Recently I finished the book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It is a self-help book that I listened to on the way to work and back for the last couple of weeks. The book was published in 1936 but still has application today. Because this is a CrossFit blog, I will give you a few of my favorite points that may help you be a better person in your community and build better relationships with your classmates. There are plenty of thoughts in this book that could also help you in your professional career, so if you have not read (or listened) to it yet, I highly recommend it.
Let’s start with an easy one, a SMILE. Smiling is one of the easiest things you can do to build rapport with someone. Walking into a room with a smile on your face will completely change the way strangers perceive you. Smiling makes you more approachable and trustworthy. Imagine someone walking in for a class with a stern look on his or her face avoiding eye contact compared to someone who walks in with a smile. So do not be a Debbie Downer. Start smiling more!
This paragraph is a mash-up of a few of Carnegie’s points, and for word count sake it is necessary.
Take an interest in someone else’s’ interests, even if it is just briefly, and listen to them. Listening is something people my age (millennials) have a hard time doing. We can absorb information instantly because of our connection to the technology so having to listen to someone talk for three minutes about their workout yesterday is hard, and most of the time when we do listen, we are just waiting for our chance to tell them about our workout and not listening at all. Let the other person do the talking and allow them to keep talking by asking them questions but DO NOT ARGUE. Being genuinely interested in what the other person is saying and avoiding arguments is one of the best ways to earn someone’s friendship.
Carnegie talks about criticism, praise, encouragement and how all of these play a factor in your relationships and all of his points are fantastic ones. Many of these are more applicable in a professional career and are something most should read. Again, to save word count, I am going to skip those and encourage you to read the book.
The final point I am going to put in is to Live Your Life With Integrity. It is an indirect point made in the book, but something that I took away from a journal article I read almost eight years ago called, The Deeper Side of Coaching. One of the main ways of keeping integrity is to AVOID GOSSIP, even though sometimes it is easy to get caught up in it. Not only is gossiping wrong but what you are telling people is that you are going to talk behind their backs when they are not around as well. Make it a general practice to defend someone who is not present. As awkward as this may be, you will build greater trust that way than continuing to gossip. Integrity is also built by never overpromising and not being afraid to say no. If you are unable to do something, do not lead on as if you can. If you cannot make it somewhere or are unsure if you can do something, do not be afraid to say no. People will be more hurt by you canceling last minute or not showing up than they will be by you saying no. Although, if you say no to everything at some point people will stop asking. Lastly, be known as the person who holds the door for someone, doesn’t drive like a jerk, dresses nice, tips well at restaurants and the person who supports everyone. Being the person who is liked because you are genuinely a good person and not because you are a good exerciser is more rewarding and lasting.
The key to enjoying your time with your community is having a good relationship with EVERYONE in your community. Ultimately, remember that when you are dealing with people, you are not dealing with creatures of logic but with creatures of emotion. Approach each conversation with a smile and listen with intent and interest. Live a life of integrity and be seen as a good person and your life will be much better for it.