Dale Carnegie’s Top 4 Tips for Making Friends

Dale Carnegie is the man to listen to when wanting to learn to make friends. I don’t know why schools don’t teach his principles; we’d all be a lot better off if they did. In his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie outlined several principles for people to follow if they want to make more friends. Here are 4 of his timeless tips.

1. Smile

toddler smiles with happinessAs I walked through my day today — meetings with clients and collaborators, time at the library, a stop at the store, another stop for fuel — I paid attention to how many people were smiling. Sadly, though I ran into over 20 people, only 3 were smiling when I saw them. Seeing those three smiles, though, made me smile, too. And when I smiled at the others, most of them smiled, too.

We like smiles. We see so many unsmiling faces throughout the day that seeing someone smile makes us happy, too. We notice it.

Let people know you’re glad to see them. Smile.

2. Give honest, sincere appreciation

When I was a receptionist, my supervisor’s boss asked me to find someone who could qualitatively code some data for her. It’s something I knew how to do, and it was more interesting than my normal duties, so I coded the data. I didn’t hear anything more about it. Several weeks later my supervisor mentioned that her boss was “very happy, really impressed” with “some project” I’d worked on for her. While it was nice to hear that I’d been praised to my supervisor, it would have felt even better if she’d actually let me know that she was happy with my work.

I don’t know why, but a lot of folks are reluctant to give praise, unless it’s for something huge. Yes, it can be overdone (I had a boss who praised me for being able to use the electric pencil sharpener), but when someone does something you truly appreciate, let them know.

3. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain

woman being yelled atI still remember sitting at my desk in kindergarten. We were practicing the alphabet and I’d made the amazing discovery that I could turn my page upside down when I got to the capital M and write a capital W, and no one would be able to tell the difference! So when I got to W, I turned my paper and wrote M. My teacher saw me and criticized me in front of the entire class. I was doing it wrong. I needed to tow the line. I went from being proud and excited about my discovery to horribly embarrassed and wanting to shrink under my desk and disappear. I’d thought I’d found something really great, and I’d just been condemned for it.

This is a hard principle for a lot of people. I’ve known people who seem to know no way to interact except through complaints. These aren’t necessarily complaints about the person they’re talking to, but, rather, complaints in general. “The line at the store was too long.” “That movie was stupid.” “I hate this song.” “This chicken is dry.” etc., etc., etc. Rather than feeling energized around these people, most of us feel our energy drain away. And we feel even worse if they are criticizing something we’ve done or are condemning our actions. Rather than spend your time and energy complaining, try to recognize that, in the big scheme of things, what you want to complain about, or criticize or condemn, probably doesn’t really matter. Let it go.

4. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language

Have you ever been in a situation where you didn’t know someone’s name, but didn’t want to embarrass yourself by asking? And then more time goes by and you still don’t know it, and you’ll be even more embarrassed if you ask? And so on. From the get-go, make a point to remember people’s names. If you miss one or forget one, ask for it. And if you’re really too embarrassed, ask someone else. But make sure you use people’s names when you talk to them. As cliche as it is, we do like to hear our names, and knowing that other people know them makes us feel important.

One thought on “Dale Carnegie’s Top 4 Tips for Making Friends

  1. I started the “smiling thing” when I began working at the library. You greet people with a smile over and over all through your workday. It has become a habit and I smile at complete strangers at the grocery store and anywhere else I may be. The reward: seeing a person pause for that split second and then respond with a smile of his or her own. It doesn’t always happen, but when it does it is special. Smiling is contagious!

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