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How to Make Friends

A few weeks ago, while clearing out some books, I discovered an old paperback copy of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, first published in 1936. Although it’s a little antiquated – it speaks only of business men, for instance – the principles still apply. One in particular seemed to sum up all the principles he had previously introduced: “Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.”


The other points in the chapter, titled “Six Ways to Make People Like You,” were

  • Be genuinely interested in other people.
  • Smile.
  • Remember that a man’s name is to him the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  • Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  • Talk in terms of the other man’s interest.
  • Five Ways to Make Others Feel Important

    These are also ways you can make others feel important — and make them your friends.

    1. “Be” – not just “act” – interested in other people. Want to know them, their interests, their likes and dislikes.
    2. Make a personal connection by looking directly at people and smiling at them.
    3. Within reason, say their names at every opportunity. (This also helps you remember names.)
    4. Listen to their stories without wanting to tell your own, but with the aim of knowing them better.
    5. After you’ve done that, you will be able to speak in terms of their interests: Asking about their grandchildren or their favorite football team.

    Some people seem to do this naturally. When they talk to you, you feel as if no one else matters; for those moments, you are the most important person in the room. The rest of us, who have a tendency to relate whatever is happening in our own lives, may have to consciously develop this habit.

    The rewards

    It will help your interpersonal relationships. Genuine interest in another person develops trust.

    It engenders friendship. It makes others feel better about themselves when they are around you. It makes them better people for knowing you.

    As you interact with people, think about what would make them feel important. I predict you’ll experience an instant change of attitude. You’ll see that “difficult” person who always seems to be begging for attention in a different light. She doesn’t mean to be irritating; she only wants to feel important.

    You’ll listen more intensely when others speak, even if it’s on a topic that’s not usually of interest to you.

    You’ll be more attentive to members of your family. More than anyone else, they need to know they’re  important to you.

    Thanks, Mr. Carnegie. Even after 74 years, your words still ring true.

    Talk to me.

    Do you know someone who is naturally one of those intense listeners, who seems to hang onto every word you say? Or tell me of your reaction when someone who sees you infrequently somehow always remembers your name.


     

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