I Wanted to be Cool
Sure I think my life is sweet now, but growing up building computers and playing video games in the 90’s cast me as a nerd. Sure I had friends, but we were basement dwelling gamers... I wanted to get out and meet girls.
The self-recognition of my nerdiness drove me into self-help at a young age because I wanted to understand what made people “cool.” I picked up my copy of the self-help classic, How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie around 2006. Although the stories were dated, I read the book, reflected on its teachings, and applied what I could remember. The advice was solid and helped me long into the future. I still own that same copy today!
The book lays out sets of principles while teaching the following:
- Three fundamental techniques for handling people.
- Six ways to make people like you.
- Twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking.
- Nine ways to persuade people without arousing resentment.
The 6 Principles
In this article, I’ll introduce the six principles for making people like you as described by the book. These principles, when executed correctly, show others that you’re a caring and thoughtful person, and help you form a memorable connection.
1. Become genuinely interested in other people…
The first principle embodies the law or reciprocity. Essentially, by showing interest in others, others will have a psychological urge to show interest back. Although it might seem like straight-forward advice, this first principle was one of the toughest for me to overcome.
My problem is that I overwhelmingly focus on bringing people into my interests, and I often forget that they have interests and an agenda of their own. For a long time, my interest in another stopped where their disinterest of my interests began. It was a vicious cycle that often left me disappointed because I built up expectations in my head that others could not meet.
This is something I still work on today! Thanks to social media, it is easy to connect with people who already share interests. Connect with them and ask about their projects, goals, advice, ect…
When you put yourself out there, you find that most people are pretty nice or at least well mannered enough not to be jerks.
This principle delves into the importance of first impressions. As odd as it sounds, forcing yourself to smile really can make you feel better. When doing it in public, other people will notice and smile back too! That being said, I try to be careful with this one. Smiling is good, but walking around like a grinning idiot might have the opposite affect.
Personally, I practice smiling in a mirror. I try to understand how my face feels when I get it into a pose I think looks good. That way, when I’m out in public, I know the difference between having an inviting smile and looking like a fool.
Practicing smiling in a mirror might sound funny, but it really does help build confidence!
3. Remember that people often love hearing their name…
Remembering someone's name is an easy way to make them think you care about them. Of course, like all the principles use caution when applying! I love when someone remembers my name, but I don’t particularly like hearing my name repeated.
While growing up, whenever my dad came home and knew I was in the house, he’d always yell my name. It started to drive me nuts over the years and still affects on some level. Hearing my name just puts me on edge.
I find this principle particularly useful when I first meet someone. Saying their name often will help me remember it, and it draws attention whether the person loves or hates to hear it. For example, when I’d approach someone in a bar or club, I’d use their name a lot to retain their focus and show that I remember it.
Remembering a person’s name shows you care, at some level. It helps establish a connection.
4. Be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves…
This principle helped me a lot because I’ve always been terrible at small talk. I also think this principle relates a lot to principle one and the law of reciprocity. People will often listen to you if you listen to them.
I tend to use patterns like this when striking up conversations to encourage the person to open up:
Hey, have you XYZ? I was looking into XYZ and wondered if you have advice about getting started?
I saw that you like ABC, I used to ABC how have things changed in that scene/industry?
I really like your XYZ, what inspired you to do that?
Depending on the conversation, I’ll ask follow up questions or try to relate to the person with my own anecdote.
To show that I’m listening, I tend to use eye contact, nod my head in agreement, repeat parts of what the person is telling me.
5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests…
Know thy audience is Technical Communication 101, and that’s the fifth principle in a nutshell. Back when I used online dating and made a connection with someone, I’d do a little Googling to see what I could find. Often I’d read up on their listed interests to have more to talk about too.
Another time this principle carries weight is in job interviews! Always be sure to research the company and the person/people interviewing you if possible. Doing some LinkedIn due diligence will go a long way!
By engaging a person based on their interests, the person tends to lower their guard, becoming open and agreeable.
6. Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely…
Making someone feel important is not that hard, especially with social media reminding us of birthdays and notifying us when our friends are promoted. I do my best to say happy birthday or congratulate someone on a new roll whenever it pops up on my social feed. Taking 5 seconds out of my day to make someone feel important goes a long way, and you never know what opportunity that connection might bring.
Behind the final principle is wisdom as old as time… Stay humble and Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Although the Golden Rule is great advice to live by, it has limitations because some people have no problem treating themselves poorly.
Simply treat others how they want to be treated instead of treating them how you want to be treated.
Like many others, my journey into the self-help domain is a never end excursion. Although the content is dated, the book is still worth a read. There is a reason How to Win Friends & Influence People has stayed in print for over 80 years. It is filled with solid advice that will always be applicable.
1. Become genuinely interested in other people
3. Remember that people often love hearing their name
4. Be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves
5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests
6. Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely
Thanks for reading! I typically blog about Programming and Data Science. Check out my other articles:
How to Start a Business in an Afternoon Using Python and Dash
A Step by Step Guide to Starting an Online Business
I Drank Two Colas A Day for Breakfast for More Energy — & Here’s What Happened
A Tale About Working from Home and Drinking Soda