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Positive Voice Blog

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Posted on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 by Positivevoice

When I read advice about communication skills which dates back to the time of Aristotle (that's 2300 years ago), I am shocked by how little some of these theories are put into practice today.

We're taught to read, write and spell at school, but very little attention is paid to the art of spoken communication. I often find myself asking how this can be?

Aristotle put a big emphasis on pathos (empathy) and ethos (sincerity). Let's look at these two qualities in more depth.

In my opinion, one of the best ways to show empathy is through listening and generally showing an interest in others. You see, everyone has an inherent need to be valued and by listening to someone, you indicate that what they have to say is important to you. Unfortunately, most people prefer talking to listening and very little emphasis is put on the art of listening. I wonder how many people plan pauses and rhetorical questions in advance of their business meetings? Perhaps a few, but not as many as those who spend hours dreaming up intelligent things to say.

People who are sincere really mean what they say. You can see the alignment between their words, their physiology and their emotions. You can just tell that they really care and truly believe in what they're saying.

When empathy is combined with sincerity, a great deal of rapport is created. That sense of being on the same wavelength. The opposite is also true; when people show little or no interest in you, you can only assume that you are of little importance to them. If you take a moment to think about who your best friends are and how they treat you, I bet that the ones you most enjoy spending time with are those who give you the gift of their attention; the ones who are genuinely interested in you.

Herein lies the secret to making friends and influencing people, which was written about by Dale Carnegie in the 1930s!

Similarly, Aristotle gave the equation Empathy + Sincerity = Persuasion. For him persuasion meant a shift in attitude. You can feel this shift when you call up a company to complain about something and they are so courteous and thorough that you end up liking the company even more- unfortunately, companies like these are few and far between. Abel and Cole and Newnet are the two I've experienced best customer service from in recent months. On these occasions, it appears as if their only concern is you and there's nothing like feeling valued, is there?

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