Have you read the book by Dale Carnegie “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. I cannot remember when I first came across this book, but it must have been a long time ago. I didn’t say I had read it!
However, this morning as I was doing my usual early morning trawl on LinkedIn (it’s now 6.26am) I came across a fascinating post and it set me thinking. It started with a video of this book, and then a hand opened it to reveal a postit, roughly half way through the book. The hand appeared, it opened the book, revealing a postit which said “Don’t be a dick”. So if you want to win friends and influence people don’t be a dick.
This set me wondering. I listen to a lot of CDs in the car while I am driving. The subjects cover many aspects of business and personal development. I probably spend 8 to 10 hours in the car every week so it is a good time to learn.
I have heard it said that if you use the time you spend driving to learn a new skill, then after a couple of years you might have learned say, a new language. I have dozens of CDs and I regularly listen to ones I have not heard for a while. It’s amazing how much I missed first time around, or maybe I have just forgotten. The other way to look at this is that the first time of hearing I was not ready for the information, but now I am better prepared to understand and absorb the information which is now more valuable to me. It’s not that the information has changed, but maybe I have. When the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear.
Anyway, my LinkedIn experience this morning set me thinking. I listen to a lot, and there is a lot of good stuff there to absorb and understand, but I think we sometimes forget the basics. So, you can read a book like “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and I am sure it contains many gems that you can take and use to your advantage. But if you act like a dick, it does not matter what you know, you will not get the chance to apply anything, because you have already been written off in the minds of those you want to influence.
Then there are the different approaches when dealing with men and women. I am not sure where I first came across this. It may have been in the book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”. Yes, I do read occasionally, but rarely a whole book.
I have applied this so many times that I am certain in my own mind that it is correct. You may disagree. That is up to you but all I would say is, ignore this at your own peril.
This rule states that when you want a decision from a man, give him 3 choices and tell him which one you prefer. He will probably agree with you. When dealing with a woman, never tell, always ask her what she thinks, then wait for the answer and if you are on a wavelength, 9 times out of 10 she will agree with you, without even knowing what you were thinking. Agree with me or not. I don’t care. I will continue to apply this approach whatever you say.
Following on from this there is a piece of advice that I have volunteered to several women recently. It usually follows them saying “but I told him” and frequently “but I told you”. Too subtle! Men are generally strangers to subtlety. You may be different, but before you disagree with me, check with the woman or women in your life.
The advice that I give and will continue to give to any woman who feels frustrated that she is not being listened to by a man is that if you want something done, write it on a post it, take a 6 inch nail and plant the postit and nail squarely in the man’s forehead. That subtle!
This goes along with never starting a sentence with “Do you remember”. Waste of time!
To me, these are the fundamentals, like not being a dick. They are the foundations upon which you can build. Grasp the basics and then you can apply all those other skills that you have spent your lifetime accumulating. Get the basics wrong and nobody will care how much you know.
Let me leave you with one final piece of advice. We all need social skills and part of any interaction either on a social or business level means taking an interest in other people and understanding as much as you can about what makes them tick, what are their frustrations, goals etc. It is embodied in the words “nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care”. Be a dick and they don’t care how much you know. Stop being a dick and show interest and empathy, then they start to listen to you.
We all have certain basic approaches to life that we apply every day. Many are absorbed as we grow up. Others we have picked up along the way, but this just underlines that throughout your life, every day is a school day.
Time to go to my next lesson!
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Alan E Long
The Long Partnership