Reading How to Win Friends and Influence People was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that has had a profound impact on my life and interactions with others. While I thought I was a good friend who knew how to deal with people, this book exposed some flaws in my character that made me realize I needed to improve. As I read and studied, I realized that instead of criticizing or condemning others, I should focus on appreciating them. Additionally, another principle that has helped me much is the understanding that the best way to win an argument is to avoid it and lastly it is a great virtue to be a good listener and to allow others to express themselves.
When interacting with friends and people, Carnegie suggests that people should aim at not complaining or condemning or criticizing. The reason behind this persuasion is that human beings are not only logical but also emotional and thus what they hear affect them emotionally. Understanding that dealing with people requires deliberate efforts has made me take my interactions seriously and avoid using careless words. People will always remember not only I tell them but also what that made them feel. Additionally, it was a shocker to learn that condemning people and magnifying their faults does not yield much but leads them to a place of defensiveness. Thus, I endeavor to look at matters objectively with a broader scope. For instance, we were to have a meeting with a friend at 2 pm on Saturday. However, my friend arrived thirty minutes late, and I was tempted to complain and condemn him for being late. Remembering this concept helped me have a different approach on the matter. When he arrived, I appreciated him for coming and told him I was glad he made to our meeting. In response, he was sorry for keeping me waiting but promised to do better next time. We both benefitted from this approach since our meeting was fruitful and we enjoyed each other’s company. By understanding and appreciating him, he saw his mistakes and suggested to make changes. I am persuaded that if I complained it would have affected our meeting and not yielded much help. The knowledge that individuals are motivated by pride and ego, feeding that ego has gone a long way in building stronger relationships. In applying this concept, I am also happier without the unnecessary emotional baggage that emanates from poor social interactions.
Secondly, as a young man who loves debate naturally, I have learned and embraced the concept that the best way to win an argument is to avoid it. I must admit that that principle did not sound right at first and I had to reread that part to understand and apply it in my interactions. The claim I had was that just letting go an argument would present me as weak and unable to defend my stand accordingly. However, Carnegie’s book proved me otherwise since arguing even when we are right makes us feel superior and justify ourselves resulting in the other person feeling inferior, wrong and would not like us. That beats the goals of establishing relationships and having people like us. Since engaging in an argument will result in a loss anyway, I have no reason in participating in one. So what I have embraced in different ways of making the other person feel important when they bring an argument and wisely avoid it and bring it to an end. For example, when a person is convinced that a particular way is the best approach and I have a contrary opinion, and they ask of my take, I simply avoid offering mine since it will breed controversy. Additionally, I appreciate them for suggesting another way of considering a matter and promise them to have a look at it. In so doing, they feel valued, appreciated and acknowledged thus affirming the relationship. Amazingly, I am also learning to keep off my first intuitive reaction in the wake of an argument that is to be defensive and take a firm stand. That has helped me gain friends even within my class circle. For example, recently during a group assignment, every person was supposed to give an opinion on a matter. Some students were quick to give their answers and defend their stands. Some, pinned down other people’s view. I chose to be the last one, and when my chance came, instead of disregarding the opinions I did not believe in, I appreciated all that had contributed. I also, said that all people are entitled to their views, and further study would make us understand their worldview. Such was received with much appreciated and all of us felt the need to allow others be who they want. I felt incredible and was glad I had interacted with this book. I am striving to apply the concepts in my daily life and inculcate them as part of my character.
Thirdly, another outstanding concept from the book was understanding that good listening skills are helpful in dealing with people even the short-tempered and critics. This principle stood out for me since I am one person who loves people who go straight to their point without using so much time to explain a concept. However, knowing that people are not the same and that others find pleasure in sharing their in-depth concerns and issues, I have embraced the need to listen to others. It is not easy sometimes just to pay attention, and I have to avoid interrupting others to present my line of thought consciously. In fact, I was shocked to know that being a good listener would make a good conversationalist as opposed to always talking but depending on the context. I appreciate that people have a need to be heard and when that happens they feel valued and valuable even without a word. Nowadays, I endeavor to listen to a person and allow them to share and I have attested remarkable results in my interactions. Sometimes in school, a fellow student seemed to withdraw from other, and I got interested, approached him, and we had a chat. We planned to have another meeting where time was not limited. During the meeting, he opened up to me about his struggles and challenges that were making him not perform well. Eventually, we drew a plan, and he is picking up again. In offering him time and allowing him to speak, we are both doing better.
In summary, I would say reading Dale Carnegie’s book has helped me get new friends outside my usual circles. It has impacted by already existing friendships by making them firmer and stronger. I am more conscious of myself and others such that I feel great when I make others feel valued and appreciated. I have many friends, and my interactions are reliable, and I find myself in few conflicts as I avoid arguments.
Carnegie, Dale. How to win friends and influence people. Simon and Schuster, 2010.