A turning point in my life came in 1982, at age 25. I purchased a paperback copy of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” for 50 cents at a garage sale and kept it in my service truck. I used to read it at lunch. It inspired me to begin listening to audio cassettes, books on tape. I quit listening to my extensive blues collection, gave up the front page of the newspaper and began keeping a journal. I turned into a sponge.
As an HVAC technician, I had a C+ level of technical skills, but with Dale Carnegie’s help, I became an A+ People Guy. Sales and opportunity soon followed. It became my People Handbook, my human relations Bible. That copy is so dog-eared, pages fall out when I open it.
Born in Maryville, Mo., on November 24, 1888, Dale knew only poverty as a boy. He ascended to become the top salesman in his company and region by hard work and study. He moved to New York City in 1911 and began teaching public speaking courses at night so he could research and write during the day. In 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People was published in the teeth of the Great Depression. During the next 20 years, it went on to sell more than 5 million copies by his untimely death in 1955.
Dale believed and taught that it’s possible to change other people’s behavior by changing one’s behavior toward them.
The ideas seemed counter-intuitive to me at the time. He wrote things like: You can make more friends in two months by becoming genuinely interested in other people than you can in two years trying to get them interested in you.
Talk to someone about themselves, and they can listen for hours.
Any fool can criticize, complain and condemn, and most fools do. But it takes real character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.
I recently re-read this classic self-help book and listened to it on CD. I borrowed my 10 favorite principles from Dale and added 10 of my own to create my Top 20 Timeless People Principles. They are rewritten into affirmation format or goals. If you make these your own, adopt them, people will want to spend more time with you but won’t know why. They will go out of their way to see you, buy from you and tell you things they don’t tell their barber, banker or best friend.
So here we go: My Top 20 Human Relations Goals, submitted for your approval:
1. I smile to as many people as I can all day long. I insist on joy!
2. I have an amazing memory for names. I employ I.R.A. (impression, repetition, association) so a name sticks in my mind.
3. I dominate the listening in every conversation, and people enjoy being around me. I love to listen and learn all day long.
4. I employ ‘Yes AND’ while I listen to others talk. I keep the spotlight on other people. I observe, acknowledge and heighten what I hear to make my conversations about other people. It’s not about me.
5. I am a GOOD-Finder. I enjoy catching others doing things right. ‘Good for you!’ is my favorite phrase. I enjoy making other people feel important.
6. I avoid arguments with negative or mean people. I smile politely and walk away. I would rather be happy than right.
7. I show respect for other people’s opinions, often saying, ‘You feel strongly about that.”... I resist the temptation to correct, criticize or condemn.
8. When I am wrong, I promptly admit it. Life is too short to be a jerk.
9. I begin a conversation in a friendly way. My attitude and approach to others are consistently positive, affirming and kind.
10. I ask Open-Ended Questions (Who, What, Where, When, How, Why) to learn more about the people I meet. I am naturally curious.
11. I enjoy silence. I think twice and speak once or not at all.
12. I let other people feel the idea was theirs. I often give credit away. I build other people’s confidence and esteem. I grow people.
13. I am an Empathetic Person, easily and consistently seeing things from the other person’s point of view.
14. I am sympathetic with other people’s struggles and challenges. I truly care about my fellow man.
15. I appeal to a noble motive to inspire others to greater heights. I dare them, nudge them, assist them in releasing their potential. I throw down a challenge to raise the bar!
16. I dramatize my ideas with inspiring and relevant stories to make a point and motivate others to change for the better.
17. I genuinely love people and I am making a difference in people’s lives.
18. I consistently say positive or empowering things behind other people’s back. It usually gets back to them. I avoid gossip like a deadly virus.
19. I speak in terms of other people’s interests. I am OTHERCentered.
20. I affirm these goals twice a day, as they are rapidly becoming a natural and organic part of who I am. I know that all meaningful and lasting change starts first on the inside and works it way out. I love people and my life.
Imagine what would happen and how your relationships might change for the good if you read these 20 Goals twice a day for 30 days? Better still, record them on GarageBand, transfer to your iPhone and listen to them 10 times a day, like your favorite song while you drive, work out or nap. You just might win way more friends and influence everyone you meet ... but that wouldn’t work where you live. ... or would it?
I kind of miss that old service truck. Come to think of it, I kind of miss audio cassettes too ... you know, twisting the reel to make certain it plays right; OK, not really. Now where did I put my iPhone? I have some goals to listen to ...