This is my first post where I'm replying to a request for some help. Someone asked me if I've read "How to Win Friends and Influence People", and if it was a good read. Unfortunately I haven't so I asked what he's looking for out of the book. He said something like "to improve how I deal with people and how to get the most out of everyday interactions". So he's going to read the book and let me know what he learns, in the meantime I thought I'd write up what I've learned so far from the books I have read.
Here we go...
First, How to improve how I deal with people
The book that always comes to mind first is 'Coping with Difficult People' by Robert Bramson. The key take away
"You train people how to treat you with every interaction"
It's not that complicated, people just do what works. Over their life they've tried different approaches and they stick with what seems to work. The phrase I came up with is "Jerks are Jerks because it works"
Bramson describes a number of types of people but from what I recall he says to treat people with respect and don't put up with disrespectful behaviour towards you. If you are giving a presentation and someone makes a snarky comment, just stop and you can ask them if it was intended as a 'dig'. He gave some other more specific tips I don't recall and haven't gone back to it because luckily I don't have to deal with too many difficult people. After reading this book I noticed the same message when I was watching the TV show 'The Dog Whisperer', you train dogs how to act with every interaction. If you let them act bad they act bad, if you don't, they don't. I was told it's not nice to compare people to dogs, but I don't mean it in a bad way, I just think it's a good example of a similar principle, and you can see it applied over and over again in nice half hour segments. Every time it's a dramatic unbelievable transformation, and all they did was to not let the dog get away with bad behaviour.
I've also read:
Just Listen by Mark Goulston
How to Talk So Kids Will Learn by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
What Great Parents Do by Erica Reischer
Pitch Perfect by Bill McGowan
Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff
The Game by Neil Strauss
The are all very similar, the first three discuss the importance of listening and repeating back what you heard in your own words. First off this is great because you'll actually hear what they are saying rather than just waiting for them to pause so you can talk. Second this shows them you're paying attention, shows you understand them, makes them feel like you are on their side and build rapport. This is especially important when you don't agree with someone, you show them you can see it from their point of view, but you still don't agree with them and you can tell them why more effectively. By doing this you're more likely to find common ground and come to a compromise quicker. It works with everyone from kids to adults, everyone wants to feel like they are being heard.
The second three are when you are trying to get someone's attention, overcome the barriers they put up to the unknown and convince them of something. The big takeaway is to recognize their defenses, and do things that don't set off any alarms. To get close to someone very important one author recommended trying to get close to one of their admins or gatekeepers as he called them. Have that person become your advocate. This also works by asking friends of friends for help, these people are called your 'weak ties'. Friends of friends are usually comfortable enough to help you get in touch with someone, and by going in that way you have a significant edge over people going in cold. From 'The Game' they were talking about social interactions, how to strike up a conversation with people you don't know. This was very similar, go over with a very specific question make it obvious you're not coming over for an indefinite amount of time. Most people are more than willing to answer a question. Another technique is to not try to get their attention but to try to get everyone's attention, then if you do give that person your attention they'll kind of feel like they've won rather than feeling unsure and defensive. This happens in business as well, people are people.
Many interactions can be difficult or frustrating. You may feel they are not treating you well. A good antidote for this is to realize it's probably not you they are unhappy with, they could be tired, hungry, mad about something else. If someone seems upset try to think 'what else could this mean?' or 'what could be the cause of this?' Or you could be the one that is mad at them. In these situations I like to remind myself that everyone is doing the best they can with the resources they've got. They aren't making bad decisions on purpose, so I try to figure out why they might have done what they did, and maybe even confirm I've got the story right in the first place. Often I don't have the whole story and what they did makes sense. Other times they didn't have the full story so what they did also makes sense.
In general try not to make assumptions, but if you find yourself compelled to, then try making wildly positive assumptions instead of wildly negative ones, they're just as likely to be true, and they'll have you entering a discussion from a much more positive perspective.
Now, How to make the most of an everyday scenario
How to Get Anyone to Do Anything by R. Philip Hanes
The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris
Philip Hanes from what I recall is one of the Hanes associated with the clothing line. A very successful businessman, and he shares some of his secrets in this book. His tips range from buttering people up to tricking people in specific postures which are more receptive to requests. I don't think he calls it buttering people up, but when he meets people he tries to get as much info about them as he can and he makes a file on them, birthday, names of family members, where they went to school, what they do, interests and hobbies etc. Then he tries to be a good friend, if he sees something that might interest one of his friends, he lets them know about it. He helps people network, if he wants to ask a favour he does something nice for one of his friends, something inline with their hobbies or interests, maybe helps them do something on their bucket list. I seem to recall a very detailed set of interview questions he uses, not for his friends but for potential employees. It was interesting and I might look it up if I need to hire someone, but the cleverest thing he mentioned was how to get someone in a receptive state of mind. We all know body language is real, and we all know people with crossed arms are being closed off, so he tries to do things to get people to uncross their arms. When he is pitching new ideas he makes sure he has it on a poster that the person needs to unfold and hold up with their arms wide open. I find this so smart, so easy. I don't know how effective it is but I know it's worth the cost of a big piece of paper to try it out.
These days electronic communication is a huge part of our lives. If possible I recommend calling people rather than emailing, but I know you're going to have to email people once in awhile, the best advice I've read on emails was in 'The 4 Hour Work Week'. The tips are very obvious once you hear them, but not everyone thinks about it. The basics people know, have a clear subject, and keep it as short as possible. The mistake people often make is to ask one question and wait for the reply before telling the person what to do. Tim suggests asking the question or making the request e.g. "Do you have X in stock?" and also say what you want them to do e.g. "If so I'd like to order 10..." AND even more importantly what you want if they don't e.g. "If not please put me next on the waiting list".
You can save a number of back and forth emails with this technique. Also try to format your email so the questions are obvious and up front rather than in the middle of a large paragraph. Give them a heads up in the intro,
I have two questions:
Please reply by ...
It's almost like you're writing a computer program with IF statements. When I'm writing emails and they are getting long I think back to my favourite fortune cookie quote "In every enterprise, consider the outcome". When I first read it I was thinking it had something to do with Star Trek because I've never heard anyone else use the term enterprise, and then I took a minute to think about what it meant. In everything you do know why you are doing it, so simple, so often overlooked. I find by doing this it'll help you figure out if it's worth doing and it'll help you better predict if the actions you're taking are going to get the results you want. When I notice an email getting long I think "what do I want to get across here", or "what do I want this person to do?" and then I try to see what information is totally useless towards that goal. I can usually take out more than half of what I wrote.
And now, How to get the most out of people
If you're in a leadership role keep in mind that people will often rise to a challenge, and often take on the role you give them. I recall a TED talk about student government and the adult running it said they kids took it very seriously as long as he did, and as long as the roles were treated with respect. More so than age the role the kids had determined their level of behaviour, they rose to the challenge as they say.
And in a leadership role or not, let people help you. Ask for help, many successful people like to be asked their opinions or advice, and are willing to help out here and there. It's a delicate balance between asking too much and not asking enough, but if you find people offering assistance take them up on it, don't hold back in order to prove you can do it on your own, no one can do everything on their own.
Beyond these tips, I really recommend my primer videoControl Your Money, Control Your Life. It covers why we do what we do not only as it relates to money, but all aspects of your life. Knowing the behind the scenes of why humans do what they do is not only helpful in your own goal setting, but also when dealing with other people. It can help you understand why they might have done something your don't agree with so you can find some common ground, or it can help you find a way to get through to someone one you are trying to collaborate with.
In all situations I find it helpful to be sincere, smile, try to see things from the other person's point of view, and to focus more on what you agree rather than what you don't agree on. And try to remember their name so you can use it, people seem to love it when other people remember their name. You might be saying you can't but trust me, you can. The next time you meet someone just make sure to try, try really hard. You know, ask them, listen, repeat it back to them, pause to look at their face, repeat it back to them when you part ways. Then tell me if it worked or not, if not I'll do a post on memory tricks.
Don't let the fear of rejection hold you back, acknowledge your requests as a little strange and that can soften the experience, even get people on your side. This is easier said than done, so here is a video to inspire you to try.