Dale Carnegie wrote “How to Win Friends and Influence People” almost eighty years ago, but his timeless advice might help you up your social game in 2014. When you move to a new community, it is only a matter of time before you meet new people at the neighborhood pool or make introductions at your new school or workplace. Carnegie’s advice will help you start off these relationships on the right foot. Uncomfortable introductions and awkward first encounters are inevitable when you move to a new town. Meeting people for the first time can leave us tongue-tied or unsure of what to say. Avoid those long pauses and lulls in the conversation, by taking a page out of Dale Carnegie’s famous self-help book.
Smile – “You’re never fully dressed, though you may wear your best…without a smile”. There is a reason why there are a million phrases and songs about smiling, because it’s true! Even if you have to wear a pretend smile at first, hopefully a real one will soon follow. You instantly become more approachable, more likable, more everything-able when you smile.
Use the other person’s name- What is the first word you learn to write? Your name. Most people love to hear their name spoken. It is probably one of the first words learned as a child and one most frequently heard by that individual. Carnegie reminds, “remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language”. Don’t shrug off the opportunity to learn someone’s name. Sure, we are all bad with names at first, but with practice you can improve. Repeating the person’s name will help you remember it and the person will begin to have a positive association with the experience of meeting you.
Listen – The hardest part of any conversation, may not actually be the talking, but the listening! Don’t impatiently wait for a pause in the conversation so that you can interject. Instead, encourage the other person to talk about themselves. Do most of the listening and let the other person do most of the talking. Talk more about the other individual than you do yourself. We are all human (well, some of us are cows), and we can’t deny the instinct to talk about ourselves, our accomplishments, hobbies and favorite TV shows, etc. Use the introductory conversation as a prime time to learn as much as possible about the other person. In a social setting, you can determine if this is a person you would like to develop a deeper friendship with, while in a professional setting any information learned may help you later on.
Others first – The fine art of conversation has more to do with asking questions than filling silent pauses. If you know how to lead the conversation through questions, you can learn more about others. Through developing a sincere interest in other people and asking questions related to their interests and lives, you can help to fast track a new relationship. Making the other person feel important will encourage them to share things with you.
Do you find Dale Carnegie’s advice relevant?