Contemplating Seneca #36

Maybe we can’t enjoy our friends and family the way we want to now. Maybe the best we can hope for is a text or a phone/video call. Make the most of it. We are fortunate to live in a time when this is possible.

And when we get back to normal, let us not forget what is was like to be separated from the ones we love. Let us embrace our friends and family and enjoy their companionship. When it is once again available to us, remember it is a privilege and one not to be taken for granted.

Chang Duong
Photo by Chang Duong courtesy of Unsplash

How Did You Make Them Feel?

Two years ago I read the book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This was such a good book that I read it again last year. It is now on my annual reading list. The lessons are really valuable. And if I don’t keep them fresh on my mind, they are easily forgettable.

It is a strange title for a book. It gets right to the point, and one would think it would be a must-read for anyone lacking influence with little to no friends. You could even go so far as to think this is a completely selfish book that would help the reader grow in popularity. To some degree, you would be right. But as you take the lessons to heart and grow as a person, it becomes less about you and more about the people you come into contact with. The better you treat others, the more friends you win. And as your group of friends increase, the greater your sphere of influence.

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I’ve learned that people will forgive what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. –Maya Angelou

The feelings of others is a tricky thing. It is easy to run roughshod right over them if you are not paying attention. I try to guard my feelings. I try not to be overly sensitive to the way others make me feel. It works for me, but I can’t have that expectation for others. I have to be mindful of how I make others feel. If I don’t, then I risk losing friends, customers, and co-workers. I could even alienate family members if I am not careful.

Say the wrong thing out of character, and you can try to rectify it. Do something stupid, and maybe in time it will become a thing of the past. But if you damage someone’s feelings, you will damage them on the inside. The wound will never properly heal, because they will never really forget the sin you committed against them.

There’s a few key principles from Carnegie’s book to keep in mind. Follow these and you can create lasting and loyal friendships:

  • Become genuinely interested in other people.
  • Make them feel important.
  • Call them by their names (which means you have to take the time to learn and remember their names).
  • Get them to talk about themselves. Do it by asking questions.
  • Listen to what they are saying, not force them to hear what you have to say.
  • Don’t criticize.

The best effect of fine persons is felt after we have left their presence. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Double-Edged Friend

Henry Ford once said, “My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.” Does your best friend bring out the best in you? If your friends are not bringing out the best in you, then why do you keep their company? Friendship, however, is a two-way street, and I find this Henry Ford quote to have a double-edged meaning. Do you bring out the best in your friends?

Iron is sharpened by iron; one person sharpens another. –Proverbs 27:17