“Why read this book to find out how to win friends? Why not study the technique of the greatest winner of friends the world has ever known? Who is he? You may meet him tomorrow coming down the street. When you get within ten feet of him, he will begin to wag his tail. If you stop to pat him, he will almost jump out of his skin and show you how much he likes you. And you know that behind this show of affection on his part, there are no ulterior motives; he doesn’t want to sell you any real estate, and he doesn’t want to marry you.”
–How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie
How awesome is that? I’m four chapters into this book, with many of the pages now bookmarked and highlighted, but nothing had impressed me as much as that paragraph which I read last night. Think about it. The person you most want to talk to is not the person who tells you about himself, it’s the one who asks you to tell him about yourself. We thrive when we feel important. We feel important when we think others care about us. We think others care about us when they show interest in us. We love to talk about our own lives.
The most used word in the English language? “I”. That alone speaks volumes about our predisposition to talk about ourselves. We human beings are egotistic. We are self-centered. We are selfish people. Sure, some of us have been able to overcome these tendencies and act in a giving manner, putting others’ needs first. However, in our minds we instinctively react with concern for our own person first. It’s human nature.
For the record, I am as guilty of this as the next person.
While you can not change your instincts, you can change your output. Great leaders are not the ones who command others, they are the ones who motivate others. Want to be a leader? Stop talking about yourself. Begin asking about them. You gain more by caring less about yourself, and more about others.
Can you imagine how great it would feel if everyone you talk to tomorrow were wagging their figurative tail and wanted to dive deeply into conversation about you? It would feel pretty darn good, right? Kind of make you feel on top of the world. Well, why not be that person to someone else? Make it a point tomorrow to turn conversation about you into conversation about them. Use “I” less. Don’t chime in with a story of your own experience; ask more questions about them. See where the chat goes and how good you feel about it. I’m betting you’ll make that certain someone’s day and, in turn, the feeling will give you your own set of warm fuzzies. People respond when they know they are cared about.
And really, who couldn’t use their own set of warm fuzzies?
“We are interested in others when they are interested in us.”
Publilius Syrus, Roman poet