Fish prefer worms

June 10, 2011 book 2 min read

This post is part of my weekly study of How To Win Friends and Influence People.

Carnegie opens the third chapter with what may be my favorite quote from the book.

Personally I am very fond of strawberries and cream, but I have found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms.

Struck by the obviousness of this statement, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when I first read it. Carnegie goes on to say, “So when I went fishing, I didn’t think about what I wanted. I thought about what they wanted. … Why not use the same common sense when fishing for people.”

Winning friends and influencing people is, most of all, about understanding their wants, needs and desires and helping achieve them. Or in Carnegie’s words, “…the only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.”

If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.

Henry Ford

Refraining from criticism and giving appreciation does wonders to prepare you for seeing the world from other people’s perspective. I often find myself giving people the benefit of the doubt and noticing their achievements. When conflict arises, my inclination is to try to understand the source rather than find someone to blame for it.

Looking at the other person’s point of view and arousing in him an eager want for something is not to be construed as manipulating that person so that he will do something that is only for your benefit and his detriment. Each party should gain from the negotiation.

My biggest epiphany this week while being mindful of fish’s preferences is this: seeing the world from someone else’s point of view is not only about understanding it, but accepting it.

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avatar of Brandon Keepers I am Brandon Keepers, and I work at GitHub on making Open Source more approachable, effective, and ubiquitous. I tend to think like an engineer, work like an artist, dream like an astronaut, love like a human, and sleep like a baby.