In the summer of 2002, I was promoted from a senior developer to a manager leading a four person team. I was thrilled.

As other technical managers, my thinking was really natural. Since I was promoted, that means my way of doing things was the right way. Now, I just needed to require everybody to behave like myself and my team would be the best!

I failed in no time. It’s impossible to require everybody to behave like myself. I was young and single. Just got my master degree of computer science from a good university. I can adapt to new technologies easily. I can work 12 hours everyday including weekend. All my team mates were married and have family to take care of. They were much older than me. They couldn’t frequently spend their after work time working over time and learning new technologies. And they had their own ways of doing things and learning.

Fine. I would take all the work. Whenever they didn’t know how to do the job, I took over. Gradually, I found this wouldn’t work either since I barely have any free time left. The output of the team was not satisfactory.

I was very strict on every one’s job, maintaining a very high standard. I constantly criticized my team mate’s work and asked them to redo it multiple times. Eventually, I found that they started to ask me for very specific instructions and wouldn’t start the work until they get the instructions. I felt I was exhausted and couldn’t handle it anymore.

Why didn’t they listen to me? Why couldn’t they do the good jobs as I did? Why did they keep asking questions? Why cannot they work independently by themselves?

At my darkest moment as a new manager, I started to question myself. Maybe it’s because ME? Maybe I am not a good manager?

How to Win Friends & Influence People

In a Sunday afternoon, I still remembered very clearly, I was visiting one of my best friends. On one of her sofa, lied a little booklet. I picked it up, randomly, and read the title, “How to Win Friends & Influence People”. “Influence People”? That was exactly what I wanted then! There was a BOOK about it? Wow! I started to pick some chapters to read. It blew me away.

At that very day back to home, I ordered this book from Amazon.com, overnight delivery. I finished reading it first time in a week. And about 5-6 times afterwards.

It opened up my eyes about how to effectively interact with other people. The first time, I realized that there are knowledge about relationships with other people and it’s actually a skill that you can learn and master, as other technologies.

Here are all the skills talked in this book. They are exposed as Principles that you need to follow. Violating those Principles may resulting in a disaster in relationships.

Fundamental Techniques In Handling People

  • Principle 1: Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
  • Principle 2: Give honest and sincere appreciation.
  • Principle 3: Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Six Ways to Make People Like You

  • Principle 1: Become genuinely interested in other people.
  • Principle 2: Smile
  • Principle 3: Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  • Principle 4: Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  • Principle 5: Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
  • Principle 6: Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

How to Win People Your Way of Thinking

  • Principle 1: The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
  • Principle 2: Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”
  • Principle 3: If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
  • Principle 4: Begin in a friendly way.
  • Principle 5: Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.
  • Principle 6: Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
  • Principle 7: Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
  • Principle 8: Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
  • Principle 9: Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
  • Principle 10: Appeal to the nobler motives.
  • Principle 11: Dramatize your ideas.
  • Principle 12: Throw down a challenge.

Be a leader:

  • Principle 1: Begin with praise and honest appreciation
  • Principle 2: Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly
  • Principle 3: Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person
  • Principle 4: Ask questions instead of giving direct orders
  • Principle 5: Let the other person save face
  • Principle 6: Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise. “
  • Principle 7: Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
  • Principle 8: Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct
  • Principle 9: Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggested.

Dale Carnegie was a great public speaker. He conveyed his ideas strongly in this book via vivid examples. Although the book was written several decades ago in 1930s, it is still very applicable to today’s world and circumstances. Just read each principle and think about it. It’s easy to understand why each one of them should work. All are common sense and tap into the deep human nature. They are all simple and straightforward. Easy to put into action.

I learned a great deal from those techniques. However, I found out soon applying those techniques on my team mates didn’t work too well. They soon suspected that I was playing some games with them. The harder I tried, the more suspicious and less cooperative they were. Something was missing here.

My puzzle was resolved when I read Steven Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People“. All Dale Carnegie’s techniques are correct and good. But you need to drive them with a sincere heart. Otherwise, people can easily see through your techniques and sense your underline motives.

To really make those techniques work, you need to change yourself first before you even try to change others. You need to adopt some new principles, deeply believe them and communicate them explicitly to people around you. You need to earn people’s trust. They have to believe you are doing all this for mutual benefit and for their own good before they will willingly work with you, Only until them, those techniques will become handy and can smooth out the process. But, not before that.

The matter of fact is people are willing to be led and influenced. People are willing to have someone to help them be a better person and live a better live. You just need to know how to do that.

Remember, change yourself first before change others. Trust come before techniques! Good luck with your journey among people!

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