How to Win Friends and Influence People: The Experiment

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“How to Win Friends and Influence People” was written by Dale Carnegie in 1936. Since then, it has sold more than 15 million copies and is still in circulation—and used—today.

The concepts in the book have been proven to be successful over and over. By demonstrating the concepts in the book, and adapting to its ideology, a person can win others over to their way of thinking. The concept behind the book is that by using these tools, you leave an impression on people; one where they are forced to walk away saying “Wow, that person was so cool,” but they’re not entirely sure why.

Those are ballsy statements. I’ve read the book and used the tools, but never actively recorded my findings. Along with the help of my three cutest guy friends, I was able to win over a group of girls using the tools, and then made them indifferent to my presence. It’s just science, peopleThe six tips the book gives to make people like you are:

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
  2. Smile.
  3. Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest sound.
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.
  6. Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely

To prove that these concepts work, I used a controlled variable—the same group of people—to test my hypothesis, which is that these concepts work in they way the book says they do. I did so by using these six tools in a social setting, and then, on the same people at a later time, I completely abandoned the concepts to see how they would react or behave toward me.

Setting the Scene:

Some of my friends, (three guys) and I decided to go to a hookah lounge. After talking for 30 minutes, one of them noticed a group of four girls sitting in the corner, and he decided to invite them to bring their hookah over to our table.

Using the six tools:

Immediately when they sat down, I was the first to jump up, introduce myself and greet them with a smile—Tip 2.  I actually purposely did this before the guys were able to get a word in to show I was excited to meet them and set the tone for the experiment. I asked all four of their names and then repeated them within the first five minutes to make sure I had them all correct—Tip 3.

If we are being honest, the girls obviously came over to our table to meet the cute boys. They could have cared less if I was there. However, there was an odd number of the guy-to-girl ratio in the group, which played to my advantage, because when one of them was awkwardly sitting there waiting patiently for their turn to flirt with one of the boys, it was easy to make them feel comfortable, exemplifying how these tools work in the first place.

It was easy to ask them questions and get them to talk about themselves—Tip 4. We talked for about two to three hours, and by the end of the night, they had invited all of us to their house for a game night they had planned for the coming weekend. (I can also now tell you personal details about each of them, for example: where they grew up, where they are going to school, why they are not in school, their relationship statuses, their relationship with their parents, their ages, favorite foods, etc. They even gave all four of us a ride home so we didn’t have to pay for a cab!)

Background Information:

I hadn’t planned to use this group of girls for both sides of the experiment. However, I ended up losing my keys in the car of the girl who drove us home. Before I had even noticed that my keys were gone, the owner of the car called and offered to meet us at the restaurant we went to for tacos. (OK, it was Filibertos. I can feel your judgment.)

Using the same group of people in a different environment, allowed me to really see if the tools worked, or if it just worked on a particular group of people. I was able to see their reaction (if any) to both experiments.

Without using the tools:

Beyond being extremely grateful for my keys, I didn’t go out of my way to smile or ask questions. I didn’t go out of my way to encourage them to talk about themselves and I didn’t go out of my way to make them feel important. Let me also say that I wasn’t rude or mean—I invited them to get tacos, and hang out with us for a bit—but I didn’t lead the conversation. I let them carry it to see where it would go. I had only gone with one of the boys to get food, so it wasn’t that the four girls were too busy competing for his attention.

The girls were basically uninterested in my presence. I could have gotten up and left and it felt like they wouldn’t have cared; the complete opposite from just an hour earlier. When I spoke to them and used their name, their faces would light up. They liked that I made them feel important, but who doesn’t?

When I didn’t do these things, attention was shifted from a casual conversation to talking to the boy I was with. Don’t get me wrong, I was not rude and they were not rude—there was just no interest in each other after I didn’t show extreme interest in them.

Note: One of the tools is to be genuinely interested. I had so much success because I was actually genuinely interested. The book states that people can tell the difference, and they can.

Meet the ladies:

Mason

Mason seemed to be more outgoing person in the group. Ahe also seemed to be the only one aware of the change in my “attitude,” although it wasn’t a change in my attitude at all—it was just the lack of attention or interest I was giving her. At one point, as a song played outside the restaurant, the girls began to rap to it (No, I wouldn’t have been amused anyway, but at least I didn’t have to pretend that I was) and she instantly said, “Guys, I don’t think they care that we know this song.” (I didn’t.)

Ashley

Ashley was from my hometown in California. It was easy to be interested in what she had to say and to encourage her to talk about herself. I could easily guide the conversation and ask questions about schools, parks, places that were frequently visited, and she loved to talk about it. It was also easy then to encourage her to share other details about her boyfriend, school and her parents.

Jade

Jade sat in the middle and was already a very open person, but she loved telling me about her job at a coffee shop and how she had to be up at 4 a.m. to be at work. She was not as aware in my lack of using the tips, but she didn’t seem to feel obligated to carry on a conversation with me if I didn’t bring anything up, ask her questions or guide the conversation.

Jamie

Jamie sat the farthest away from me, and in the loud hookah lounge, it was a tad difficult to get her attention. But, while the other girls talked to the guys, it was an easy excuse for her to lean across the group to talk to me. We talked about why she isn’t going to school right now, what she is doing in the meantime and what it’s like to all live together with the other girls in the group.

Using a controlled variable—the same four girls—I was able to make the experiment more pronounced. It would be easy to say some people react to the six tools and some people don’t, but to show that one group of people could be so greatly affected is the greatest testament to the book and anyone’s ability to execute its rules.

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