PART 1: How They Do It
I was lucky enough to have started my career at a company where I had close contact with many successful, rich businessmen, some managing companies that generate millions of euros per year. As a journalist and, later, a biographer, I had recurrent contact with these people, in both their professional and their personal environments. Amongst the diversity of personalities and businesses they were managing, I started noticing a common characteristic in all of them.
They are good with people.
Why is this relevant? In his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, Dale Carnegie states that
“If there is anyone secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own”
But what does it mean, exactly, to be good with people?
Being Able to Read People
“People who can put themselves in the place of other people, who can understand the workings of their minds, need never worry about what the future has in store for them.” (Dale Carnegie)
This is the base on which everything else is built. If you are good at reading others, you can easily understand the reasons behind what they say and how they act; and you can direct your speech and actions to those exact points you have identified.
Being Able to Serve People
“The only way I can get you to do anything is by giving you what you want.” (Dale Carnegie)
People are not stupid. They don’t buy into what others say for no reason. They buy because there is something in store for them. I saw many of these businessmen identifying other people’s needs and actively trying to address them. It is not a coincidence that one of the basic rules for creating a successful business is to address people’s needs. You can do this not only at a general level (through a company, for example) but also on your individual interactions. As a result, people will immediately payback, or you will start building some credit with them, which can be of great value in the future.
Being Able to Establish Connections
“Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.” (Dale Carnegie)
The manager of the company where I started my career as a journalist was a guy who had zero knowledge about journalism. Yet, he ran a successful web-tv aimed at a community of about 1 million people and was able to have an income of multiple thousands of euros per month. His strategy was simple: the web-tv was just an excuse to mingle with these successful businessmen. Once he got into the circle, he established more and more connections. As he knew a vast amount of people and had a fair knowledge of what people were involved within professional terms, he was able to make himself useful to others by putting people in contact with each other. He wouldn’t charge a commission for the deals being done between these people he was connecting, but he got something out of it worth much more: people in his network owed him and went for him to generate more business.
Being Able to Convince People
“The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” (Dale Carnegie)
What I saw in all these successful people was that they all spoke in a way that convinced people. They were able to do this because they followed the points above, but also because they knew how to put it all together into a coherent, compelling speech.
They used techniques like looking people in the eye, repeating their interlocutor’s name, or practicing active listening. They all had what can be referred to as a “sales attitude” in their speech.
Naturally, some of us have more social personalities and can put these skills into practice with very little effort. But, for the most part, these skills can be trained. So, even if you feel shy and socially awkward, there is still a way to become a people’s person. Move on to the next part to find out how you can do it.
PART 2: How You Can Do It Too
A 2012 study from Emory University concluded that people who practice meditation on a regular basis improve their “empathic accuracy” and show increased activity in specific parts of the brain associated with empathy.
Based on personal experience, I can say that, after a week-long yoga and meditation retreat, I could understand people and situations better than ever before. Meditation helps developing focus and awareness, and these are crucial to developing interpersonal skills.
Practice Active Listening
Especially if you start meditating, you will catch yourself doing precisely the opposite of active listening in conversational situations. You will notice that your mind wanders while talking to others, and you will realize that truly listening is actually harder than it might sound.
There are a few techniques you can apply to develop your active listening skills. I suggest you watch this Ted Talk from Julian Treasure.
Pay Attention to Body Language
Albert Mehrabian, a researcher of body language, concluded that communication is 7% verbal, 38% vocal, and 55% nonverbal.
This makes it obvious that if you want to influence people with what you say you should pay close attention to all the ways in which your body speaks.
But not only is it important to pay attention to your own body language, but it is also essential to be able to read other people’s. If you miss this, you miss half of the conversation.
Think About How You Can Serve People
As stated above, successful people always keep in mind how they can serve others. If you want to do the same, regularly spend time thinking about the people around you, their goals, and what you can do to help them succeed. By doing this simple exercise, you will be helping yourself too.
Think about the topic right above this one. If you move in a relatively small circle of people, the opportunities to serve and engage will be limited. But if you know a lot of different people, those opportunities grow exponentially. And not only is it important to know many people, as it is to know people from different areas and walks of life.
The more people you engage with, the broader your horizons will get, and the better equipped you will be to connect all the dots.
This article is for informational purposes only, it should not be considered Financial or Legal Advice. Not all information will be accurate. Consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.