We’ve all read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People (or maybe not all of us), and we know that in order to gain friends, we have to show ourselves friendly. In the book, he offers techniques, tips and tools to do just that.
We also know that in order to lose friends, all we have to do is be unpleasant to them –show ourselves unfriendly. I mean true friends here – those who are there for WHO you are and not for WHAT you are. We talked about these kinds of friends in my last article: 3 Kinds of Friends.
We need friends in our lives. Alone, no one is able to achieve much. One person can only chase a thousand, while two will chase ten thousand! Imagine then what three, four or five can do.
In order to further our lives in all aspects, we need people around us. We need to be positively influenced by people, and in turn positively influence others. This is the only way we can personally grow and develop –by being rivers that take from the one and give to the other, and not reservoirs that only take and never give; remaining stagnant. That’s why the power of association is very important.
We need to surround ourselves with the right people. Sometimes, we have them in our lives already –the right people –as friends, but there are certain things that we may do; things that we have no idea are coming off as unpleasant to them. And these things eventually drive these precious friends away from our lives, leaving us wondering why “they dumped us”.
So, let’s point some of these things out; these unpleasant things that cause you to lose friends as well as the ability to influence them.
People do this all the time to friends they haven’t spoken to in a long time. When they get on the phone (no matter who called who), the first thing they say is “ah you just abandoned me, I never hear from you. You don’t keep in touch”. They immediately take the guilt of not keeping in touch off themselves and place it coyly on their friend.
What’s wrong with you keeping in touch if you don’t want to feel “abandoned” by your friend? Why not call them instead of waiting for that miraculous day when they’ll call you, only so you can heap the blame on them. These people keep doing it again and again until that friend already knows the first thing they’ll say once they pick up the phone and it becomes very annoying.
Any reasonable person will want to keep away from those who make them feel guilty, insensitive and incompetent and that’s why you’ll lose such friends –friends that reach out to you only for you to blame them for not reaching out earlier.
Committing the 3 Cs
One of the techniques Carnegie teaches in his book on how to win friends is for people not to commit the 3 Cs –Don’t Criticize, Condemn or Complain. He says “any fool can criticize, condemn and complain –and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving”.
Nobody likes to be around someone who nags. In fact, it is said that it feels better to sleep in the corner of the roof of a house than to be in the same room with a nagging wife. This is also true with friends who aren’t spouses. If you keep pointing out people’s errors rather than highlighting their strengths and achievements, you’ll soon drive them away.
I know of a woman who took a girl, abandoned by her parents, into her care. She clothed, fed, sheltered and educated this girl. But, on the flip side, she kept castigating the poor girl for not being “sharp”, for choosing the wrong boyfriends, for not being fashionable and trendy, for simply being who she was.
This girl grew up to resent her foster mother, disrespected her and left her home with a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. Of course the woman went about telling of how ungrateful this “wicked” girl was. “After all if she wasn’t wicked from birth, why would her parents abandon her?”
You see how people never learn their lesson? Even after the inevitable repercussion of constantly criticizing condemning and complaining, this woman was still blinded to her faults and still repelling people from her life.
Not only should we have healthy boundaries when dealing with friends and even family, we should also respect their boundaries and not be too invasive with them.
I once had a friend ask me if I was “still a virgin”. When I let him know that I felt uncomfortable with his line of questioning, he responded with “we are guys, tell me”. Some people just don’t get it! I don’t know if it is that they’re embarrassed for having embarrassed someone that they just carry on with their invasive questioning as a cover up, or they just simply have a huge blind spot when it comes to respecting people’s privacy and boundaries.
Being nosy around friends –even gossiping to them about someone else –makes them feel uncomfortable around you. If you ask invasive questions, they wonder what you need the information for, whom you’ll go ahead and let in on their secret, especially if you’re the gossiping type who always tells them other people’s secrets.
Respect people’s boundaries in order to keep them around as friends. Don’t go visiting them without calling first, don’t go showing up in their homes pretending to be just visiting meanwhile you have a packed bag ready for a sleepover. Quit asking them when they’ll get married; it’s really none of your business.
They say the hardest part about business is learning to mind your own. Mind your own business and respect people’s boundaries, and they will ironically open up to you and keep you close as friends!
The beauty of friendships is the ability to do things for one another, to help with each other’s burdens. Now, there are some friends who are very good at helping people, but very poor at receiving help from people.
You can’t have all the joy, that comes from giving, to yourself in a friendship. You offer your friend a ride, you pay for their groceries, you invite them to dinner, you help with some of their bills, and all those nice things. They accept all these from you and are very grateful.
Now when it comes to their turn to offer you a ride, pay for your groceries, have you over to dinner, pay some of your bills; you respond with an “it’s okay, I’m fine”. You refuse the favour. You might think you’re relieving them of a burden, but the fact is that they’re extending a hand of friendship to you by offering to help you just like you helped them, but you have denied them that opportunity to draw close to you as friends. They now see you as some benefactor who is too good to be helped. No one wants to constantly appear to be on the receiving end –it’s quite demeaning.
So, they tip-toe out of your life and you begin to think “how ungrateful they are, after all I’ve done for them!” Well, that’s the problem right there. It was ALL YOU, doing for them and robbing them of the opportunity to do for you. So they started to see you as thinking you’re better than them and they resented you for that.
A big way to influence people is by letting them help you with things in your life. That way, they feel closer to you and become more comfortable; enough to even let you change their minds on certain ideas they’ve held on to for years.
Friendship is based on reciprocity, and in order to win friends, keep them and influence them (positively by the way), we should treat them the way we want to be treated. And no one can tell me that they’ve always wanted to be guilt-tripped, criticized, condemned, nagged at, and rejected. So don’t do these things to people so that you don’t lose friends along with the ability to influence people.