Over 30 million people worldwide have read Dale Carnegie’s classic book detailing the art of communications skills and success in business and everyday life. With such a large reach, it is no wonder it ranks in the top 100 books of all time. As the modern era has brought a shift in the consciousness of the average person, the question remains: How can we really win friends and influence people?
How to Truly Win Friends and Influence People
When you are in a joyful, radiant mood; isn’t it odd how the world seems to feed off it and shine brighter for you? And when you are in a foul, sour mood; doesn’t it rain just a little bit harder anywhere you stand?
People inherently mirror what is being given off by others. If you are mad, they will give you more reason to be. If you are happy, they will find a way to make you more so. No matter who you communicate with, this is a key concept to understand. If a coworker is having a rough day, it often only takes a kind word of encouragement or a smile to turn it around. Using your communications skills to read the people around you helps draw people in.
Seeing the Other as Yourself
In order to build lasting relationships, it is important seeing the other person as you see yourself. This means taking a genuine interest in the other person; which allows you to better influence them or build a friendship. Find a common ground between you, and use it to build rapport.
By becoming a good listener and encouraging the other person to talk about themselves; you help them to remove barriers that inhibit successful communication and cooperation. Give the speaker your undivided attention; nodding occasionally and giving only small verbal cues, not full sentence rebuttals. This lets them know that there is nothing more important to you than what they are saying and people respond well to feeling that someone is listening and understands them.
If you think about it, the best way to win an argument is to avoid it altogether by finding common ground. This is important; as rapport lost during heated talks is rarely regained, and may lead to gossip. The best way to avoid arguments is to take heed of another principle in the book; which is to see things from the other’s point of view. Honestly put yourself in their shoes, find what they need to be satisfied, and work from there. If a coworker brings up an issue they have with your behavior, don’t react. Take a few deep breaths and try to see what it is they need from you in order to be satisfied. If it is a simple solution; agree to make the change rather than defend yourself. In the end, retaining relationships is more important than being right.
Communications Skills and Constructive Feedback
When reviewing another person’s performance; it is important to handle it in the most effective way possible. This involves giving constructive feedback. Your communications skills allow you to describe aspects of their performance which you enjoyed, while simultaneously bringing attention to aspects which can use some work. The most common form of constructive feedback is called the sandwich method. In this method, an aspect of their performance which needs improvement is sandwiched between two beneficial things about them which can lead them to success. For example:
“Jane, I loved how you communicated with the entire team about your progress on the project. Your coding required revision by another employee, however. Your natural tendencies towards leadership are very evident, and if we fix those coding errors you are well on your way to a management position.”
Avoid giving feedback at emotionally charged times, such as when the employee is around other people or they have just gotten off the phone. Feedback is best given alone and in a calm, inviting manner.
When it is time for you to take the reins on a project; it is extremely important to avoid the role of the overbearing task master. It is equally important to let the other person develop ideas on their own. For instance, instead of assigning tasks to be completed as you see them, ask your coworkers which tasks they feel they are best suited for. Giving people options, instead of orders, is sure to keep your work relationships strong.
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