People who know me from close quarters would tell you that I’m not into reading books. However, once a while I do read and my preference is limited to self help and Cricket, everything else is a big NO NO :-)
Sometime in early 2002, I was reading Arindam Chaudhri’s ‘ Count your Chickens before they hatch ‘. The book had made few references to a popular book titled ‘ How to win friends and influence people ‘. I really loved those tit-bits, so much so that I bought the book.
I’m not sure how many of us have read this book but for me it is by far the most remarkable book I have ever read, simply because whatever written there is extremely practical, timeless and easy to pick up, it wouldn’t require a genius to follow those tips. Of course it is impossible to internalize all the tips & suggestions mentioned there. But, over years I have somewhat managed to apply select few with reasonable success. Here’s what I learnt.
1) Name: From the book I learnt that ‘Name‘ was people’s biggest ego, if you can remember one’s name and pronounce it right that in itself creates a positive impact on the other person. So, during my B-school I consciously tried to remember the name’s of everyone I shooked hands with, be it a student, clerk, hawker or faculty. I had everyone’s name in my memory, and trust me I’m not joking. With my classmates I went little deeper, I tried to dig in some more details like their childhood, family, birthday, likes and dislikes etc. By doing so I was able to pleasantly surprise many of my buddies and accquanitances on many a occasions.
2) Smile: Luckily, I was never the brooding type however, I wasn’t an ever smiling person as well. The book had very clearly articulated the importance of a genuine ’smile’. This again fell in place with some practice and conscious efforts to smile more often. Believe me, a genuine smile will win you more friends than any other random act of brilliance. Remember to smile, it is free, totally free doesn’t cost a paise yet returns are humongous.
3) Listen: Thanks to my fathers commanding demeanor, I paid rapt attention to whatever he said which meant by accident or design I grew up into a active listener, the book only reaffirmed my faith in the art of listening. This is a very tough task because many a times during conversations we get into topics which others might be extremely passionate about but of little or no relevance to us, naturally it takes lot of effort to cultivate decent listening skills. It’s my firm belief that a good listener will definitely do better in any relationship than a regular person.
4) Appreciation: People are hungry for appreciation, unfortunately it is in serious short supply, timely appreciation can be great motivator. The GREATEST learning from the book for me was the ‘ Power of Appreciation ‘. Like most Indians by default I’m cynical and sarcastic ( something I would love to change but guess time isn’t right for this ) so in the beginning, to masquerade this grand weakness ‘Appreciation’ was a perfect foil but with time I would like to believe it became more and more earnest. With time I have moved away from cliched one liners to quirkier ways to appreciate , for example: Instead of ‘you look beautiful in this dress’ I tend to say ‘ you just made this dress look awesome ‘ or ‘ I never thought you could look better than yesterday ‘.
‘ How to win friends and Influence People ‘ left a lasting impression on my mind, time and again I flip through this masterpiece, brings great joy. It’s one book I would recommend people to FOLLOW, reading alone would do no justice to this piece of beauty.