Listen to this post:
I was waiting in line to register a letter in the Post Office at Thirty-Third Street and Eighth Avenue in New York. I noticed that the registry clerk was bored with his job — weighing envelopes, handing out the stamps, making change, issuing receipts — the same monotonous grind year after year. So I said to myself: “I am going to try to make that chap like me. Obviously, to make him like me, I must say something nice, not about myself, but about him. So I asked myself: ‘What is there about him that I can honestly admire?’ ” That is sometimes a hard question to answer, especially with strangers; but, in this case, it happened to be easy. I instantly saw something I admired no end.
So while he was weighing my envelope, I remarked with enthusiasm: “I certainly wish I had your head of hair.”
He looked up, half-startled, his face beaming with smiles. “Well, it isn’t as good as it used to be,” he said modestly. I assured him that although it might have lost some of its pristine glory, nevertheless it was still magnificent. He was immensely pleased. We carried on a pleasant little conversation, and the last thing he said to me was: “Many people have admired my hair.”
I’ll bet that chap went out to lunch that day walking on air. I’ll bet he went home that night and told his wife about it. I’ll bet he looked in the mirror and said: “It is a beautiful head of hair.”
I told this story once in public; and a man asked me afterwards: “What did you want to get out of him?”
What was I trying to get out of him!!! What was I trying to get out of him!!!
If we are so contemptibly selfish that we can’t radiate a little happiness and pass on a bit of honest appreciation without trying to screw something out of the other person in return—if our souls are no bigger than sour crab apples, we shall meet with the failure we so richly deserve.
Oh yes, I did want something out of that chap. I wanted something priceless. And I got it. I got the feeling that I had done something for him without his being able to do anything whatever in return for me. That is a feeling that glows and sings in your memory long after the incident is passed.
There is one all-important law of human conduct. If we obey that law, we shall almost never get into trouble. In fact, that law, if obeyed, will bring us countless friends and constant happiness. But the very instant we break that law, we shall get into endless trouble. The law is this: Always make the other person feel important. Professor John Dewey, as we have already noted, says that the desire to be important is the deepest urge in human nature; and Professor William James says: “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” As I have already pointed out, it is the urge that differentiates us from the animals. It is the urge that has been responsible for civilization itself.
Philosophers have been speculating on the rules of human relationships for thousands of years, and out of all that speculation there has evolved only one important precept. It is not new. It is as old as history. Zoroaster taught it to his fire-worshippers in Persia three thousand years ago, Confucius preached it in China twenty-four centuries ago. Lao-Tse, the founder of Taoism, taught it to his disciples in the Valley of the Han. Buddha preached it on the banks of the Holy Ganges five hundred years before Christ. The sacred books of Hinduism taught it a thousand years before that. Jesus taught it among the stony hills of Judea nineteen centuries ago. Jesus summed it up in one thought—probably the most important rule in the world: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
You want the approval of those with whom you come in contact. You want recognition of your true worth. You want a feeling that you are important in your little world. You don’t want to listen to cheap, insincere flattery, but you do crave sincere appreciation. You want your friends and associates to be, as Charles Schwab puts it, “hearty in their approbation and lavish in their praise”. All of us want that.
So let’s obey the Golden Rule, and give unto others what we would have others give unto us.
How? When? Where? The answer is: all the time, everywhere.
For example, I asked the information clerk in Radio City for the number of Henry Souvaine’s office. Dressed in a neatuniform, he prided himself on the way he dispensed knowledge. Clearly and distinctly he replied: “Henry Souvaine. (Pause.) 18th floor. (Pause.) Room 1816.”
I rushed for the elevator, then paused and went back and said: “I want to congratulate you on the splendid way you answered my question. You were very clear and precise. You did it like an artist. And that’s unusual.”
Beaming with pleasure, he told me why he made each pause, and precisely why each phrase was uttered as it was. My few words made him carry his necktie a bit higher; and as I shot up to the eighteenth floor. I got a feeling of having added a trifle to the sum total of human happiness that afternoon.
You don’t have to wait until you are ambassador to France or chairman of the Clambake Committee of the Elk’s Club before you use this philosophy of appreciation. You can work magic with it almost every day.
If, for example, the waitress brings us mashed potatoes when we ordered French fried, let’s say: “I’m sorry to trouble you, but I prefer French fried.” She’ll reply: “No trouble at all”, and will be glad to do it because you have shown respect for her.
Little phrases such as “I’m sorry to trouble you”, “Would you be so kind as to——”, “Won’t you please”, “Would you mind”, “Thank you”—little courtesies like that oil the cogs of the monotonous grind of everyday life—and, incidentally, they are the hall-mark of good breeding.
Let’s take another illustration. Did you ever read any of Hall Caine’s novels—The Christian, The Deemster, The Manxman? Millions of people read his novels, countless millions. He was the son of a blacksmith. He never had more than eight years’ schooling in his life, yet when he died he was the richest literary man the world has ever known.
The story goes like this: Hall Caine loved sonnets and ballads: so he devoured all of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s poetry. He even wrote a lecture chanting the praises of Rossetti’s artistic achievements—and sent a copy to Rossetti himself. Rossetti was delighted. “Any young man who has such an exalted opinion of my ability,” Rossetti probably said to himself, “must be brilliant.” So Rossetti invited this blacksmith’s son to come to London and act as his secretary. That was the turning point in Hall Caine’s life; for, in his new position, he met the literary artists of the day. Profiting by their advice and inspired by their encouragement, he launched upon a career that emblazoned his name across the sky.
His home, Greeba Castle, on the Isle of Man, became a Mecca for tourists from the far corners of the world; and he left an estate of $2,500,000. Yet—who knows—-he might have died poor and unknown had he not written an essay expressing his admiration for a famous man.
Such is the power, the stupendous power, of sincere, heartfelt appreciation.
Rossetti considered himself important. That is not strange. Almost everyone considers himself important, very important.
So does every nation.
Do you feel that you are superior to the Japanese? The truth is that the Japanese consider themselves far superior to you. A conservative Japanese, for example, is infuriated at the sight of a white man dancing with a Japanese lady.
Do you consider yourself superior to the Hindus in India? That is your privilege; but a million Hindus feel so infinitely superior to you that they wouldn’t befoul themselves by condescending to touch food that your heathen shadow had fallen across and contaminated.
Do you feel you are superior to the Eskimos? Again, that is your privilege; but would you really like to know what the Eskimo thinks of you? Well, there are a few native hobos among the Eskimos, worthless tramps who refuse to work. The Eskimos call them “white men”—that being their utmost term of contempt.
Each nation feels superior to other nations. That breeds patriotism—and wars.
The untarnished truth is that almost every man you meet feels himself superior to you in some way; and a sure way to his heart is to let him realize in some subtle way that you recognize his importance in his little world, and recognize it sincerely.
Remember what Emerson said: “Every man I meet is in some way my superior; and in that I can learn of him.”
And the pathetic part of it is that frequently those who have the least justification for a feeling of achievement bolster up their inner feeling of inadequacy by an outward shouting and tumult and conceit that are offensive and truly nauseating.
As Shakespeare put it: “Man, proud man! dressed in a little brief authority, plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven as make the angels weep.”
I am going to tell you three stories of how businessmen in my own courses have applied these principles with remarkable results. Let’s take the case first of a Connecticut attorney who prefers not to have his name mentioned because of his relatives. We’ll call him Mr. R.
Shortly after joining the course, he motored down to Long Island with his wife to visit some of her relatives. She left him to chat with an old aunt of hers and then rushed off by herself to visit some of her younger relatives. Since he had to make a talk on how he had applied the principles of appreciation, he thought he would begin with the old lady. So he looked around the house to see what he could honestly admire.
“This house was built about 1890, wasn’t it?” he inquired.
“Yes,” she replied, “that is precisely the year it was built.”
“It reminds me of the house in which I was born,” he said. “It is beautiful. Well built. Roomy. You know, they don’t build houses like this any more.”
“You’re right,” the old lady agreed. “The young folks nowadays don’t care for beautiful homes, All they want is a small apartment and an electric ice-box, and then they go off gadding about in their automobiles.
“This is a dream house,” she said in a voice vibrating with tender memories. “This house was built with love. My husband and I dreamed about it for years before we built it. We didn’t have an architect. We planned it all ourselves.”
She then showed him about the house, and he expressed his hearty admiration for all the beautiful treasures she had picked up in her travels and cherished over a lifetime: Paisley shawls, an old English tea-set, Wedgwood china, French beds and chairs, Italian paintings, and silk draperies that had once hung in a French chateau.
“After showing me through the house,” said Mr. R., “she took me out to the garage. There, jacked up on blocks, was a Packard car—almost new.”
“My husband bought that car shortly before he passed on,” she said softly. “I have never ridden in it since his death. . . . You appreciate nice things, and I’m going to give this car to you.”
“Why, aunty,” he said, “you overwhelm me. I appreciate your generosity, of course; but I couldn’t possibly accept it. I’m not even a relative of yours. I have a new car; and you have many relatives that would like to have that Packard.”
“Relatives!” she exclaimed. “Yes, I have relatives who are just waiting till I die so they can get that car. But they are not going to get it.”
“If you don’t want to give it to them, you can very easily sell it to a second-hand dealer,” he told her.
“Sell it!” she cried. “Do you think I would sell this car? Do you think I could stand to see strangers riding up and down the street in that car—that car that my husband bought for me? I wouldn’t dream of selling it. I am going to give it to you. You appreciate beautiful things!”
He tried to get out of accepting the car; but he couldn’t without hurting her feelings.
This old lady, left in a big house all alone with her Paisley shawls, her French antiques, and her memories, was starving for a little recognition. She had once been young and beautiful and sought after. She had once built a house warm with love and had collected things from all over Europe to make it beautiful. Now, in the isolated loneliness of old age, she craved a little human warmth, a little genuine appreciation—and no one gave it to her. And when she found it, like a spring in the desert, her gratitude couldn’t adequately express itself with anything less than the gift of a Packard car.
Let’s take another case: Donald M. McMahon, superintendent of Lewis and Valentine, nurserymen and landscape architects in Rye, New York, related this incident:
“Shortly after I heard the talk on ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’, I was landscaping the estate of a famous attorney. The owner came out to give me a few suggestions about where he wished to plant a mass of rhododendrons and azaleas.
“I said: ‘Judge, you have a lovely hobby. I have been admiring your beautiful dogs. I understand you win a lot of blue ribbons every year at the big dog show in Madison Square Garden.’
“The effect of this little expression of appreciation was striking.
“Yes,” the judge replied, ‘I do have a lot of fun with my dogs. Wouldn’t you like to see my kennels?”
“He spent almost an hour showing me his dogs and the prizes they had won. He even brought out their pedigrees and explained the blood lines responsible for such beauty and intelligence.
“Finally, turning to me, he asked: ‘Do you have a little boy?”
“ ‘Yes, I do,’ I replied.
“ ‘Well, wouldn’t he like a puppy?’ the judge inquired.
“ ‘Oh, yes, he’d be tickled pink.’
“All right, I am going to give him one,’ the judge announced.
“He started to tell me how to feed the puppy. Then he paused. ‘You’ll forget it if I tell you. I’ll write it out.’ So the judge went in the house, typed out the pedigree and feeding instructions and gave me a puppy worth a hundred dollars and one hour and fifteen minutes of his valuable time, largely because I expressed my honest admiration for his hobby and achievements.”
George Eastman, of Kodak fame, invented the transparent film that made motion pictures possible, amassed a fortune of a $100 million, and made himself one of the most famous business-men on earth. Yet in spite of all these tremendous accomplishments, he craved little recognitions even as you and I.
To illustrate: A number of years ago, Eastman was building the Eastman School of Music in Rochester and also Kilbourn Hall, a theatre in memory of his mother. James Adamson, president of the Superior Seating Company of New York, wanted to get the order to supply the theatre:chairs for these buildings. Phoning the architect, Mr. Adamson made an appointment to see Mr. Eastman in Rochester.
When Adamson arrived, the architect said: “I know you want to get this order; but I can tell you right now that you won’t stand a ghost of a chance if you take more than five minutes of George Eastman’s time. He is a martinet. He is very busy. So tell your story quickly and get out.”
Adamson was prepared to do just that.
When he was ushered into the room, he noticed Mr. Eastman bending over a pile of papers at his desk. Presently,Mr. Eastman looked up, removed his glasses, and walked toward the architect and Mr. Adamson, saying: “Good morning, gentlemen, what can I do for you.”
The architect introduced them, ‘and then Mr. Adamson said:
“While we have been waiting for you, Mr. Eastman, I have been admiring your office. I wouldn’t mind working myself if I had a room like this to work in. You know I am in the interior-woodworking business myself, and I never saw a more beautiful office in all my life.”
George Eastman replied: “You remind me of something I had almost forgotten. It is beautiful, isn’t it? I enjoyed it a great deal when it was first built. But I. come down here now with a lot of other things on my mind and sometimes don’t even see the room for weeks at a time.”
Adamson walked over and rubbed his hand across a panel. “This is English oak, isn’t it? A little different texture from Italian oak.”
“Yes,” Eastman replied. “That is imported English oak. It was selected for me by a friend who specializes in fine woods.”
Then Eastman showed him about the room, pointing out the proportions, the colouring, the hand carving, and other effects that he had helped to plan and execute.
While drifting about the room, admiring the woodwork, they paused before a window, and George Eastman, in his modest, soft-spoken way, pointed out some of the institutions through which he was trying to help humanity: the University of Rochester, the General Hospital, the Homeopathic Hospital, the Friendly Home, the Children’s Hospital. Mr. Adamson congratulated him warmly on the idealistic way he was using his wealth to alleviate the sufferings of humanity. Presently George Eastman unlocked a glass case and pulled out the first camera he had ever owned—-an invention he had bought from an Englishman.
Adamson questioned him at length about his early struggles to get started in business, and Mr. Eastman spoke with real feeling about the poverty of his childhood, told how his widowed mother had kept a boarding-house while he clerked in an insurance office for fifty cents a day. The terror of poverty haunted him day and night, and he resolved to make enough money so his mother wouldn’t have to work herself to death in a boarding-house. Mr. Adamson drew him out with further questions, and listened, absorbed,while he related the story of his experiments with dry photographic plates. He told how he had worked in an office all day, and sometimes experimented all night, taking only brief naps while the chemicals were working, sometimes working and sleeping in his clothes for seventy-two hours at a stretch.
James Adamson had been ushered into Eastman’s office at ten-fifteen and warned that he must not take more than five minutes; but an hour passed, two hours passed. They were still talking.
Finally, George Eastman turned to Adamson and said: “The last time I was in Japan I bought some chairs, brought them home, and put them in my sun porch. But the sun peeled the paint, so I went down town the other day and bought some paint and painted the chairs myself. Would you like to see what sort of a job I can do painting chairs? All right. Come up to my home and have lunch with me and I’ll show you.”
After lunch, Mr. Eastman showed Adamson the chairs he had brought from Japan. They weren’t worth more than $1.50 apiece, but George Eastman, who had made $100 million in business, was proud of them because he himself had painted them.
The order for the seats amounted to $90,000. Who do you suppose got the order-—James Adamson or one of his competitors?
From that time on until Mr. Eastman’s death, he and James Adamson were close friends.
Where should you and I begin applying this magic touchstone of appreciation? Why not begin right at home? I don’t know of any other place where it is more needed— or more neglected. Your wife must have some good points— at least you once thought she had, or you wouldn’t have married her. But how long has it been since you expressed your admiration for her attractions? How long???? How long????
I was fishing up on the head-waters of the Miramichi in New Brunswick a few years ago. I was isolated in a lonely camp deep in the Canadian woods. The only thing I could find to read was a country newspaper. I read everything in it, including the ads and an article by Dorothy Dix. Her article was so fine that I cut it out and kept it. She claimed she was tired of always hearing lectures to brides. She declared that someone ought to take the bridegroom to one side and give him this bit of sage advice:
“Never get married until you have kissed the Blarney Stone. Praising a woman before marriage is a matter of inclination. But praising one after you marry her is a matter of necessity—and personal safety. Matrimony is no place for candour. It is a field for diplomacy.
“If you wish to fare sumptuously every day, never knock your wife’s housekeeping or make invidious comparisons between it and your mother’s. But, on the contrary, be for ever praising her domesticity and openly congratulate yourself upon having married the only woman who combines the attractions of Venus and Minerva and Mary Ann. Even when the steak is leather and the bread a cinder, don’t complain. Merely remark that the meal isn’t up to her usual standard of perfection, and she will make a burnt offering of herself on the kitchen stove to live up to your ideal of her.”
Don’t begin this too suddenly—or she’ll be suspicious.
But tonight, or tomorrow night, bring her some flowers or a box of candy. Don’t merely say: “Yes, I ought to do it.” Do it! And bring her a smile in addition, and some warm words of affection. If more wives and more husbands did that, I wonder if we should still have one marriage out of every six shattered on the rocks of Reno?
Would you like to know how to make a woman fall in love with you? Well, here is the secret. This is going to be good. It is not my idea. I borrowed it from Dorothy Dix. She once interviewed a celebrated bigamist who had won the hearts and savings-bank accounts of twenty-three women. (And, by the way, it ought to be noted in passing that she interviewed him in gaol.) When she asked him his recipe for making women fall in love with him, he said it was no trick at all: all you had to do was to talk to a woman about herself.
And the same technique works with men: “Talk to a man about himself,” said Disraeli, one of the shrewdest men who ever ruled the British Empire, “talk to a man about himself and he will listen for hours.”
So if you want people to like you, Rule 6 is:
MAKE THE OTHER PERSON FEEL IMPORTANT — AND DO IT SINCERELY.
You’ve been reading this book long enough. Close it now, knock the dead ashes out of your pipe, and begin to apply this philosophy of appreciation at once on the person nearest you—and watch the magic work.