What do great workplaces, making friends, networking, dealing with kidnappers and being happy all have in common?
All are done well by focusing on other people: Get out of your head and into theirs.
Great Work Environments
Bob Sutton reviewed Bill and Dave: How Hewlett and Packard Built the World’s Greatest Company and called out “Dave Packard’s 11 Simple Rules” as guidelines for building an excellent work environment. What was #1?
1. Think first of the other fellow. This is THE foundation — the first requisite — for getting along with others. And it is the one truly difficult accomplishment you must make. Gaining this, the rest will be “a breeze.”
Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People is the classic on getting along well with others. (I broke down the social science underpinnings of it here.) Carnegie listed six ways to make people like you.
- Become genuinely interested in other people.
- Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
- Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
- Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.
- Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.
See a pattern?
I asked my buddy Adam, Fortune Magazine’s most connected guy in Silicon Valley, what his single best tip was for being better at networking. What did he say?
Every day, do something selfless for someone else that takes under five minutes. The essence of this thing you do should be that it makes a big difference to the person receiving the gift. Usually these favors take the form of an introduction, reference, feedback, or broadcast on social media.
Negotiating With Kidnappers
I interviewed my friend Chris Voss, former Lead International Hostage Negotiator for the FBI. What did he say was the key to influencing people — even when they have a gun to someone’s head?
If your first objective in the negotiation, instead of making your argument, is to hear the other side out, that’s the only way you can quiet the voice in the other guy’s mind. But most people don’t do that. They don’t walk into a negotiation wanting to hear what the other side has to say. They walk into a negotiation wanting to make an argument. They don’t pay attention to emotions and they don’t listen.
So what do you get out of all this attention to the needs and wants of others? Well, you just might get to be a very happy person.
“Researchers… found that happy people are ten times more likely to be other-oriented than self-centered. This suggests that happiness is a by-product of helping others rather than the result of its pursuit.”
So who is the happiest— a person who devotes his time to the pursuit of personal happiness or the person who devotes his life to helping others? The following brief exercise may help you fashion an answer to that question, which is one of life’s most fundamental.
First, list ten people whom you know well. Next, rate each person as either happy or unhappy. Finally, rate each person as either self-centered or other-oriented. Do you see a pattern? Researchers have: they’ve found that happy people are ten times more likely to be other-oriented than self-centered. This suggests that happiness is a by-product of helping others rather than the result of its pursuit.
Give it a try today. Stop thinking about yourself and think about the other person. Get out of your head and into theirs.
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