One of my favorite books of all time is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People. Originally written in 1936, it contains timeless advice for connecting with people.
Human behavior hasn’t changed much over the past 77 years. People still want to be treated with respect and valued for who they are — not for what they can give.
Influence Master Tip: become genuinely interested in other people
That was Carnegie’s first of six principles on how to get people to like you. Show genuine interest in people and they’ll like you.
My brother-in-law’s ex once ran for a political office. When I asked how her campaigning was going, she said with a grimace, “I really want it but I just don’t like people.” I guess she missed the “public service” aspect of the job. It wasn’t surprising when she didn’t win the election. Most politicians are geniuses when it comes to connecting with their voter base, even if they secretly hate it.
My dear mother, who passed away in 2007, knew how to make people feel important. She did a very simple thing whenever she met someone.
She would ask them how they were doing.
And then she would genuinely listen to their response.
I say “genuinely” because her question wasn’t a perfunctory one. She wasn’t asking to be polite. She was asking because she was honestly interested in the other person.
You can tell when someone is asking you about your life and they have very little concern about your answer.
These are the people who ask how you’re doing and then act like you’re giving them the Great American Novel as the answer. They look away from you, fidget nervously, or interrupt you to tell you what’s been going on in their life.
How does that make you feel?
Well I can tell you how it makes me feel. I feel unwanted, undervalued, and unloved.
Sometimes even family can’t do this for us
I had this revelation recently. I realized that I would much rather spend time with my entrepreneurial friends than some family members.
Because my entrepreneurial friends asked how things were going in my life. They cared about my answer.
More specifically: they cared about what I cared about.
Some of my family members don’t care. We see each other maybe twice a year, if that. A few of them never learned the art of true conversation and certainly not the principles of Carnegie’s book. They lack a genuine interest in people, even in their own family.
Although the family dynamic can be dicey, you can use such gatherings for practice. If you can show genuine interest in Aunt Melba who only cares about her precious dachshund, Boopsie, then there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be able to show interest in anyone.
Why influence matters for your business
People do business with those whom they think care about them.
In Carnegie’s book, he tells the story about a magician. This magician was a masterful performer but what made him unique was his ability to show his audience that he genuinely cared about them.
He told Carnegie that many magicians would look out at their audience and think, what a bunch of hicks… I’ll fool them all right.
But this smart magician approached things quite differently.
When he went on stage, he said he was grateful that people came to see him, that by attending his show, they allowed him to do what he loved to do. And then he made up his mind that he was going to give them his very best efforts to entertain them.
He said he never stepped in front of his audience before saying this:
I love my audience. I love my audience.
How would such an approach affect your business? How would it affect the content you produce? How would it affect the quality of your service?
You can fake a lot of things but you can’t fake interest. Show people that you genuinely care and you’ll have people seeking you out at any gathering. Love them.
It’s a radical approach in our self-absorbed world, where many “gurus” talk about themselves incessantly and social media butterflies strain to be noticed. But if you take this approach, you’ll outpace them all.
Because people respond well to those who show a genuine interest in them.