6 Steps to Building a Relationship
If you haven’t read Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” you have been living without information that can drastically improve your friendships, gain you respect in business relationships, and help you succeed in the world. Dale Carnegie teaches us a few basic principles about how to stand out as a compassionate leader and make people like you. We aren’t talking about Darth Vader mind control; these are practical techniques for increasing your charisma. Let’s break down the principles.
#1 Become genuinely interested in other people.
This is as straightforward as it comes. You cannot be friends with someone without being interested in them. Never waste time thinking about the next thing you want to say in a conversation. Instead, try to actively listen to what your conversation partner is saying. Have you ever told an amazing story to someone and noticed that they were nodding along, smiling, and asking appropriate questions? Having a captive audience is the best feeling in the world. Now think of the opposite situation: a dull, bored expression on someone’s face as they pretend to listen to what you are saying. If you want people to like you, be an enthusiastic audience!
It’s that easy. The time has come for us to show off your pearly-whites for friendship and science! Scientific research has shown that smiling has the power to boost your mood and draw people towards you. Smiling triggers our brain to release endorphins, so anytime we smile we are benefiting from it just as much as the person we are smiling at. Plus, we are all more likely to approach a smiling over a grouchy person.
#3 Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
We all like to be included, respected, and remembered. Saying someone’s name does just that. If you are meeting up with someone, make sure to call them by name. You’ll find that people will be likely to return the gesture, and in the they will be far more likely to give you the same sunny welcome. Don’t be that guy who calls everyone buddy, dude, or pal. We all see through that guy. The only people that can call you by the wrong name are substitute teachers. You are all excused. For the rest of us, remember to learn names, use them frequently, and enjoy the rewards.
#4 Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
We are tying right back into principle #1 with this idea. Everyone loves to talk about themselves and their interests, so let them. You may not care about underwater basket weaving but if you sit and listen, pushing the conversation along with active listening, you will gain a friend. Fair warning, this technique will cause you to become an expert in many things you never wanted to know about. However, we think the benefits are worth that price. Encourage people to talk about themselves by asking questions, but not about the weather. Your goal is to find a subject that they can get excited about. A word of advice: don’t ask too many questions, and don’t try so hard to think of questions that you forget to listen! No one wants to be interrogated or ignored. Just listen attentively, ask questions when you’re curious, and offer brief comments when you have them.
#5 Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.
This is just a better way of saying “speak someone’s language.” You wouldn’t travel to China and start speaking Spanish to people expecting them to understand. So, don’t go to your friends and talk about the NBA when you know they are more interested in online games. Break things down for people in their language. Communication is the basis of friendship so the better you can understand one another the deeper the bond. I have a very cute dog; I speak to him in terms of his interests. He cares about running at the park, eating treats, and riding in the car. All I have to say is “park,” “treat,” or “car,” and he will go crazy, literally shaking with excitement. However, if I say “vet,” we have a completely different reaction including some urination on the carpet, because he has no interest in that topic. People are more complex than dogs, but we still get excited about the things that interest us. Meeting people halfway with their interests can make all the difference in nurturing our relationships.
#6 Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.
Improper practice of #6 is the quickest way to undermine a friendship or relationship. People seem to have an innate ability to sense if a person is being genuine. Sure, there are those that struggle to pick up on the small signs that demonstrate respect or value, but most people can tell if you are pretending to like them based off your behavior. Channel the golden rule and let your actions reflect the respect that you want from your friends. If you sincerely try to make your friends feel important and respected, they will never forget it. You will find people that seek your company because they feel good around you. The result of this will be a large social network of people who respect and appreciate you. Practice this step; not only will you find success in business, but also happiness in life.
Whether you view these six items as steps to follow or a compilation of powerful principles, putting them into practice will result in the same thing: more friends and deeper relationships. Having more friends and deeper relationships should be everyone’s lifelong goal because it will bring you success and fulfillment. Never in the history of the world has having more enemies than friends worked out well for someone. There is a reason that we no longer settle conflicts with “duels of honor” and weapons. It is because we learned to be friends. Use these principles and solidify the relationships you already have.
Make tons of friends and be successful!