Advice I Actually Took… And Worked: Dale Carnegie

Millions of people read self help books, or follow motivational speakers, or subscribe to the media pages of great minds and take in hours upon hours of content and advice. However, most people don’t actually take that advice and put it into action. That’s pretty much the difference between a success and failure. We live in a time in which you literally have all the information you could possible need at your finger tips, yet it still takes action, application, discipline, and resolve to get where you need to go… and unfortunately, most people don’t realize that.

So I figured I would highlight a few great minds that I have learned from, the information they have presented, and the actual actions I applied.

The first real book I read that had any life lessons was Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. I have been through this book four times now and each time I pick up on more and it reinforces elements I have put into action since the last time. There is truly a lot of great material in this book, but the overarching idea is to show sincere interest in people, do the right thing, remember that their opinion does in fact matter and that as humans were are mainly concerned with ourselves, so listen more, talk less, and don’t be a dick.

That being said there are a few direct pieces that I took the very first time and immediately put into action.

“If you were in their shoes… you’d feel the exact same way.”

In a time where we get to use the cover of Facebook to engage in fights we’d never normally have in real life, we tend to be more polar and aggressive in our arguments. We all know that this is no way helps, and nothing ever gets accomplished, however, it’s almost like we can’t help ourselves. When I find myself in a discussion/debate/argument I try to remember that person has formulated their opinion based on their past experiences, their influences through life, and the context of their life. If you were that person, with the same experiences, you would in fact feel exactly how they do.

If you come from a home with two happily married parents, that will change your opinions compared to someone that came from a split home. If one of those parents was abusive (physically, verbally, psychologically) that will further sway your thoughts and opinions. If you have money, you will have a different outlook than someone that doesn’t. So on and so forth. Every experience throughout life has lead you to develop your own code of conduct, morals, rules, opinions etc…

Knowing this, you cannot talk to someone and educate someone or “win them” to your side, by speaking in context of your personal experiences. You HAVE TO speak to them and relate to them on their experiences. If you are a leader or teacher, this is absolutely imperative. Yes, most people will blindly follow an authority figure, however, blind loyalty is not a sign of true leadership. If you want to truly educate people, help them, convince them, you must try to walk in their shoes.

The caveat to that being, if you talk more than you listen, you will never know where they are coming from and will never make any progress in your conversation. This is a crucial principle as a leader, a teacher, a business owner, as a human. Try to relate to the them and try to speak to their context. If you were in their shoes, how would you feel, and if you feel this way, how do we find middle ground to discuss this.

Give Praise Before Criticism

This is actually a concept that was introduced to me by Mark Slane when I first began teaching for him in 2008. It’s way easier to accept a correction, suggestion, or criticism if it follows a compliment. Mark taught the concept of “Praise-Correct-Praise” in all of his instructor programs. Dale does a great job of breaking this concept down in more detail and more importantly pointing out one of the most important pieces of this: your praise MUST BE SINCERE.

Many people understand the concept of “buttering someone up” before asking for a favor or possibly critiquing them. By upping their spirits, we can introduce the matter at hand on a positive note and handle it in a better manner. However, where most people fail with this idea is that they lean on superficial praise. As humans were are generally good at picking up on “fake people” and bullshit compliments. If you’re just saying random shit with no heart or honesty behind it, you’re going to start on the wrong foot. When making your compliment, be honest and be sincere.

In the context of teaching self defense it may look like this. We’re working on punches, I notice the student is dropping their hands and I want to correct them. Even though they are dropping their hands, I notice they are doing a great job of driving their entire body and hitting with power. So I begin with “Your power and drive is looking freaking awesome today, I know that’s something you have been working on. Now that you are doing great on that, don’t forget we need to make sure we can protect ourselves as well, so keep those hands up and make sure when you send one out, it comes right back to the face.” It’s an honest compliment, it makes them realize they are improving, and that improvement is noticeable. Now they are even more open to the next piece of information from me that they need to work on. And again, I cannot stress this enough, the praise was sincere. I am in fact excited about their power and how they have improved on it.

Next time you have to correct, or help someone improve upon themselves or a task, try this little trick out. Not only will it help you improve your results, but it will force you to look for things to sincerely praise, and that will allow you start seeing the best in people… or at least a few good things haha!

Let the Other Person Save Face

Another great piece of advice for arguments, corrections, or overall leadership is the basic concept of winning and progressing while letting your “opponent” or peer, save face. It’s easy to criticize someone’s mistakes or ignorance. It’s very easy to resort to name calling or to try and purposely put the other person down. You may in fact “win” your argument or get your point across, however, you burn bridges and opportunities that could result in progress later on. Not only that but you kill morale, and incentive to perform, all while losing the respect and loyalty of others.

If you find yourself in a position where you know you are right, or have the opportunity to purposely make the other person look bad, it is in your best interest not o do so. The discussions can go much smoother and in fact come out even more in your favor immediately if you show sincere respect for the other persons place, and understanding for their lack of knowledge or mistakes.

This falls in the “Don’t be a dick” category. The high road always has the better view, and though it is the route less travelled and may seem harder, the benefits are immense.

In Conclusion

These are just three pieces of the amazing book that I have directly applied. There is so much more material to pull from. If you have a chance to check this book out, definitely do it. But, remember the lesson here. Reading it, does nothing and means nothing, unless you actually put it in practice. At the end of the day, it’s YOUR responsibility to do the work, and your results will be a direct result of your input.

Now get after it!

Be good, train hard, stay safe!


*For more books and resources I use, visit my Amazon List