How to Make People Like You

Dale Carnegie, in his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, lists six methods of making people like you. Tabassum M explains five of these methods from an Islamic perspective and cite examples of

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Dale Carnegie, in his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, lists six methods of making people like you. Tabassum M explains five of these methods from an Islamic perspective and cite examples of the Prophet’s (sa) use of these methods in his own life.

 

How to Make People Like You

By Tabassum Mosleh
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“The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”

Dale Carnegie is the pioneer of the self-help genre, the author of the bestselling book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, which has sold millions of copies all over the world. He has studied thousands of biographies. Nevertheless, he seems never to have come across a biography of the best of mankind – Prophet Muhammad (sa)! Yet, such was the intellect that Allah had gifted Carnegie that he came up with some Prophetic methods of dealing with people. Here are five of the six methods that Carnegie puts forward in order to make people like you, and their application in the life of the Prophet (sa).
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1. Become genuinely interested in other people.

The key here is genuine. Cheap flattery doesn’t fool anyone. And the Prophet was the last person in the world to use it. What his life manifests is genuine interest in other people, their problems and their benefit. And no wonder, that quality is crucial in someone given the task of conveying Allah’s message and teach people how to live life in the best way. The Prophet loved humanity so much that, when he was given a wish, he reserved it for using for his ummah on the Day of Judgment:
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“Every Prophet has a (special) supplication which is answered. Verily, I have reserved mine as intercession for my nation….” (Tirmidhi, authenticated by himself)
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His concern, even for the worst of the disbelievers, was so much that Allah (swt) Himself had to tell him:
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“… perhaps you would kill yourself through grief over them if they do not believe in this message, [and] out of sorrow.” (18:6)

 

2. Smile

We see it on t-shirts and badges. We see it on Facebook. “Smile, it’s Sunnah.”
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Probably we see it in people’s faces less often, though it doesn’t cost anyone anything.
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A smile, according to Carnegie, says, “I like you. You make me happy. I am glad to see you.”
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He also quotes a Chinese proverb: “A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.”
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Here is a quote that is a hundred times better:

Every good is charity. Among the good is to meet your brother with a smiling face, and to pour what is left in your bucket into the vessel of your brother.

And guess who said this? Yes, that’s right.
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Ali (ra) says, “There was always a smile and a sign of happiness on [the Prophet’s] blessed face.” (Shamail Tirmidhi)

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3. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

Have you had those times when you’re very excited about something and want to share it, and you start the conversation with your friend (or spouse), only to be interrupted in the middle of it by something far less important, at least to you? The message which this imparts is: “What I’ve got to say is more valuable that your stupid patter. So shut up and listen to me.”
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So, if we want to make real friends, we must be a person who other people find comfort in speaking to. And that was the personality of the Prophet (sa). When people conversed with him, he would pay full attention to them, so much so that he would physically turn towards him.

Ali (ra) said, “He did not interrupt someone talking and did not begin speaking when someone else was busy speaking.” (Shamail Tirmidhi 351)
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One time he didn’t pay attention, and for a good reason too. He was speaking to some of the elites of Makkah, in order to convince them to accept Islam. And their accepting Islam would mean a great turn of the balance of power towards the Muslim minority in Makkah. So when a blind Muslim came calling to the Prophet in the middle of it, he frowned. And verses of Quran came down admonishing him:

 

[The Prophet] frowned and turned away, because there came to him the blind man, [interrupting]…. (80)
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Just by being a good listener, you can cure many cases of mental disorders such as depression and bulimia. Sometimes all a person needs is an attentive ear, and lending that ear is immensely rewarding in terms of happiness, both in this world and in the Hereafter.

 

4. Talk in terms of the other man’s interest.

There is a branch of Arabic studies that is called ‘ilm al-Balaghah, which solely consists of the study of speech in terms of suitability and compatibility with the audience and the situation. The Quran is at the pinnacle of balaghah. And so we find half of surah al-Adiyaat talking about horses, which were the Formula 1 of the Arabs at that time. We also find the Quran’s words directed towards Jews to consist of Jewish history.

“The royal road to a man’s heart”, Carnegie paraphrases Roosevelt, “is to talk to him about the things he treasures most.”
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The Prophet (sa) was asked by many of his Companions about the best good deeds. Interestingly, almost every time his answer would be different. For example, he said to one person the best deed is “to stand in prayer for a long time” (Abu Dawud, authentic), to another “prayer in the beginning of its time” (Tirmidhi, authentic), “jihad” (Nasai, authentic) etc. In short, he would talk to the other person in terms of his strengths and weaknesses, and what would work best for him personally.

 

5. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

Each human being is a mixture of strengths and weaknesses, good and bad qualities. If we search properly, we’re bound to find some good in any person. It is not our job to judge people’s weaknesses, but to appreciate and encourage their strengths. As Eemrson said, “Every man I meet is in some way my superior; and in that I can learn from him.”
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The Prophet (sa) said, None of you will have faith till he wishes for his (Muslim) brother what he likes for himself.” (Sahih al-Bukhari) If we want others to give us importance, why don’t we start by doing the same for others?

The Prophet (sa) would make his companions feel important to such a degree that each of them felt that they were special to the Prophet. It led ‘Amr ibn al-‘As in an embarrassing situation. He asked the Prophet, “O Messenger of Allah, am I better or is Abu Bakr better?” He replied: “Abu Bakr.”
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“Am I better, or ‘Umar?”
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“Umar”
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“Am I better or ‘Uthmaan?”
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“Uthmaan.”
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‘Amr said, “When I asked him these questions, [the Prophet (sa)] told me the truth. I felt I should not have asked such a question”. (Shamail Tirmidhi)

 

Just before the conquest of Makkah, Abu Sufyan, knowing what was to come, came out to meet the Prophet and embrace Islam. He was the chief of the Prophet’s enemies at the time, and yet the Prophet wanted to preserve his dignity in the face of the imminent defeat. So the Prophet issued this verdict for those who had persecuted the Muslims for years: “Who enters the house of Abu Sufyan will be safe.” (Muslim)
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Even when someone talked harshly to him, the Prophet would calmly bear him. “If he did not agree with the next person’s wish he did not make that person feel disheartened, nor did he promise anything to that person…. He did not disgrace or insult anyone, nor look for the faults of others, he only spoke that from which reward was attained.” (Shamail Tirmidhi)
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One day, the Prophet (sa) noticed that Thabit bin Qais had disappeared. On inquiring about him, he was brought the news that Thabit was, in his own words, in “an evil situation: A man used to raise his voice over the voice of the Prophet (sa) and so all his good deeds have been annulled and he is from the people of Hell.”
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The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Go and say to Thabit: ‘You are not from the people of Fire, but from the people of Paradise.’” (Sahih al-Bukhari)

 

Tabassum M is a freelance writer and a student of al-Salam Institute. She likes playing with animals, watching natural beauties, reading novels and researching interesting topics. She shares her reflections at the blog sections of Understand Quran Academy, IIPH and Ibana. Contact: tabassum_mosleh@hotmail.com

 

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