Why your clients need to feel important

In the beginning of chapter 2 in How to Win Friends and Influence People, there’s a line that says, “the deepest urge in human nature is the desire to be important.” Carnegie suggests that as we read we should remember this phrase, “…‘the desire to be important.’ It’s significant. You are going to hear it a lot in this book.

This chapter, titled “The Big Secret To Dealing With People” will likely be one that you will want to read and re-read several times to really grasp the depth of the message. But what is this big secret?

It is this: there is only one way to get anyone to do anything – by making them want to do it.

How do you make them want to do it? You make them feel important.

How do you make them feel important? You give them honest and sincere appreciation.

There are many things that a human wants. Once the basic needs of food, water, shelter, sleep, and health are taken care of, we naturally move on to things like money and the things it will buy, love (and sex!), happiness and well-being for our children and lastly, a feeling of importance.

Most people find a way to get the things they want and need, but that illusive feeling of importance isn’t something you can buy in a shop. You can’t buy self-esteem (just imagine if you could…scary!). Your feeling of importance comes straight from who you are, and what you do and how you’re treated by those around you. It’s built into your character and like many other things in life, it needs nourishment. And herein lies the paradox: it is incredibly difficult {almost impossible, unless you’re Dwight Schrute} to feel important without getting appreciation, and that has to come from other people. And it doesn’t come often enough.

“We nourish the bodies of our children and friends and employees, but how seldom do we nourish their self-esteem? We provide them with roast beef and potatoes to build energy, but we neglect to give them kind words of appreciation that would sing in their memories for years like the music of the morning stars.” -Dale Carnegie

Why, then, is it so difficult for us to lavish appreciation on the people we deal with every day? If everybody wants and needs it, appreciation should be part of our daily language. Some of the most successful leaders in history had this built in to their character; their natural ability to deal with and inspire people to do their best came from their intrinsic knowledge that people need appreciation and encouragement to thrive. Carnegie reminds us so eloquently that, “In our interpersonal relations we should never forget that all our associates are human beings and hunger for appreciation. It is the legal tender that all souls enjoy.”

You might be thinking – “…But I do give people appreciation every day.” Perhaps, yes, but don’t forget there is a difference between appreciation and flattery. Carnegie describes flattery as “cheap praise”, and he goes on to say “If all we had to do was flatter, everybody would catch on and we should all be experts in human relations.”

So what exactly should you should do to appreciate the people you deal with? Use kindness whenever you can, learn about them – find out what makes them tick, discover their character and their skills, and give them honest appreciation for the way they do those things.

If you can see the talent and skill in other people, unmarred by your own self-doubt, you will find it easy to give honest and sincere appreciation whenever it is needed.

{your business}

As a business person whose clients are real, warm-blooded people how can you use this information to better your relations? Here are a few things that come to mind – some of the things I took away from this chapter and began implementing into my business and personal life…

Take an interest in people, not just for the business you do with them, but for who they are. Sure, your images will wow them. Sure, you’ll be superb at providing them with the service and products they came to you for. But if you really want to surprise and delight your clients {and leave them feeling important} then ask them about them. Take note of beautiful things about them, their families, their home. Take an extra moment at your sales session to get off the subject at hand and just make them feel important. I love asking clients about their house decorating choices and their travels and where they dream of going next. In this fast paced, internet based life in which we live, we don’t often enough have others taking an interest in us. I guarantee that if I was in need of a photographer, I would find the one who pays attention to me and I wouldn’t let them go.

Let’s finish with this quote from Emerson, “Every man is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him.”

Other posts in this series:

  1. Introduction
  2. The customer is always right {even if it’s Al Capone}
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