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The Importance of Feeling Important

By AICC Staff

May 20, 2020

Who would have thought a self-help book published in 1936 would be on the Amazon bestseller list in 2020? The timeless classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie should be required reading for anyone with a pulse. Despite being written well before the presence of baby boomers, Generation X, and millennials, its anecdotes and quirky tips outlining how to navigate personal relations are profound and shockingly relevant. Throughout the book, Carnegie tactfully educates the reader on key principles to deal with people, creating a how-to guide for becoming likeable, agreeable, and a proficient motivator. This ageless wisdom proves that even though the characteristics of generations fundamentally change over time, there are universal, unchanged elements to our human nature: the desire to be important and the craving to be appreciated.

You don’t need to have a specific personality type or decades of experience to win someone’s affection. If great leaders, motivators, and salespeople share one common trait, it’s their astute awareness of how they interact with others. I want to share a few key principles from How to Win Friends and Influence People you can work into your daily routine to make those you encounter feel important and appreciated.

Remember Names and Dates

A simple and obvious way to build rapport is the ability to remember a name. A name is one of the few intangibles someone can truly claim ownership of. To hear your name is pleasant and encouraging. It’s why they announce each graduate’s name at commencement. Who is more likely to close the account they’ve been calling on, the salesperson who stubbornly insists to see the buyer or the one who greets the gatekeeper by name with a warm smile?

Birthdays and work anniversaries are also ripe opportunities to give your colleagues some unexpected recognition. Whether they’ve been employed for two years or 20, to take the time to appreciate loyalty will have a resounding effect on morale, not to mention decrease turnover.

Listen and Be Interested

“Good listener” should be a sought-after skill on résumés. People love to talk about themselves, and to listen intently is one of the highest forms of respect you can show. Those in any type of sales understand the importance of maintaining relationships. Providing a quality product or service at a competitive price will put you through the door, but the foundation of a relationship starts when you can show a genuine interest in the other person and their company. This applies outside of the workplace as well. If you want to be a great conversationalist, focus less on trying to be interesting and more on being interested. Lend an ear whenever the opportunity presents itself, and wrap your attention around the speaker. If you can frequently give your undivided attention, you will quickly make yourself an invaluable business partner and friend.

Be Hearty in Your Approbation and Lavish in Your Praise

This is perhaps the most recognizable theme of Carnegie’s book. The following quote illustrates the concept well: “Once I did bad, and that I heard ever. Twice I did good, but that I heard never.” Constant criticism is great if you need to stymie ambition and hurt someone’s pride. Of course, this wouldn’t make you many friends and certainly wouldn’t earn you much respect among your employees. Rather, sincerely praise any and every improvement. If a machine crew did a great job on a complicated order, let them know! Passing out gift cards or a gesture as simple as a handshake is a great way to show appreciation. A positive work attitude can be contagious, and nothing motivates more than having pride in one’s work.

The principles laid out in How to Win Friends and Influence People transcend generations, race, and sex. Whether you are a salesperson who struggles to move past the gatekeeper, are a millennial recently thrust into a leadership role, or want to reap the value from a networking event, if you incorporate some of the tried and true methods I presented, you will be on the path to winning friends and influencing people.

If you haven’t read Dale Carnegie’s book, I highly suggest you do—then pass it along to a friend for their next birthday.

blackTom Murphy is director of marketing at Reliable Container Inc. He can be reached at 630-543-6131 or