Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Self Help Books...

The publishing industry makes an enormous amount of money publishing self-help books. From promising to make you thin, to outlining your route to fame and fortune, you can find self-help books on pretty much any topic - written by authors with varying degrees of credibility.

I'm not a huge advocate of self-help books, but there have been three that have had a definite impact on my life and so I thought I'd mentioned them here.

Raising Your Interest Levels

When I was younger, my father bought me a book by Edward De Bono called "How to Be More Interesting" - which certainly raised a few interesting questions at the time (i.e. 'Hey, Dad. Are you implying I'm boring?')

But actually, it turned out to be a very good guide not to becoming more interesting yourself, but using a few simple techniques to become interested (or at least animated about) any topic under the sun.

Basically, you could sit down at a dinner party next to anybody - Donald Trump or Ted the Dustman - and use the techniques De Bono outlined to stimulate a conversation about what interests them. By asking intelligent questions about the things they liked talking about, you automatically cultivate the impression of being 'more interesting' - at least to them!

Raising Other People's Interest Levels

My brief career as a Lothario was inspired by a book I bought myself after leaving university, called How to Make Anyone Fall in Love with You by Leil Lowndes.

This book outlines the science behind attraction - and how somebody in the know can manipulate it. From adjusting your body language to adopting a different way of communicating (mirroring people's words) and even unlocking the power of eye contact, Leil's book explains how to go about making yourself more attractive to the opposite sex.

Remarkably, some of the tricks and science in Leil's book worked - but more remarkable than the romantic successes I had with it were the vanilla ones. Leil's book actually contains pages and pages of positive body-language advice that can help you just appear instantly - and wordlessly - more likable to anybody - not just a potential romantic partner.

Raising Youself

One book I wish I'd read a decade ago is Dale Carnigie's famous How to Win Friends & Influence People. First published in 1937, this book is the daddy of all self-help literature and has sold over 15 million copies, sticking on the New York Times bestseller list for an entire decade.

The success of Carnigie's wonderful book stems from following his own advice within it's pages. Carnigie outlines the essential way to motivate anybody to do something - by cultivating their desire (instead of nagging or threatening them.) It's by instilling that desire that Carnigie succeeds in getting the reader to embrace the very simple guidelines he suggests for interacting with your fellow man.

Don't criticise or complain. Give honest appreciation and interest. Avoid arguments. Simple ideas - 'no-brainers,' almost - that we're all too often willing to ignore to pursue our own ends.

By reading and following Carnigie's advice, you don't just become a more likable and influential person. I honestly believe you actually become a better person. Or, at least, one who's more aware of the world around him and the motivations of people you interact with.


There are so many self-help books out there - some with big name endorsements (who's Oprah sponsoring this week) or famous authors or celebrity names attached.

When it comes to well written, practical and effective books, however, I can't recommend these three highly enough. I can't promise they'll change your life - the only person who can do that is you. What they can do, however, is deliver practical, helpful advice in a concise and entertaining way. At the end of the day, that's all a self-help book needs to do - hence the 'self' in the title.


Anonymous said...

well, i'll try anything at this point, Roland!! :)

Hope you had a great weekend, my dear!

BritGal' Sarah said...

Very interesting Roland, thanks for the recommendations

Linda said...

Hi Roland,

Thanks for the book rec's. While I've read Carnegie, I hadn't heard of the other two.

"How to be more Interesting" sounds like it may focus on a person being an active listener, but I will have to read it and see for myself.

I just finished a book that would fall into this category called The Woman's Field Guide to Exceptional Lliving by Corrie Woods. It is a little book with a lot of heart and is loaded with practical things I can (and will) do now to recognize and follow my true callings. I think it would speak to most women, whether they are busy professionals, stay-at-home moms, or empty nesters.

Anyway, just my way of giving back.


Quantum_Flux said...

Easy on the winning friends and influincing people there Roland, people might think you're gay....

Anyhow, yeah, I read it at one time, here are my notes along with some other things I've decided belonged:

Inner peace is found when the mind resolves its internal conflicts, and self-confidence radiates when the body and mind are working together ambitiously to achieve a set of lifelong goals.

How to treat people:
Never criticize, condemn or complain about people. When people are judged they become very defensive, and this will turn even your friends into enemies. Therefore, judge not lest ye be judged.

In order to motivate people to do anything for you, you must first reveal how it will be beneficial to them. By revealing the benefits of certain actions, you can arouse desires and instill new motives in people. Conversely, it is greedy and nearly impossible to make people do anything which is only to your benefit.

Always show sincere appreciation and praise for a job well done for this encourages further excellence and friendly cooperation, and be honest when somebody has fallen short to because this will let people know where they need to improve.
~~~~RULE from It’s Your Ship:
à If they come up short, then get it out in the open with them immediately:
à Maybe you just need to provide some form of instructional training for them
à If they already have had the training, then perhaps you need to give them a deadline by which time they need to improve their technique or else there will be some form of consequences.
à When you warn them about the consequences of not improving by the given deadlines, be sure that you are clear and specific with what they are going to be, and be sure to carry them out if there hasn’t been the level of improvement that you were expecting of them.

In order to win people over to you:
Always smile and walk upright for this is a symbol of happiness and well being. If you’re happy and content with yourself, then people around you will want to share your joy and good humor.

Remembering people’s names is extremely important and easy to do, you just have to take the time. Always try to use people’s real names whenever it is possible to do so. Nicknames are not as good as the real thing.

Always express a genuine interest in other people. People are generally more interested in talking about themselves and their accomplishments than listening to what you have to say. When you meet people, always be a good listener and encourage them to talk about themselves. Listening to what other people have to say about themselves makes it easier for you to warm up to them and visa versa.

Always talk in terms of other people’s interests. Talking about something that the other person is interested in always makes for good conversation. If you know nothing about the subject, then ask questions about it, this is a good opportunity to learn something new and maybe pick up a new interest.

Always make people feel genuinely important. When you make other people feel important, they will accept you and what you say to them as important in return.

How to influence people with you ideas:
Arguments never get people to change their mind. Arguing causes people to defend themselves at all possible costs. Nobody likes being proved wrong for this is a major stomp on their dignity. People will remain unconvinced and ever firmer in their original positions when their dignity is put on the line. Arguing creates enemies and makes it impossible to sway people to your way of thinking.

Avoid arguments with people whenever possible. If a disagreement is brought up between you and someone else, however, then it is important for you to remain objective. The hard facts and data don’t lie, and therefore nobody can argue with them. Unfortunately, however, nobody can remember what all the facts are, and it is important not to make up any facts as you‘re going along. So, get the partner to explain what it is that he disagrees with you on by asking questions. Always look for and emphasize the areas that are agreeable in that person’s explanations. Apologize for any mistakes you might have made in the conversation and promise to think over these new ideas and study them carefully.

à Don’t argue with the experts, however, but ask them to explain it to you because they obviously know more of the facts than you do, and they can usually school you in any argument that is based on the theoretical extrapolation of the facts that they are familiar with.

à This obviously doesn’t work for religions or subjects where the beliefs are based on faith or superstition rather than on the facts.
A) If you can see that certain irrational beliefs are hindering somebody’s thought process and it doesn’t hurt you to bring it up with them (and you want to help them or school them), then point out that their beliefs aren’t grounded in fact and therefore they are believing in something that is irrational, which is usually always the case. This will only work if you have some idea about how to refute them without being overly intrusive.
B) If somebody’s irrational beliefs are hindering you, then it is important to evaluate the situation and come to a rational decision what you are going to do about it.
~You can use the law in your defense if they are doing something illegal.
~ It may be possible to tactfully make them doubt what they believe, or not.
~ You could come out and bluntly state that they are wrong for doing that if you are prepared to live with the consequences of your actions if it backfires.
~ Once again, you may need further evaluation in order to decide what to do.

State your beliefs, opinions, and recalled facts in a non-authoritative manner if you happen to be unsure about the subject matter being discussed. Tell people that you’re not 100% sure of what you are about to say or specify that it is a theory, and then explain your thinking on how something goes “….” Phrasing things in a non-authoritative manner will cause people to think more critically about what you’ve said, and maybe they will be able to shed some light or add something more to the conversation without causing an argument to ensue. The great Socrates once taught something along the lines of, “One thing only I know is that I know very little when compared to the collective body of knowledge.”

If you’ve done something wrong, you should apologize first before that person has a chance to bring it up. This will take the fight out of the accuser and will speed up the process of forgive and forget.
à A simple apology can prevent something as big as a lawsuit or as small as a grudge, but it doesn’t always work, duh!
à In most situations, you’re not obligated to apologize for what you’ve done because
A) It is such a small thing that the person isn’t even bothered by it
B) That person doesn’t even notice what you’ve done
C) What you’ve done was a legal move and they deserved it (like firing them)

Always open up conversations in a friendly and helpful manner. People won’t despise anyone whom genuinely acts as their friend. Conversely, never open up conversations in an unfriendly and demanding manner. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.”

In order to talk convincingly, the other person should always agree with as many points you make as possible. If you start up a conversation with a “yes...yes...yes-attitude,” then it will psychologically cause that person to be in a state of agreement. The more yes-momentum that is built up early in the conversation, the less likely you are to strike a disagreement. In contrast, starting off with a disagreeable point will be detrimental to the overall purpose of winning people over to your point of view.

Encourage others to express their thoughts and ideas while you listen with an open mind. People are always thrilled to talk about and express their own thoughts or ideas. If someone tells you an idea that doesn’t make sense, then ask them how they arrived at that conclusion. Some people have very good ideas that you would have not thought of by yourself. If you listen to other people’s ideas with an open mind, they may even want to return the favor and listen to your thoughts and ideas.
à Ask successful people about their life’s achievements, for this is always of value to you.

People are fond of their own ideas just as you are fond of your own ideas. The reason that you’re fond of your own ideas is because you came up with them. People won’t just accept your ideas because they’re handed to them on a silver platter. If you really want people to accept your ideas, you must tactfully help them arrive at the same conclusions. This is done by making suggestions that lead them through the same line of reasoning and to the same conclusion at which you already have arrived. Ultimately, they should think that they thought of your idea before they will accept it.

The ability to see things from someone else’s point of view is a valuable asset towards gaining someone’s respect for you. By talking in a way that relates to other people’s perception, you can change their mind on extremely important issues. You can help them perceive it from your point of view.

Sometimes it is necessary to sympathize with people to get them to do what they don’t feel like doing. People need to know that the benefits from doing something largely outweigh the hardships involved and that you know the hardships involved. Let them know how you would feel if you were in their situation.

All people have the basic desire to do what’s right. Always make people feel as they are noble and honest in their hearts and instill in them a sense of trustworthiness. When you do this, they will appeal to the noble motives that have been seeded in their minds.

Always reveal the positive effects of your ideas as they appeal to the senses with a sense of showmanship. People want to buy a car after they’ve seen it in action in commercials. Similarly, people want to accept your ideas if they see some dramatized showmanship.

Sometimes, proposing a direct challenge is the best way to get people striving to do better. If the challenge is accepted, then it may be the best way to show off your good ideas. If you win the challenge, you won your idea over.
à these people are the best to work with

How to become a good leader:
Being a good leader means influencing people’s attitude and behaviors without arousing resentment. In order to be a leader, you must be able to think on your feet and be able to speak appealingly to the majority of people.

If you must point out people’s errors, you must acknowledge what they did good first and foremost. This will make them more receptive to what you are about to tell them.

Then let them know that everybody makes mistakes, including even you. Draw their attention to a mistake that you made which is similar to the mistake they made for this will make your demeanor seem less threatening. When people don’t feel threatened, they will be more open.

When you tell people what they did wrong, don’t tell them directly but call attention to it indirectly. Start with a complement or two on other aspects of their performance, and then bring their shortcomings to their attention.

People don’t like taking direct orders, so don’t give them direct orders. Instead, explain to people why certain tasks need to be done, and then ask them nicely to do these things. When people know the importance of these certain tasks, they will gladly do them.

Always be considerate towards other people’s feelings and let them save face when you have to make difficult decisions. When people know they’re getting the best out of certain situations, they will be happy.

Always give praise for a job well done, for this encourages further cooperation and excellence. People will improve without bounds when they receive honest praises for even the slightest improvements in their abilities.

Many successful people succeed because of one person’s honest opinion. If you tell people that they have it in them to do spectacular things with their lives, they will strive to achieve most remarkable things. With modest encouragement, some people will succeed where all others have failed.

People never like to be regarded as below average or as underachievers by others. With a little encouragement, people will strive to prove others wrong. Failing students will become A and B students when you encourage them to study harder and do better.

Make people happy to do certain tasks for you by letting them know the benefits and maybe even giving them an incentive to do it.

Quantum_Flux said...

Oh yeah, some of that in there is from "It's Your Ship" and some of it's from "How to Win Friends..."

Meghan said...

I think I'll get the one on attracting people.

Surprising as it may seem, throwing my legs around my head isn't inviting the most savory company my way.