There are few books which I revisit and reread once in six months. One such book would be "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie. I have the 1944 edition of this book which was given to my dad as a gift by his cousin brother. Yes, the book is old but the contents are not.
Every time I read this, I get something new out of that book as if I am reading the book for the first time. Today I got some quiet uninterrupted time for myself and was able to read some of it. This is what I got out of it. To establish good connection with people, these would be 10 big ones.
The best thing you can do when you meet someone for the first time is simply smile!
This is the number one secret for getting people to like you instantly – and it is free:-)
Try this time next you are in a crowd of strangers. Just smile gently and see what reaction you get back.
You can even go through your whole life wearing a goofy smile all the time – if nothing else, people will wonder what you are smiling about!
2. Remember their name.
When you first meet someone, ask them their name and then be sure to remember it.
If their name is unusual ask them how it should be correctly pronounced and even ask where it is from.
Be sure to address them by their name early on in the conversation – that will also help you remember it.
To most people, the sound of their own name is the most beautiful sound in the world!
3. Look people in the eye.
In any conversation, look at the person you are talking to and maintain eye contact as appropriate. This will also help you follow what they are saying.
Clearly you don’t want to spook them out by fixedly staring into their eyes either!
If you can’t get used to the idea of looking people in the eye, then practice looking into your own eyes in front of a mirror. This can be quite a confrontational exercise for some people but it will do wonders for your own self-acceptance.
4. Listen completely.
The greatest gift you can give a person is your undivided attention. Practice your listening skills by focusing completely on that person and being present.
Give them your 100% attention. Stop your mind from wandering and focus on what they are saying. Make the other person feel important. Your undivided attention tells the other person that you genuinely value them.
Be genuinely interested in other people. The emphasis here is on being interested rather than ‘interesting’. Be genuine about this and do not fake it. Focus on what they have to say rather than harping on about yourself and your own grandness!
Just remember the old saying – we all have two ears and one mouth – use them accordingly.
The key is to be completely present for the other person and to truly listen with your heart.
5. Build empathy and rapport.
As you listen, build empathy and rapport with your new friend.
Focus not on just the words but the nuances of what they are saying. For example, do they sound excited or bored when they talk about their job?
You will also pick up clues and remember what to talk about later in your conversation – they will be impressed with what you have remembered.
By truly empathizing with the other person, you will get to understand better their point of view. And people just adore those who are interested in their point of view!
6. Look for opportunities of helping them.
As you get to know someone better, look for ways of helping and supporting them perhaps by referring them to a friend who could be interested in their service.
Look for ways of connecting new friends with any existing like minded friends. If you have promised to do something for them, make sure you do so promptly.
You will soon create a reputation as someone who is highly connected, someone who can be trusted and someone who delivers! Building trust comes with being good for your word and being accountable.
7. Don’t give advice!
Sometime during a conversation with a new friend, you may be tempted to simply butt in and offer a solution.
However before you do so, always seek permission before you offer your input as people don’t like to be seen to be helpless.
Also, your advice should be subtly delivered rather than telling them bluntly what they should do.
Of course as your friendship develops you can be more forthcoming with your words of wisdom – but again with their permission of course.
Needless to say, it is important to be respectful of other people’s feelings and opinions. Be tactful as appropriate to the situation.
At the same time, though some people may seek out your advice they just don’t want to change – in that case, let them be and don’t make it your issue. My good friend Dr. Shamik Jain used to have this in the Email signature "Don't give advice-Fools don't heed it and Wise men don't need it".
8. Be positive.
Everyone likes to be around positive, energetic and bubbly, and not someone who is a merchant of doom and gloom.
As I heard someone say once – some people light up the room when they enter it, others light it up when they leave! Which one would you rather be?
So never dump your stuff on others. Life is too short to go around with a miserable face.
Also, learn to only say good things about others – never gossip about others as it will inevitably come back to you, and affect your friendships. Assume that anyone you are talking about can hear what you are saying about them. And actually at a subconscious level they are.
If people know you as a positive person who doesn’t get involved in gossiping, they will know you can be trusted and you will soon have a reputation as someone with integrity.
9. Be friendly and open.
It goes without saying that you must be friendly and open to make new friends! Yet so often people go through life closed and not open to new opportunities and friendships.
Knowing that everyone around you is doing the best they can, you can let down your own guard and become more open and even vulnerable.
Show your appreciation and gratitude in every way you can. Say your thanks genuinely and wholeheartedly to your new friends and especially to all those strangers who do so much to make your life convenient and easy, such as mailman and the janitor.
Your new friends will gauge you on how well you treat strangers – so make it a life long habit be always pleasant and friendly to all strangers who cross your path.
10. Be authentic and yourself.
Do you go through life trying to impress others with your status, fame and achievements? If that is the case, then know that doing so rarely makes people genuinely like you.
From today onwards, give up trying to impress others and especially so when you meet new people. Instead of blowing your trumpet too loudly, just be authentic.
Who you are will shine through more brightly than any number of accolades or worldly ornaments.
People will come and go from your life, but their impact and their essence remains with you forever.
It is therefore up to you what you make of their presence in your life – and by applying these, they can be friends for life
More than anything, to have a friend be one yourself.