“You do this and you’ll be welcome anywhere,” says Dale Carnegie in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People. “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
He shares words from famous Viennese psychologist Alfred Adler, “It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others. It is from among such individuals that all human failures spring.”
Carnegie tells many stories to reiterate this thought.
“C.M. Knaphle of Philadelphia had tried for years to sell fuel to a large chain store organization. But the chain store company continued to purchase its fuel from an out – of – town dealer and hail it right past the door of Knaphle’s office. Knaphle made a speech one night (in a class), pouring out his hot wrath upon chain stores, branding them as a curse to the nation.
“And still he wondered why he couldn’t sell them.
“I suggested that he try different tactics. To put it briefly, this is what happened. We staged a debate between members of the course on whether the spread of the chain store is doing the country more harm than good.
“Knaphle, at my suggestion, took the negative side; he agreed to defend the chain stores, and then went straight to an executive of the chain store organization that he despised and said, ‘I am not here to try to sell fuel. I have come to ask you to do me a favor.’ He then told about his debate and said, ‘I have come to you for help because I can’t think of anyone else who would be more capable of giving me the fact I want. I’m anxious to win this debate, and I’ll deeply appreciate whatever help you can give me.’
“Here is the rest of the store in Knaphle’s own words: ‘I had asked this man for precisely one minute of his time. It was with that understanding that he consented to see me. After I had stated my case, he motioned me to a chair and talked to me for exactly one hour and 47 minutes. He called in another executive who had written a book on chain stores. He wrote to the National Chain Store Association and secured for me a copy of a debate on the subject.
“’He feels that the chain store is rendering a real service to humanity. He is proud of what he is doing for hundreds of communities. His eyes fairly glowed as he talked, and I must confess that he opened my eyes to things I had never even dreamed of. He changed my whole mental attitude.
“’As I was leaving, he walked with me to the door, put his arm around my shoulder, wished me well in my debate, and asked me to stop in and see him again and let him know how I made out. The last words he said to me were, ‘Please see me again later in the spring. I should like to plan an order with you for fuel.’
“’To me that was almost a miracle. Here he was offering to buy fuel without my even suggesting it. I had made more headway in two hours by becoming genuinely interested in him and his problems than I could have made in ten years trying to get him interested in me and my product.’
“A show of interest, as with every other principle of human relations, must be sincere. It must pay off not only for the person showing the interest, but for the person receiving the attention. It is a two – way street. Both parties benefit.”
So, there you go. Quit talking about yourself and your interests and listen to others. Words I really need to heed myself!