In this post, I offer you 3 steps toward becoming a friendlier person. It is just part 1 of my “Fleshing Out Carnegie Series,” which is based on the major themes of Dale Carnegie’s writings as delineated in Dale Carnegie’s Golden Book. To learn more about Dale Carnegie, who was perhaps only distantly related to steel mogul Andrew Carnegie, you can read his bio here. Though there is no mention of his faith in the bio, he was a devout Christian and often referred to Jesus in his writings.
What This Series Is
This series contains my own personal reflections on how Carnegie’s major themes might be useful today. In particular, I offer a Catholic spin on them whenever and wherever it seems appropriate.
And the title… Fleshing Out Carnegie? It’s a play on words. Carn = Latin for flesh. Sorry, I’m a geek for that kind of stuff.
What This Series Is Not
This series is not a summary or analysis of Carnegie’s own understanding of each of his major themes. Interested in learning more about those? Simply go to the first link above and read his books. By all accounts, they are classics and very worthwhile.
As promised, what follows are three steps toward becoming a friendlier person.
Step One in Becoming Friendlier – Don’t Criticize, Condemn, or Complain
Over the years, I learned this lesson the hard way. I think I still have a ways to go too, but I can remember times in the last 5-7 years when my wife reminded me that complaining was my main activity. I hope that’s not the case anymore.
Doesn’t it make sense that we become friendlier when we avoid criticism, condemnation, and complaining? Granted, constructive criticism is often welcomed. Some actions must always and everywhere be condemned. Registering a reasonable and proper complaint in appropriate circumstances can benefit others. I suspect these aren’t the kinds of criticism, condemnation, and complaining that we need to avoid in order to become friendlier people.
Might we be friendlier if we didn’t complain when someone does something differently than we would? Aren’t we friendlier when we heed Jesus’ advice to first deal with (or at least acknowledge) the beam in our own eyes before pointing out the splinter in another’s? Don’t we come off as friendlier when we search for the positive in every situation rather than dwelling on and complaining about the negative? Let’s face it, we know which of these behaviors attract us to people and which do not!
Step Two in Becoming Friendlier – Give Honest, Sincere Appreciation
Gratitude is so important. We neglect it far too much today. How much friendlier would we be if we sought opportunities to say thank you to those who have done some act of goodness or kindness? What would another person’s reaction be if we simply gave verbal notice that he or she is appreciated just for being who he or she is? I’m thinking of multiple times in this day alone when my own children merited my thanks, yet I let those moments pass by without notice.
Step Three in Becoming Friendlier – Arouse in The Other Person an Eager Want
What strikes me immediately is that, like the prior step, it’s about the other person. It’s not about you. It’s not about me. Right off the bat, that’s just plain friendly.
Also, this step focuses on offering something of value to another. In this case, we offer a desire for something good. If you’ve ever had a dog or cat, you’ll understand instantly why this matters. When we tell our pets we have a have a treat for them, they betray their excitement. They receive that treat, but the treat isn’t where things terminate for them. Instead, they associate their good feelings with the giver of the treat, which builds trust and feelings of affection. That said, we don’t want to compare people to pets!
Let’s consider Jesus. On the evening of the Resurrection, He met two men traveling on the Road to Emmaus. Troubled and sad because Jesus, Whom they hoped was the Messiah, had been crucified and, so far as they knew, was dead. Jesus, appearing to them in an unrecognizable fashion, walked with them and explained how the prophecies of the Old Testament all pointed to Jesus and the events which had transpired. Their hearts began to burn, and when they reached their home, they invited Him to stay with them. The story goes on to tell us something awesome about the Eucharist, but that’s not the point I wish to make here. What is the point?
Jesus aroused in the two men something they earnestly desired. Namely, they wanted the Messiah for Whom they waited, and they wanted to know they hadn’t been fools for believing Jesus was that Messiah. With fire enkindled in their hearts and enamored with the message they just heard, they desired friendship with the One who delivered it. Consider that the next time you have something worth sharing, and appreciate the potential it has to expand the group of people who consider you a friend.
A Final Point
These three steps not only make us seem friendlier. That is self-serving and misses the point. Rather, doing these things develops virtue in us and genuinely makes us friendlier people. When we actually become friendlier people, only then will people see us as friendly!