Talent is only a prerequisite for the upper echelon of any industry.
Those who have the best interpersonal and communication skills will always have an edge over their colleagues who don’t.
Dale Carnegie recognized this about a century ago and began teaching public speaking and personal success courses that became immensely popular. He and a team of researchers developed a curriculum based on lessons they derived from the lives of people like Thomas Edison and Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, along with psychology texts.
His most famous work, “How to Win Friends & Influence People,” which was published in 1936, is a collection of his core teachings and has sold over 15 million copies. It uplifted readers during the depths of the Great Depression, but its insights into human nature are as relevant today as they were then.
According to Carnegie, here are six habits of people who are so likable that others go out of their way to help them.
1. They are genuinely interested in others.
Carnegie writes that the way Theodore Roosevelt treated even the lowest-level White House employee helped explain his popularity with the American public. He cites the writings of journalist and Army officer Archie Butt, who observed Roosevelt when he came to visit his presidential successor, William Howard Taft. Taft was unavailable, but Roosevelt made sure to speak to every servant and ask them how they were doing.
“It was the only happy day we had in nearly two years,” the White House head usher Ike Hoover told Butt.
2. They smile.
Steel magnate Charles Schwab, who quickly rose from day laborer to an incredibly high paid executive under the industrialist Andrew Carnegie, claimed his smile was worth a million bucks.
“And he was probably understating the truth,” Carnegie writes. “For Schwab’s personality, his charm, his ability to make people like him, were almost wholly responsible for his extraordinary success; and one of the most delightful factors in his personality was his captivating smile.”
3. They remember the people they meet.
Carnegie had a chance to interview Jim Farley, chairman of the Democratic National Convention and postmaster general — as well as FDR’s first presidential campaign manager — about how he became successful.
Farley said that his ability to navigate politics was due to a habit he developed as a traveling salesman. He asked each prospective client their name and about their family, so that he had enough to link to a face the next time he encountered them. “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language,” Carnegie writes.
4. They encourage people to talk about themselves.
Most people loosen up in even tense situations if they start talking about what they know. Namely, themselves.
Carnegie writes that he once met an accomplished botanist at a dinner party and, being an amateur gardener himself, asked the man a stream of questions about his line of work. Hours of conversation later, it was time to leave. As the botanist left, he told Carnegie that he had been a “most interesting conversationalist.”
Carnegie barely said anything the entire time, but he listened with genuine interest. “That kind of listening is one of the highest compliments we can pay anyone,” he writes.
5. They are aware of others’ interests.
Another reason Teddy Roosevelt left such a favorable impression on those he met, Carnegie writes, is that he seemed to know an encyclopedia’s worth of information.
This impression was deliberate. According to Carnegie, whenever Roosevelt hosted someone at his house, he would stay up late the night before, “reading up on the subject in which he knew his guest was particularly interested.”
6. They make others feel important — in a genuine way.
Carnegie says that the philosopher William James expressed the “one all-important law of human conduct”: “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”
Show your appreciation of others, but don’t spread praise so thin that it’s meaningless.
By Richard Feloni