Turn people skills from weakness to strength
People skills. Social situations. I have to admit are not my strengths.
Troubling for what I do, since I meet new people everyday.
Last week, we learnt that passion is a career-killer. This week is a good opportunity to share how to turn working with people from a weakness to a strength.
All thanks the late Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends & Influence People. A game changer in how I viewed social situations, we will see how this activity turned from one that filled me with anxiety to a natural and smooth exercise. This book also helped in my job as an optometrist. My interaction with patients and work colleagues improved all with three simple ideas:
- make the other person feel important
- avoid arguments
- be genuine
I became a better person as a whole thanks to this.
But wait! Maybe you do not struggle with social situations like I did? If you do or if you don’t, the ideas from this book will still be useful to apply. So, let’s dive right in!
Make the other person feel important
People are not interested in you. They are not interested in me. They are interested in themselves — morning, noon and after dinner.
All of us yearn to feel important. Knowing this, our objective becomes simple: make the other person feel important.
This idea is the most important in the book. So, if you had to take something, this would be it.
Before I had any sense, my objective social situations was to be a interesting person.
How does one become interesting? Gain lots of life experience. Have lots of hobbies. Have exclusive things.
So I thought… I would plan travel, join clubs, fill my life up with stuff. All in the plan of creating an illusion of interest.
When talking up all I had done and all that I had, I could see the disinterest in others. Still sad, still feeling socially inadequate. As time went on, I finally became enlightened by the ideas of Dale Carnegie.
I was right about being interesting. But the way to become interesting requires effort of a different kind. You only have to show interest in the other person — to make the other person feel important.
We are interested in others when they are interested in us.
— Publilius Syrus
It was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. No need to stress over the next travel opportunity, the time-commitment of a hobby, or the next toy.
All that is needed is to make the other person the center of interest.
Work still needs to be done, though.
Instead of gloating about ourselves, we actively listen. We use our ears. We shut down our inner dialogue that is putting the spotlight on us. We shine light on the other person in what they are saying. Their tales become the focal point of the conversations.
We follow up with questions furthering our curiosity and interest in the other person.
This makes them feel important. This makes us interesting and pleasant to be around.
Nine times out of ten, an argument ends with each of the contestants more firmly convinced than ever that [they are] absolutely right.
Abilities wither under criticism; they blossom under encouragement
The same goes with criticising others. It’s best avoided.
The objective of two people talking is to share ideas. Both parties grow.
The objective of two people arguing is for one person to win. Both parties end up losing.
We can nod and still hold our opinions. We can say our opinion and leave it at that. Agree to disagree.
Criticism works the same. When criticising an other person, this will only activates a self-defense mechanism, which acts to preserve their ego. Once this has happened, the other person is only likely to hold their position and justify their actions.
Not only does the other person become defensive, their sense of importance is lost as well. This violates our first principle: to make the other person important.
Remember we are dealing with human beings filled with emotion. Feelings and pride drive us. So instead of criticising, seek to understand.
Put yourself in their shoes and see it from their point of view first.
Anyone can criticise. It takes self-control to seek understanding.
Working as an optometrist, this skill is particularly important. Since we come from a position of knowledge, it is very easy to think that we know more than others — “therefore we are right”.
Obviously, proving others — our patients and colleagues — wrong only belittles then. We must instead aim to listen and understand, see from their point-of-view, preserve their importance, and only then provide guidance to a better outcome.
The difference between appreciation and flattery? That is simple. One is sincere and the other insincere. One comes from the heart out; the other from the teeth out. One is unselfish; the other selfish. One is universally admired; the other universally condemned.
Carnegie’s book is not in the business of manipulating others. We are striving to become better versions of ourselves.
Making the other person important and the absence of criticism work, but they only work if we are genuine.
When we do these things, we are considering others people’s best interests rather our own. It is important not to neglect ourselves, but at the same time we don’t want to make it about ourselves all the time.
In reality, we do things because we want something for ourselves.
If we do this for our own gain — out of insincerity — we won’t go very far. It is important to make our underlying motivation: we should do things to become better people.
It became less about how people see us and more about putting the other person first.
As an optometrist, the perspective shifts from business, selling glasses and profit to providing an outstanding service to others’ vision and eye health.
To go on further, for whatever occupation we are in, the objective is to use your skills to serve others sincerely.
Socialising was a fear-inducing past time of mine. Thankfully, I crossed paths with the late Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends & Influence People.
This book changed the landscape for me. Instead of being stuck in our mental vanity, we make the other person feel important.
We actual listen to what they to say and take genuine interest.
If there is disagreement, we see it from their point-of-view first. We make effort to preserve the other’s sense of importance. We avoid arguments and criticism, because all this does is make the other person defensive and hurt their pride.
Finally for all this to work, we must be genuine. We are not trying to ‘hack’ other people. We are focusing on becoming better human beings.
Remember that this summary is just a summary. Nothing beats reading the book. In addition to this, we must actively apply these principles for them to stick.
Please let me know if you have difficulty in social situations and if this helped you out. Maybe you have no trouble with social situation, but I want to know: did some of these ideas improve your relationship with others?
All you have to do is comment below.