The only way I can get you to do anything is by giving you what you want.
I am sure you have at least heard of Dale Carnegie’s famous book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. He wrote the book in 1936 and it remains popular today. Its publication came just before we were called on to come together as a nation to put aside our differences and join World War II in defense of western civilization.
The world has changed since then. Once we greeted each other on the street, stopped to talk and agreed to meet later for face to face conversation. Now many people live plugged into their cell phones and other devices, shut off from their surroundings. It’s as though the real world doesn’t exist any more, only the virtual one.
Carnegie suggested listening to people and their needs as a way to connect for mutual benefit. He also said that the only way to get what you want from others is to give them what they want. That approach seems strange to us these days. To a large extent we seem locked in conflict with each other rather than working together toward mutual goals. Congress and many state legislatures are almost evenly split into polar opposite ways of thinking.
Those who elect them are just as evenly split. Those who don’t vote have either given up on the political process or have lost interest in it. We seem to have lost our national will. It seems a shame that the only thing which brings us together is war. Can we find a way to work together again? I think so. The challenge is finding a way to do it.
Here are seven steps you can take:
- Keep electronics in perspective– Reality does not consist of tweets, text messages and emails.
- Open your ears– Unplug from electronics and let in the sound of others’ voices.
- Open your mind– Realize that others may think differently from us but are just as concerned about their wellbeing.
- Find common ground– See how your needs fit with the needs of others.
- Try to cooperate rather than win– Find a way for both of you to win.
- Listen before you talk– Others will be more likely to hear you if they know you understand them.
- Don’t hold a grudge– The chip on your shoulder blocks communication.
You might find some or all of these approaches uncomfortable. They are not the way you are used to doing things. Why bother? Think of the number of people complaining about stress these days. In my opinion, one of the main reasons for this is isolation. Others travel the same path as you do but mostly in isolation. It doesn’t need to stay that way. You can wait for others to break the barrier and communicate for you. But why wait? Try taking the first step yourself.
Life Lab Lessons
- Keep your ears open and your mouth shut.
- Hear what is important to others.
- Tell them what you heard them say.
- Clarify any misunderstandings.
- See yourself as part of a team rather than an individual.