my time in Turkey. The principle of the first chapter is “Don’t Condemn, Criticize or Complain.” Combined with the Bible verse “Do everything without grumbling or complaining,” this has been a powerful lesson to try to internalize.
I’ve been hyper-aware of how much complaining goes on in Turkish conversation. It’s really sad – especially during a wonderful summer holiday to see so many people drawn to such negative communication. The challenge has been to not be drawn to complain and not to condemn those who do. I’ve had some challenges to deal with – a car accident, loss of a new work computer and increased unexpected costs on a project going on at our home.
The challenge has been to refuse to engage in complaining about these issues and enjoy our getaway to Turkey despite these externals. It’s been GREAT! I haven’t been perfect in this area, but I’ve seen real victory.
The tie-in with this book has been that in my reflections on Good To Great, it seems that a person who is able to communicate and honor others in a style consistent with this book would be a level-five leader as described in Good to Great. In that way it gives me great practical advice in my journey to becoming “level five.”
I can’t recommend this book highly enough. There’s so much wisdom in it.
What do you think? Does it sound manipulative to you?