For decades, How to Win Friends and Influence People has been considered a bible for interpersonal communication skills. No question, there is an incredible amount of value in Mr. Carnegie’s words of wisdom. Here’s the thing though (as I digress back to the beginning of this paragraph)- the book is literally decades old. First published in 1936, it wasn’t exactly written with a woman’s point of view in mind (seeing as women couldn’t even vote 16 years prior.) I’m thinking maybe we need to revisit how these lessons pertain to the average Millennial woman in 2014. Here are the top 5 lessons that really stuck with me:
A smile is hands down the best way to make a great first impression. A study published in The Guardian found that a first impression is made after about 15 seconds of meeting another person- often before words are even exchanged. Smiling is the best way to put yourself and others around you at ease. Unfortunately, some women are judged prematurely for our Cara Delavigne style “RBF” or, “Resting Bitch Face“. Yes, that’s actually a term. In short, a woman’s expressionless face can often look annoyed or mean. Don’t let that happen to you!
2. Give honest, sincere appreciation
This is another one that goes a long way both personally and professionally. So many gestures go unrecognized because we think the other person was simply “doing their job”. If your coworker put in some extra hours to meet a deadline, they deserve your gratitude. If they know how appreciative you are, you can bet they’ll hit their deadlines early, every time. What about your boyfriend who went out of his way to pick up tampons for you at the store? Yes, I suppose that could be considered part of “his job”. But…hello! That was a really nice thing he just did for you. Where would you be without him? We’re not going to go there. Point taken, right? Women get such a bad reputation for being “non-appreciative”. I think that mostly has to do with the fact that we’re often too busy to stop and think what we’re actually appreciative about. Regardless, always make recognizing others top of mind.
3. Remember names
I am so bad at this one. Seriously, I have this phobia where I’m going to get someone’s name wrong, so sometimes I don’t ever use their name unless I’ve met them multiple times. I know, I’m only handicapping myself. Carnegie, asks us to, “Remember that a man’s name is to him the sweetest and most important sound in the English language.” That being said, I’ve devised a simple trick to make this task less daunting: When being introduced to someone new, think of another person you know with the same name. Picture that person when you’re talking to your latest acquaintance. For example, if I just met a new girl named “Ally” at work, I will think of one of my best friends from college named Ally. Specifically, I will recall the image of her dressed as Spuds MacKenzie (the Budweiser dog) on Halloween. I will never forget that girls name again, because I associate her with such a memorable mental image!
4. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically
This is a big one, because it’s not a skill a lot of us possess. Establishing respect in the workplace takes time, but one of the quickest ways to gain respect is to admit when you’ve made a mistake. Messing up is terrifying, and it’s easy to make excuses. But honestly, you’ll be in less hot water if you fess up when you’re wrong. The same goes for your personal relationships. If you address what you’ve done right off the bat, chances are, nobody will be mad at you for it.
5. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it
How many times per week do you discuss arguments with your girlfriends? Fights between friends, sisters, and significant others. Drama is everywhere in this age of reality television- you can’t even turn on the TV without seeing a grown women throw a drink in another woman’s face. Truth be told, arguments never end on a positive note for either party. I think we need to all remember this one bit of advice: that the only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.