Tuesday, August 24, 2010

DC4W: Make the Other Person Feel Important and do it Sincerely

Technique Tuesday

Continuing our on-going series on Dale Carnegie for Writers (DC4W), the sixth principle in the Six Ways to Make People Like You, the second section in How to Win Friends and Influence People, is, "Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely."

This one is a challenge, and no mistake, because it doesn't work without sincerity. Carnegie tells of a party where he was cornered by a bore. He had to look long and hard to find something he could say with sincerity, but at length he said, "You're clearly someone who is passionate about this subject, and that's something I admire."

One of the simplest ways to make someone feel important is to give honest and sincere appreciation. At the most fundamental level, an expression of appreciation acknowledges that the other person exists and is valued--the cornerstone of feeling important.

Another general approach, as illustrated by Carnegie's example, is to find something you sincerely admire about the other person and share your opinion with them.

A thoughtful note or gesture, particularly in professional relationships where such things are not expected, goes a long way to helping a person with whom you deal (like your agent, editor, or publicist) feel important in a good way. Of course, it must be sincere, which almost always means it must be personal.

So as a writer, what can you do to make people feel important?

I've seen some writers who have a knack for making each and every person in line at a signing feel important. One, for example, thanked each person and asked if he could take their picture holding the book. I'm not sure how you develop the stamina to greet the 237th person as warmly as the first, but I'm sure it's important.

And in terms of what you actually write, the best stories are told with a voice that whispers, "You, dear reader, are so important I wrote this for you."

An interesting side effect with this technique is that the more you sincerely make the other person feel important, the more important you become to them.

Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net