How to Make Friends & Influence People

By: George Verdolaga Building Relationships 6 Comments Oct 17, 2011

A lot of people have said that Vancouver is a cliquey little town, which can be true depending on certain situations. But for as long as you expect people to come up to you and be all interested to get to know all about you, then any town in the world is going to be cliquey. Most people won’t ever be that friendly, or be interested in a total stranger like you as they’re interested mostly in themselves. It’s nothing personal. It’s just how most people are.

Keeping this in mind, I suggest that you do the least expected thing during a casual or business situation, which is to ask people questions about themselves, being careful that you’re doing 70% of the listening and 30% of the talking.

You won’t ever run out of “conversation” if you always do this and the most surprising thing of all is that people will find you “interesting” even if all you did was open your mouth for a minute or two to ask questions and allow people to unload their troubles and concerns to you. Many people are recognition- and attention- starved and will welcome a sympathetic ear. If you’re open to volunteering as a sounding board, then you’re more likely to be popular wherever you go.

Check out Dale Carnegie’s classic “How to Win Friends & Influence People” for more insights on this topic.


6 Responses to “How to Make Friends & Influence People”

  1. Jesse says:

    Good post; very true!
    We judge other sbased on action and judge ourselves based on intention.

    The means to be fascinating to others is to take a sincere interest in them. This simple practice is also an excellent way of judging character. When someone returns the sincere interest, they generally understand the values of connecting.

  2. Alice says:

    The dynamics of a conversation depends on the existence of a listener and a speaker. The roles are suppose to switch throughout a conversation but at times, this courtesy switch may not occur and I’m sad to say, in fair Vancouver, there does tend to be more speakers than listeners.

    What saves us is usually a gracious host or hostess of a conversation. S/He follows the suggestions you’ve posted and even extends themselves further to use the few moments of pause to open the floor for another speaker among the group rather than take it for themselves. A simple comment such as, “That’s quite the story Tom, so Susan, what are your thoughts on Tom’s story?” or “What a relieve you survived the work day Tom! Funny thing, Susan was telling me that she was dealing with something similar at work, isn’t that right Susan?”, would work to help speakers and listeners switch roles.

  3. George Verdolaga says:

    Thanks for sharing, Alice. You’re right in that there seems to be a ton more speakers than listeners out there in Vancouver. It’s as if people are so attention-starved in this city that they can’t wait to get an audience to hear out their thoughts and concerns. Having said that, there still are a few fairly sensitive and attuned people who understand the give-and-take nature of conversations. They’re not as easy to find though, as there’s less skilled “moderators” out there who are willing to switch from speaker to listener and allow others who are part of the conversation “circle” to join in and contribute their two cents.

  4. George Verdolaga says:

    You’re absolutely right about this, Jesse. It take me less than a minute for me to see whether someone is a giver or a taker. And there seems to be an overabundance of takers in the world, or people who simply don’t understand the natural dynamic of conversations, which is a give-and-take exchange of words and thoughts. And as for people who are sincerely interested in other people, there’s not many of those “fascinating” types out there, either. I wish there were, though… I also agree with you that you can infer character based on people’s responses or level of interest in you.

  5. Alice #2 says:

    There are two issues here…. the statement that Vancouver is cliquey. That is a fact I must agree with.

    2: the sage old saying of ask more questions/listen than talk. I find it a bit simplistic. Because creating a true connection is the meeting of minds. Any robot can ask a ton of questions. Unless your opponent is a total narcissist, this type of behaviour will reflect closer to a police interregation and will make others feel uncomfortable. It also make the person asking the question come across quite invasive and not transparent themselves. One sided sharing conversation dies quite a quick death, from what I’ve seen and experienced.

    I find to be a great conversationalist, one must be an interesting person to start off with, who is open minded. Not totally opinionated and egotistic person would help a lot to creation of true dialogue and intellectual exchange, instead of heated arguments and unsettling accusations. Someone who understand the power and impact of one’s words, and influence, and to say what at what time in what locale in front of whom. There is an old Chinese saying that trouble comes from the mouth.

    I do agree with Alice #1 that a gracious host plays a pivotal role in creation of conversation and diversion of head on collisions. But beyond that, bringing like minded individuals together is a key job to liven the party. There is no point to put people who obviously won’t get along together. And also, never to invite too many egomaniacs together under one roof.

    Just my 2 cents

  6. George Verdolaga says:

    Excellent feedback Alice #2… being interesting, apart from interested really helps. That’s a rare combination, though… there’s more egomaniacs in the world than these types of rare birds, which is unfortunate. I think certain cultures in the world find the question-asking business kind of nosy, but not over here in good old North America. It’s actually seen as an invitation (the questions, I mean) to launch into their self-involved spiels. Most conversations that I’m in ends up being one-sided as my questions (or my level of interest) is rarely returned. That rare back and forth balance of talking and listening, I find, seems to be the exception.

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