In theory: How to win friends...

Emma De Vita's weekly look at management-speak.

It's human nature to want to be liked. For managers, convincing others to like you is a critical part of the job. In the voluntary sector, this skill is even more important.

Not only do you have to charm your often pitifully paid employees to go the extra mile for you, but when you don your fundraising cap you'll also be expected to schmooze other more important and wealthy people. So how to get people to like you?

Dale Carnegie, a successful public speaker and sales trainer in the post-Depression US, had a few words to say on the matter. So wise and pertinent was he on the subject that his book How To Win Friends and Influence People, first published in 1936, is still a bestseller. Journalist Toby Young's satirical autobiography, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, published six years ago, is testament to the everyday use Carnegie's book still enjoys.

Managing people is all about persuading others to do what you want them to do without them bitching about you behind your back. A manager who can pull this off is a rare thing indeed, but Carnegie advocated a set of rules that could help you achieve this. If you want people to like you, he wrote, do the following: show a genuine interest in them, be happy and positive, use their name as often as possible, listen studiously and make them feel important.

So you've followed the rules and the people in your department think you are all right? Stage two is about persuading them to do what you want them to do, even if it is unpopular - like asking someone whose birthday it is to cancel their plans and help you with the gala fundraising supper instead.

The best way to sweet-talk that person, wrote Carnegie, is by making them feel that your idea is their own. Lead them to think that the gala dinner was a sort of birthday party for them. Remind them of the free wine and canapes, then watch their eyes light up. Every cloud has a silver lining, after all.

- Emma De Vita is a senior section editor on Management Today.

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