Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Principles of Social Intelligence

I recommend everyone to read Dale Carnegie's old classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People.

It's amazing.

Granted, the book delineates very commonsensical principles to apply in social situations. But. That's an emphatic but. People don't use these fundamental principles in their daily lives. Why? Probably out of laziness. Or in other words, they understand the principles intellectually, but have not internalized them.

This is crucial.

Understanding and doing are totally different modi operandi. You can understand how to swing a tennis racket or spin on your head, but it's a whole 'nother story to be able to actually do them.

So with that caveat in mind, let's keep the following fundamental imperatives in mind and actually put them to use in our daily lives:

1. Don't criticize, condemn, or complain (or in a positive statement, "Be hearty in approbation and lavish in praise.")

2. Give honest and sincere appreciation

3. Arouse in the other person an eager want

Then comes six ways to make people like you:

1. Become genuinely interested in people
2. Smile
3. Remember that one's name is the sweetest and most important sound in any language
4. Be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves
5. Talk in terms of the other person's interest
6. Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely

The fourth imperative follows from the first. The fifth principle is KEY and neglected by so many people. Understanding and seeing the world through the point of view of another person is really, really, really crucial in influencing people.

Then the author goes on to describe twelve ways to winning people to your own way, but I think the most important of them are:

1. Avoid arguments, show respect for the other person's opinion, and never tell them they're wrong.
2. Let the other person do the talking
3. Let the other person feel the idea is theirs
4. Appeal to noble motives
5. Throw down a challenge
6. Start with questions the other person will answer yes to

As you can see, all of these are "common sense." But be careful. You might dismiss them as just that and not make any initiatives in internalizing them until you find yourself in a heated argument with your significant other and realize that you don't know jack.