How to Win Friends and Influence Peopleby Mary Sheehan Warren on 07/16/11
Last week I finished reading Dale Carnegie’s 1936 classic How to Win Friends and Influence People and I just knew I’d love a book that speaks of Al Capone in the present tense and begins a point with “Or, take the Teapot Dome Oil Scandal. Remember it?”
The book explained to me why salespeople speak the way they do. And while that may sound a bit cynical, I must say that I’m amazed at how many people in business don’t use the advice of this book. Clearly, there is common sense in a book which encourages its reader to continually remember the points of view of others and that a bad attitude rarely gets you what you want. The best part of the book for me was the chapter about wives who nag: Empress Eugenia, Countess Tolstoi, and my personal favorite, Mary Todd Lincoln. (No nagging husbands, but Disraeli scores points for never criticizing his silly wife.)
Anyway, I decided to apply its techniques to my dealings with the adolescents in my home. After all, if it successfully influenced a generation of tough Capitalists, why not my crowd of creampuffs?
So, I began with the first principle, If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive (part 1, chapter 1). I suppose that this means I should say things sweetly to ultimately get them to do what they should do.
“Let’s hang the clean clothes on hangers and throw the dirty ones down the laundry chute. It’s so nice to have a clean and organized room,” I say in my nice-mommy voice to Adolescent#1.
“Hey!” Adolescent #1 snaps back. “I like it this way. Don’t touch my stuff. And don’t try to run my life!”
Okay, that was unpleasant. Let's try the next principle: Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves. (Part 2, chapter 4)
“So, you say I am trying to run your life. Tell me about that.”
“I certainly wouldn’t want to run your life. It’s just too big and too important for someone like me to even imply that I could.” (Make them feel important, part 2, chapter 6)
“Okay, now you are just creeping me out,” and adolescent #1 leaves the room.
Well, that didn’t quite go the way I intended, so I look to adolescent #2 . It’s time to tackle wardrobe choices:
“Don’t you want to look beautiful? And wouldn’t it be wonderful to always make the right first impression?” (Get the other person saying ‘yes, yes’ immediately, Part 3, chapter 5)
“Yes, I do,” Adolescent #2 replies. “Only I’d like to know what kind of reverse psychology you are about to use.” And she eyes me suspiciously.
“Ha ha,” I laugh nervously. “I just thought…well, I think I heard you say, that you would like to replace the shorts you are wearing with uh…. something from my own wardrobe. That’s right; I remember correctly, now. You said something along those lines and I know that you have such a lot of fashion sense. I mean, I would never come up with such a sensible idea myself (Let the other fellow feel that the idea was his, part 3, chapter 7)
I am met with silence and a withering stare. I know that silence and I know that stare. It means that I had better rise to the challenge and apply the time-tested shock and awe strategy (also known as rapid dominance). Only this application is a little more awe than shock as it leaves its listener completely distracted by its profound randomness. Yup, it’s time for the best line in the book:
”Okay, take the Teapot Dome Scandal. Remember it?”