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Tag: dale carnegie

In the well

Many conversations today go like this.

“Hey man. All well?”
“Yes, all well. And you, all well?”
“Yes, yes, all well here too.”

Could there be a more banal way to communicate? I’m probably the guilty-est of such conversations. Even just calling these ‘conversations’ itself is doing the word a disservice. 🙂

As anyone who has mastered the art of forging deep connections will tell you, the trick lies entirely in asking the right questions, and then sitting back and listening. That’s what makes an outstanding conversationalist. The ability to ask and listen, and not the ability to speak. Counterintuitive, isn’t it?

That is indeed the true power of questions. As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Don’t try to be interesting, try to be interested instead.”

Can we perhaps substitute “All well?” with: “How are you?”, “Where are you from?” (nice and open ended!), “What are you working on these days” (everyone is working on something), “What’s changing in your life?”, or “What are you learning these days?”. So many options!

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Pipe dream

Here are some wonderful takeaways from a recent youth satsang session I had the good fortune and pleasure of attending. The topic of discussion was Dale Carnegie’s excellent book How to Win Friends & Influence People:

  1. You can disagree in specific instances, but no need to become a disagreeable person.
  2. If your child is not eating, or making a fuss, don’t cajole him. Instead make him want to come to the table. Give him a “special seat”.
  3. Begin with the other person in mind. Real-life example that was shared: If the tenants want the landlord to take care of a major plumbing problem, don’t just begin by complaining to the landlord. The way that worked was to have the landlord and his wife over for a nice homecooked meal, a lot of genuine compliments about the house included, and a mention of the plumbing issue tossed in at the end. Needless to say, the problem was fixed – quickly and for free.
  4. It is possible to change the other person’s behaviour, by changing one’s own behaviour towards them first.
  5. Integrated thinking – build the patience to hold and analyse two conflicting ideas in your head at the same time. If this can be done, the solution is often a 3rd way, which is even better than the first two ideas.

    Quite good no?

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Equations

Some simple equations for life:

  1. Faith > Fear —> Success;
  2. Comfort zone = Failure zone;
  3. Success = giving back to society; Money, status etc. == only by-products;
  4. Starting the day well = day well;
  5. Changing yourself = changing world;
  6. Near birth and near death = don’t care about anyone; At all other times = try to impress everyone. Why?
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Cover page

When we discuss Dale Carnegie’s (DC) amazing book How to Win Friends & Influence People in satsang, participants often ask certain types of questions. Maybe we can call these questions as extremities. Here are some examples:

  1. DC says we need to listen to the other person. But what if the other person keeps on talking and I don’t get to talk at all?
  2. DC says think from the other person’s point of view. But what if the other person doesn’t think from mine?
  3. DC says we need to smile as often as possible. But others aren’t smiling.
  4. DC says develop a genuine interest in the other person. But when do I then get to talk about my interests?

These are all valid concerns. However, our objective must be clearly understood. As the title on the book’s cover page states, this book is useful if you want to win the other person over, befriend them and / or influence them.

If this is the clear focus and objective, then we need to think: Does it matter whether I get to talk or not, or that the other person doesn’t smile or not, or that they don’t see the world from my point of view? Ideally, no!

This is DC’s decades and countless experiences’ worth of rare wisdom neatly encapsulated into a 200 page book. The real question we must be asking ourselves is – how better can I apply the learnings of this magical book to my life?

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C for critical – part 3

One of the most common questions asked of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People book is on criticism.

If I’m a boss, and my employee does something wrong, then why should I not criticise him/her? If my child son or daughter does something wrong, why should I not criticize / discipline them?

As we saw yesterday, criticism, hate and anger are only emotions, lead to distress, and often have the opposite outcome of what was intended.

So was Dale Carnegie wrong? Not at all.

He never said don’t ‘correct’ someone if you have to. He only said don’t ‘criticize’ someone.

Both words start with ‘c’, but have entirely different implications. If a manager shouts at his/her employee, of course the employee is going to switch-off mentally. However if the manager sits the employee down, tells him/her that they are doing well, but to rise in this organization, they need to ‘correct’ a few things, then this form of feedback is much more palatable!

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Critiques

Author Dale Carnegie of the bestseller How to Win Friends and Influence People says “Criticize in private, but praise in public.” We saw this nearly a year ago here.

It might seem like obvious advice, but do not be fooled by its simplicity. Just recently, I was part of a call, which had one senior person pulling up several others for something not done by them. The big boss of many of those being picked on was also present on the call.

To be sure, the person pointing the finger was by no means wrong – he had his facts straight – the accused had been tardy, they had not done their work well, they had not informed their superiors about gaps in the information and so on.

But did any of that matter? Not one bit. The call quickly morphed into a verbal brawl, with people supporting themselves, and proving why they were right and then heaping accusations back and forth. Could have just had some nice popcorn on the side and …

But really, it is so hard to put this advice into practise I suppose. It might seem like it takes longer to have 1-on-1 calls with five people rather than just lambaste 5 people on one call. But the negative effects of that one badly organized call can be far worse, as was the case. Preferably, never criticize at all, but if it must be done, then it can be done with empathy, in private, with examples from one’s own life as well, and also leading by example. That would be true leadership.

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To listen or to speak?

Both Dale Carnegie and my Guru cannot overemphasize the importance of listening as a skill. We are all accustomed to talking non-stop especially in social situations. We love to hear the sound of our own voices. And onc they topic shifts to anything even remotely of self-interest, then the words just don’t stop rolling out!

But listening allows us to win over other people, because if everyone likes to talk, then someone must be there to listen? Listening also builds patience, maturity, concentration and empathy over time.

There is one scenario I’ve seen though, where people love to listen and completely shy away from speaking. This is on the stage. Any formal stage, be it big or small – we often hate the spotlight and the associated stage fright aka butterflies.

However, at least from a satsang perspective, there is no better place to speak – no not after the satsang, but as the main speaker! And the reason is very unique here. If we just listen to satsangs, we will get knowledge. But it may not convert to wisdom or action. In order to make that conversion, speaking is a wonderful tool. When we listen to others speak, we may feel like we are understanding concepts. But when we laboriously sit and prepare for a speech, read up copious information to demystify our scriptures, underline the various important points, search for interesting anecdotes and stories, attempt to figure out the ‘real meaning’ and ‘practical meaning’ and ‘deep meaning’, we will encounter on these abstruse topics some epiphanies that will never leave us for life.

Speak we must, at every satsang opportunity. But prepare we must, too, so that our speaking is easy listening for everyone.

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The one formula for success – part 3

Here’s an example of how to put yourself in someone else’s shoes – from a conversation between my Guru and I recently.

I had kept a vow for donating some money to Tirupati (a large and famous temple in south India) if some specific important event took place in my life. Like Guruji says, it is very important for everyone to set lofty goals, work towards them, pray for them, and if those goals are achieved, then unabashedly do something in return.

When said event did work out (miraculously!), it was time to keep up my end of the bargain. But I had a conflicting thought. Should I donate to Tirupati? Or should I donate to the cause of my Guru? So I asked my Guru. “If it’s just money, can I not give to your cause Guruji? Why Tirupati? Isn’t God and his money fungible?”

To which he had a wonderful answer, and such an answer is only possible if he put himself in my shoes. Because from his point of view, he has already realized Brahman and moksha and liberation, and to him these material differences do not matter!

But to me as one who is faaaaaaar away from such realized states, he said simply, “What if something bad happens tomorrow? Then it is possible I might connect the dots? That it is because I did not donate to Tirupati as planned but instead gave the money off to another cause, that there was a hole left to be plugged at Tirupati?” Instead my Guru told me to go and happily give to Tirupati, and then also pray to the Lord there to give me more money so that I can donate to the other causes with even more fervour. Win-win?

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The one formula for success – part 2

We saw yesterday how Dale Carnegie says there’s only one thing we need to do to be successful, whether in personal relationships or in a professional setting. And this is to put ourselves in other people’s shoes.

Sounds easy. Yes, but very hard to apply, isn’t it? What prevents us from viewing things from another’s perspective?

Adi Shankara in his commentary Vivekachoodamani, says that there is one and only one hurdle. The ego.

How to get rid of this ego? He says that there are 2 pillars to this ego.
1. Selfish desire
2. Selfish action

1 causes 2. and 2 reinforces 1. And the cycle repeats ad infinitum.

How to break out of this? By performing actions for others. Seva. Service. That’s the only way Adi Shankara says. The more we think for (not about) others and work for others, the less time we have to worry about ourselves, and the lesser the ego becomes, automatically.

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The one formula for success

In his amazing book How to Win Friends and Influence People, author Dale Carnegie (DC) shares some amazing lessons on how to … well exactly what the book titles says!

It’s not a very large book, but it is divided into 6 parts, and a total of 37 chapters, each addressing one specific focus area for introspection, improvement and application.

Out of all these, DC himself says in part 4 chapter 8, that if there is only one thing that we take away from the entire book, then it is this one formula. Here is that paragraph reproduced verbatim.

If, as a result of reading this book, you get only one thing - an increased tendency to think always in terms of the other person's point of view, and see things from that person's angle as well as your own - if you get only that one thing from this book, it may easily prove to be one of the stepping stones of your career.

Just imagine that. We think success is all about us, our hard work and meeting our targets and what not. Sure these are important, but there are millions of people doing all these things already – but they rarely rise to the top. Because they are too often focused only on themselves. DC has the solution. We only need to implement.

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Free size

Here’s the thing about self-help and spirituality. One size rarely fits all. The goal is the same – to attain moksha or liberation. But the paths are many. Krishna tells Arjuna about karma yoga, bhakti yoga and jnana yoga in the Gita. Even within these, the actual methods to be followed could be different. One might see great success following a 15-minute meditation plan a day. Others might struggle despite an hour of chanting.

In Dale Carnegie’s (DC) How to Win Friends and Influence People, there is a superb statement. The secret he says, is to interest people and build in them a genuine want, if you need them to do something for you. He gives a couple of solid examples too – such as how to get an irate tenant to pay his full rent rather than leave midway, and how a poor newspaper owner got a celebrity to write a star column on his paper.

But as he himself says, a common pushback would be, “Hey these examples are fine, but do these principles work for the tough monsters I have to face in my daily life?”

Here is DC’s amazing response. “You may be right. Nothing will work in all cases. And nothing will work with all people. If you are satisfied with the results you are now getting, then why change? If you are not satisfied, then why not experiment?”

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How to build your network?

Where is the center of the universe? Has the center been discovered? Is it possible to see the center through the Hubble telescope?

No, no, wrong center! The real center of the universe is we ourselves. Or rather, I, me, myself. We all live and function as though the universe and the whole world revolves around us. But we know this, right? What can we do about it, so that it benefits us?

The author of the book How to Win Friends & Influence People, Dale Carnegie (DC), has this to say. “People don’t care about me or you, but they care only about themselves.”

We are all looking to make friends, relationships, business partners, acquaintances, long lasting connections – you name it. But we struggle to build our networks. Why? Because we begin our efforts by focusing on ourselves. We want to let the world know who we are, what we like, what we dislike, what our talents are, what our hobbies are and in the process, we hope that the other person will recognise us for the great individuals we are, and allow us an entry into their league of awesome buddies.

All good, except that this is an effort that is being applied in reverse! As DC says, “You can make more friends in 2 months by becoming genuinely interested in other people, than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

If we want to make friends, we must do things for others – giving our energy, our time, our selflessness and our thoughtfulness. Here are a few things that can help!

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