Thursday, May 8, 2008

22 Principles of Successful Relationships

“The most important single ingredient to the formula of success
is knowing how to get along with people.” –Teddy Roosevelt

Studies reveal that the principles of getting along with and influencing people contribute greatly to achieving success. In his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie states, “Investigations revealed that even in such technical lines as engineering, about 15 percent of one’s financial success is due to one’s technical knowledge and about 85 percent is due to skill in human engineering – to personality and the ability to lead people.” He continues, “One can, for example, hire mere technical ability in engineering, accountancy, architecture or any other profession at nominal salaries. But the person who has technical knowledge plus the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people – that person is headed for higher earning power. In the heyday of his activity, John D. Rockefeller said that ‘the ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee.’ And I will pay more for that ability,’ said John D., ‘than for any other under the sun.’”

The ability to get along with and influence people is vital to our success in all aspects of life and yet schools and universities focus little if any attention on developing interpersonal and leadership skills. Since our educational systems spend little time developing students’ abilities to influence people, the wise individual will find the resources and spend the time necessary to develop these abilities. Below are 22 principles that will help you cultivate your relationships.

1. Be a Person of Integrity
Keeping commitments is vital to having a successful relationship. There is nothing more damaging to a relationship than to make a promise that is important to someone and then to not keep that promise. Breaking commitments destroys trust and reliability. To be successful with people, you must adopt a philosophy of never making a promise you cannot or will not keep. Occasionally, despite all our best efforts, the unexpected does come up, creating a situation where it would be unwise or impossible to keep a promise. In this case, you should either keep the promise anyway or explain the situation to the person you committed to and then ask to be released from the promise. You should never tell the person you can’t keep the promise. You should ask to be released from your commitment. If they will not release you from your commitment, then you should follow through. Consider your word as a sacred bond not to be broken.

2. Personal Success Precedes Success with Others
Most of our success with others results from whom we are—our character. Therefore, a more permanent and powerful means of learning to succeed with people is changing ourselves rather than learning tactics of human influence. The true source of virtually all of our failures with people actually resides within us. When we find the flaw inside ourselves that damages how we deal with people, we not only resolve the problem facing us at the moment, but we also prevent future problems of the same nature from happening again.

3. Value Differences
To succeed with people you must value the mental, emotional, and psychological differences that exist among people. The key to valuing differences is to realize that people do not see the world as it is, but as they are. A person who is truly effective with people has the humility to recognize his own perceptual limitations and to appreciate the rich resources available through interaction with the hearts and minds of other people. Others add to your knowledge and to your understanding of reality. Is it possible for two people to disagree and both be right? Yes. For example, in a room the temperature may be 70 degrees and one individual will say it is cold while the other will say it is hot. Is the room hot or is the room cold? Which of these two individuals is right? Does one have to be right and one wrong? No, both are right from their perspective. It would be silly for the individual that was hot to tell the person who was cold that he was wrong or stupid since he thought it was cold. Until we value the differences in our perceptions and give credence to the possibility that we’re both right, we will struggle in our relationships.

4. Don’t Gossip
There is a tendency for people to say negative comments about those around them and to gossip about the faults of others. Don't be a part of it. If you say negative things about individuals not present, you are sending a message to those who are present that you would do the same to them. The way to gain the respect and loyalty of those present is to be respectful and loyal to those who are not present.

If constructive criticism is necessary for a specific person, it should be done in private with love and with the intent of helping the individual. Don't correct a person in front of others. Also, while giving feedback, talk about what the person does well, what you like about them, and even talk about your own mistakes before correcting theirs.

5. Give Sincere Compliments
People need and want to be complimented. Compliments bring out the best efforts in people by uplifting and motivating them. Even if people make mistakes, focus on their successful efforts, and compliment them on those items. The natural tendency is to tell people what they did wrong. This will result in a decrease of motivation and performance. Encouragement and compliments are a much more effective teaching device than criticism, so always look for opportunities to compliment those around you.

6. Edify Others
The tongue is a powerful tool for good or evil. Your words can be used to build or to destroy others. Choose to build those around you.

I watch them tearing a building down,
A gang of men in a busy town,
With a ho heave ho and a lusty yell,
They swung a beam and a side wall fell
And I asked the foreman, “Are these men skilled,
The men he’d hire if he had to build?”
He gave a laugh and said, “No indeed,
Just common labor’s all I need.
I can easily wreak in a day or two
What builders have taken a year to do.”
I asked myself as I went my way,
Which of these roles have I tried to play.
Am I builder who works with care,
Measuring life with a rule and square?
Or am I wrecker who walks the town,
Content with the labor of tearing down.
-Author Unknown

7. Smile
Actions speak louder than words and a smile says, “I like you. You make me happy. I'm glad to see you.” People who smile tend to manage and teach more effectively.

8. Remember Names
Remembering a person’s name and using it regularly is a subtle and very effective compliment. Forget or misspell a name and you have placed yourself at a sharp disadvantage. Take the time and effort to memorize the names of each person with whom you associate. When someone tells you their name, make sure you heard it correctly. Then memorize it by repeating it in your mind, associating it with something, and when possible, write it down. (Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People, New York: Pocket Books, 1982, p. 75-83)

9. If Offended, Take the Initiative
Often when we are offended, our tendency is to wait for the offender to offer an apology or to at least acknowledge that he or she has wronged us. If the apology does not come, we allow our wounds to fester, and bitterness and resentment spread through our souls like poison. We then not only have a strained relationship, but a bitter soul as well. Nelson Mandela taught, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” Often times if you take the initiative to clear things up, the issue can be resolved quickly.

10. Return Good for Evil
We have a natural tendency to treat others as they treat us. If someone is mean to us, we are mean to them in return. If someone is nice to us, we are nice to them. If someone hates us, we hate them. If someone shows us love, we love them. If someone helps us, we want to help them. The Savior teaches us not to respond in the natural way of returning good for good and evil for evil. He instead teaches us to always respond to others with goodness. The Savior taught, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if a man sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:38-40, 43, 44, King James Version)

My wife, Paula, is one of the most loving, friendly, outgoing people I know. A couple of years ago, my wife was in a car accident. She was stopped at a traffic light when a person three cars back failed to stop causing a four-car accident. My wife did not have her insurance information with her. When I arrived with the insurance information, the police were taking statements and information. The drivers of the other damaged cars were upset and angry, but Paula was happy and making friends. Paula went up to the driver responsible for the accident and gave her a hug and said, “You need a present.” My wife then gave her two tickets to a local college football game taking place on the upcoming Saturday. The girl said in shock, “I damaged your car and caused you and your baby a great deal of stress, and you’re giving me a present?” Driving can only cause us frustration and anger if we choose to respond that way.

11. Follow the Golden Rule
“Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” (Matthew 7:12, King James Version)

12. Sacrifice for the Person
Sacrifice is a demonstration of love. When we are willing to forego something we have, want or could have for another person’s benefit, we increase in love for that person.

13. Make Time for People
Perhaps time is the greatest thing we have to give someone we love. Spending time with people gives us the opportunity to cultivate and express our love for others. Many times expressions of genuine love come following time spent together. When we share experiences, joys, sorrows, struggles, and challenge together, we grow closer together. When we demonstrate our willingness to make time available for others, we say to them “I am willing to give you the most precious thing I have – my time. I do this because I love you and you are important to me.”

14. Accept the Person as He or She Is
We will never fully love a person until we can accept the individual as he or she is. This doesn’t mean we agree with nor accept the person’s behavior but it does mean that our love for them in not conditional on performance or behaviors. As we increase in ability to accept the person as he or she is and genuinely communicate that acceptance to him or her, we will increase in love for that person.

15. Tell the Individual, “I Love You!”
When we genuinely communicate verbally to another person, “I love you!” there is an emotional reaction heart to heart which causes each person to realize that love exists. The act is complete when the person responds genuinely back, “I love you too.” We increase in our ability to love through verbal expression.

16. Serve Others
All you have to do is help other people obtain their goals and you will obtain your goals. Learn to be a servant, and you will learn to be successful. It was the birthday of a mother of several children. The children one by one began to present the gifts to their mother. It was now the youngest boy’s turn. He had been given a silver platter to give to his mother. He begins to approach his mother with his gift when he realized that the platter was empty. He then set the platter in front of his mother and stood upon it and said, “I give you me.” Give the greatest gift you can. Give yourself.

17. Listen and Be Understanding
What would happen if right now all the air was taken out of the room you are currently in? What would happen to your interest in this book? Air is a fundamental physical need, and until that need is met you will not be interested in anything else. However, once you have fulfilled the need for air, your interests can shift to other things. What is the emotional and psychological equivalent of air? It is the need to be understood. Why? Because when you understand another, you fulfill many basic human needs. When you understand a person, you have accepted them. When you listen to understand a person, you are saying, “You are important and I care about you. You are a person worth listening to; a person of significance; a person that matters.”

A study was done to see what people desired in a potential partner. Understanding was the number one characteristic desired by women and the number two characteristic desired by men. If you desire to communicate effectively with another, you must first understand them. How do we understand another? By listening. “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is a folly and shame unto him.” (Proverbs 18:13, King James Version) Many of your problems with people with disappear and your relationships will be greatly strengthened if you will learn the simple skill of listening. As Gandhi once said, “Three-fourths of the miseries and misunderstanding in the world will disappear if we step into the shoes of our adversaries and understand their standpoint.”

18. Inspire Teamwork
Napoleon Hill taught, “There is no record of anyone ever having made a great contribution to civilization without cooperation of others.” (Napoleon Hill’s Keys to Success, New York: Plume, 1997, p. 154) In order to inspire teamwork, you must be filled with enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is contagious. “Infect others with your enthusiasm, and teamwork will be the inevitable result.” (Napoleon Hill, Napoleon Hill’s Keys to Success, New York: Plume, 1997, p. 155)

19. See People with an Eye of Faith
Don’t treat people in terms of their behavior, but rather in terms of their potential—in terms of what they can become. Goethe put it this way, “Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is; treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.”

20. Be Teachable
“If we operate with the assumption that we do not have all the answers or insights, we allow ourselves to value the different viewpoints, judgments, and experiences others may bring. When we approach others with open minds, and are willing to be taught, we learn that the key to influence is to allow ourselves to be influenced.” (Blain Lee, The Power Principle, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997, p. 132)

21. Give Hugs
“Hugging is healthy. It helps the immune system, cures depression, reduces stress and induces sleep. It’s invigorating, rejuvenating and has no unpleasant side effects. Hugging is nothing less than a miracle drug. Hugging is an underutilized resource with magical powers.” (Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, 1993, p. 17-18)

22. Be a Friend
Success with people can be summarized in one word—friendship. Successful people cultivate strong, loving friendships. They are not masters or dictators. They are friends and servants to those around them. They make sure that others’ needs are their highest priority. Christ was a friend to those he worked with. In speaking to the New Testament disciples, Jesus said, “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends.” (John 15:15, King James Version)

The most successful people are those who are friends to others. It is not surprising to see children who are more influenced by their friends than by their parents. It is not surprising to see employees who are more influenced by their friends at work than by their bosses. It’s not surprising to see church members who are more influenced by their friends than by their leaders. If parents, bosses, and church leaders desire to influence others, they must first cultivate friendships.

Often we try to improve our relationships by learning new tactics of influence, or we use new methods of interacting with people, many of which are needed and helpful. However, I would suggest that if you know how to be a true friend, you know how to succeed with people.

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