I recently read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, and I found it to be very insightful. Despite it’s title, the book is more a lesson in empathy and understanding human nature rather than trying to manipulate people to your needs.
A lesson that stuck out to me was the idea that we should never criticise others.
Think about all of the times that you have been criticised. Did you take on board the criticism with grace, or did you react defensively? All of us have probably had instances in the past where we were criticised and completely dismissed the other person’s opinion.
The lesson I’ve learnt from this book is that we should expect people to react poorly to criticism. Therefore, if we want to change someone’s opinion we should never criticise them, and instead think of the best way to approach things from their perspective.
Recently, I’ve been trying to bite my tongue when I find something 'wrong'. I try to understand the other person's viewpoint as best as I can, with no intention of proving them wrong. I ask myself: Where are they coming from? What might they see that I do not? How might they be correct?
Once I understand someone else’s viewpoint, it’s much easier to sway them to my point of view. Rather than antagonising them with criticism, I can approach the problem alongside them and find a mutually beneficial solution.
This lesson is a simple one, but one that I find very powerful. I’ve been getting into fewer arguments and understanding the people around me more deeply. I'd highly recommend giving How to Win Friends and Influence People a read!
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