This post is based on “How to Have Confidence and Power in Dealing with People” by Les Giblin.
In order to learn how to have confidence and power when dealing with people, we must first understand that human beings seek pleasure and avoid pain. We seek the approval of others and we avoid their criticisms.
When you get many likes on your social media, it makes you want to do more of it. When you praise someone for something, it makes them want to do more for you. Praise has a tendency to increase whatever it is aimed at.
On the other hand, when we get criticism from those around us, it hurts. Sometimes criticism can be constructive, but the majority of criticism in society comes from people with low self-esteem who want to increase their own egos or decrease yours. If you’re on good terms with yourself, you’re on good terms with others. If you’re not on good terms with yourself, you will try to bring down others with insults and criticism.
Instead of returning insults to these sensitive individuals, we should try to help them. It’s counterintuitive, but when someone insults you, your best option is to give them a genuine compliment. Les Giblin explains on page seventeen how to deal with people who insult you,
“There is only one way to deal with trouble-makers: Help the other fellow like himself better.”
By giving genuine praise to others, we feed their hungry egos, and we can overcome social tension. If you don’t allow insults to affect you, and respond with compliments and kindness, you won’t be insulted much more.
“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” - Abraham Lincoln
How to compliment others
Compliments and praise should always be genuine and honest to have the impact you want. Most people can discern genuine praise from mere flattery, and if they believe you’re flattering them, they won’t like or trust you.
Everyone is more agreeable after you give them a genuine compliment, however, to ensure that your compliment has the greatest effect, you want to make it specific. People are more pleased at a compliment if you praise them for a virtue that is not glaringly obvious. Les Giblin gives an example of how to praise on page 140,
“Most people feel ill at ease (or at least feel you are handing them a line) if you just walk up and say, ‘You’re a great guy.’ But if you pick out something specific he has done, he feels good about it.”
If someone has no doubt about a virtue, they won’t react much at all. That’s why calling a beautiful woman beautiful rarely has an impact. People want to be special and unique. It is best to compliment others for things that don’t apply to many other people; compliments should be specific to the individual if at all possible i.e. “I love the way your eyes squint when you laugh” is a much better compliment than “You are cute.”
Praise a person for his work and he will do more work. Praise him for his behavior and his behavior will improve. But praise him merely as a person and you only increase his egotism and conceit. Praise actions and qualities, not people.
Perhaps you have difficulty in finding good in others. Giving genuine compliments is a skill and it requires practice, but you should know that there are an infinite number of compliments you could give, and even the worst person has a few things you could praise.
“The measure of mental health is the disposition to find good everywhere”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you find it difficult to find something genuine to compliment, you want to form the habit of complimenting others. Start now.
How to Criticize others
If you can, try to never criticize others. Don’t criticize others unless it is of critical importance. Correcting others is a sure fire way to insult the other fellow and damage his ego in a way he won’t soon forget. Les Giblin states this with examples of when to criticize,
“If he says the gun isn’t loaded, and you know it is, contradict him. If he says the bottle contains nail polish and you know it contains nitroglycerin, correct him. But if he says it is 83 million miles to the sun, what real difference does it make if the figure is incorrect unless you are an astronomer or mathematician and the exact figure will make a difference in your problem.”
Many times criticism isn’t necessary, however, if you must criticize, only criticize in private. Always preface your criticism with a kind word or compliment. Always finish your criticism with a word of positive reinforcement. End on a good note i.e. “I know you’ll do better next time.”
Criticize the act, not the person. If you believe others are better than their performance, they will do better. If your goal is to influence, the best way to get another to acquire a virtue is to impute it to him. Your beliefs about others are powerful, so use them wisely.
Some Additional Tips on Dealing with Others
Smile. It’s your greatest asset and it’s limitless! Not only does your smile make others treat you better, it also makes you feel better. When you smile at someone, they will more likely see you as a friend. When your face makes a smile, your brain releases better endorphins that make you feel better, so “fake it ‘til you make it” actually works in this situation. Form the habit of smiling as often as you can and I guarantee you will see results in your mood and how others treat you.
Get the other fellow talking. Any great conversationalist is an expert in getting the other person to talk about himself. If the other person is talking about himself, the conversation will flow. Only talk about yourself under two circumstances: if you are asked about yourself or to identify yourself with the other fellow and his interests.
To get others to help you, say “If you were me, how would you do it?” Ask for the other person’s thoughts and ideas, not their work. If you ask others for their advice, they will participate in your idea and they’ll end up working for you too!
These were the few takeaways I had after my third reading of this excellent book. I only covered a few of the gems this book has to offer. If you’re interested in personal development, this book is a must-have. You can buy it on Amazon for a reasonable price or check your local library for a copy.