How to Make People Like You

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how to win friendsI found myself wondering, “Is this guy ever going to come up for air?”

I was in a social situation where I didn’t know many people.  We were sitting at round tables of 8.  So, I introduced myself to the man sitting next to me.  I then asked him a couple of questions.

And he was off…

He was a very accomplished individual, which I found out early in our “conversation”.  I say, “conversation”, but what I really mean is his monologue.  He just started talking…and talking…and talking…

At first I asked a couple of questions in response to his initial conversational offerings.  However, it began to dawn on me, in the midst of his ramblings, that he was not very interested in asking me questions.  So, I quit asking questions and began to toss in some conversational contributions when, on the odd occasion, he paused to breathe.

I thought, “Well, if he’s not going to ask me questions at least I can throw in some complementary commentary or analogous anecdotes.”

He was certainly knowledgeable about the content of his communication.  He was intelligent.  He was confident.  He was engaging.  He was enthusiastic.  He was successful.  He was friendly.

Was he likeable?  Perhaps, but I found myself wanting to avoid him so as not to get caught in another passionate monologue.  At the conclusion of our interaction he very enthusiastically thanked me for such a wonderful conversation – I bit my tongue.

I later on chatted with my wife about what seems to be the lost art of conversation.  Many people seem to have forgotten how to engage in good conversation – the cornerstone of which is asking good questions.

It’s not rocket science: ask good questions, uncover an area of interest in others, listen, and show genuine interest in them.

It’s surprising how often people can fall into 2 categories of communicators:  The monologuer and the responder.

The monologuer I have just explained.  The responder is someone who is quite content for you to ask all the questions, while they simply respond to your queries.  They show no degree of interest in you, but are very interested in your interest in them.

Years ago I read Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”.  This book is a seminal work about personal and professional development.  It’s a must read for anyone who is a leader – for anyone who is working and interacting with people.  Which is, or course, all of us.

In one section of the book he talks about how to make people like you.  I don’t know about you, but I want people to like me.  I want people to have a positive disposition toward me.  Not because I need to be liked, but simply because it sure feels better when people like you.  And, when people like you, you work better together.

As a leader, our goal is not to get people to like us.  However, leadership is a lot easier and a lot more fun when the people we lead actually like us.

So, what did Dale Carnegie say we need to do to get people to like us?  Well, he said 6 things:

  1. Show genuine interest in other people.
  2. Smile
  3. Use a person’s name
  4. Be a good listener – encourage people to talk about themselves
  5. Talk in terms of their interests
  6. Sincerely make the other person feel important

Simple, but not easy.  The first step is to become less self-centered, which can be very difficult, particularly in this age of social media narcissism.

So, what about you?  Are you a monologuer?  Are you are responder?  Or, are you an others-centered communicator who people like to be around because you are genuinely interested in them?

Leaders must become adept at winning people’s hearts: to get those they lead to like them.  Not because we need to be liked, or because we want to manipulate others.  Simply because good leadership is being others-centered.  And, when we live and lead that way people like us.

The goal is not to get people to like us.  However, it is the natural outcome of being an others-centered leader.

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