Friday, 30 June 2006

Sometimes I can't help but think (and feel) that I can be a crappy friend at times. I might not get it in my face, but one can tell from other people's paralanguage - I think I can, anyway. I know I can't be your best friend, but I can try to be a good friend or just friend. Heck, I make a GREAT acquaintance - an acquaintance whose name no one ever remembers due to lack of proper introductions.

What does the word "friend" mean anyway? We use the word so often, how many of us actually remember the definition of the word? I actually don't quite remember, so I had to look it up on Wikipedia, and here's what it says:

"a relationship which involves mutual knowledge, esteem, and affection. Friends will welcome each other's company and exhibit loyalty towards each other, often to the point of altruism. Their tastes will usually be similar and may converge, and they will share enjoyable activities. They will also engage in mutually helping behavior, such as exchange of advice and the sharing of hardship. A friend is someone who may often demonstrate reciprocating and reflective behaviors. Yet for many, friendship is nothing more than the trust that someone or something will not harm them."
I guess the main reason I think I'm a crappy friend is because I don't make myself available to other people when they need it. Unfortunately I'm not one of those people who would pursue something when I feel that there's something wrong with someone - it's just that I believe that if you want to tell me, you'll tell me; I'm not one to poke and prod, trying to weasel the information out of you. However, if you need some help and if it's within my capacity to do so, I'll be there. When I hesitate, it usually means that it's not within my capacity to help and I'm thinking of other ways to help you.

I'm at that point in my life where if I end up with good friends, good for me; and won't give a rat's ass if I don't. If people want nothing to do with me after being around me for a while there's also nothing for me to do about that. There's at least one person that you've totally lost contact with the passing of time. And I can't help but wonder how many people do I know actually considers me a friend sometimes (not taking into account the degree/level of "friend" on a continuum). But it's okay, it's times like these I'd rather not know.

I know I've been guilty of not mixing around with other people before, but only because it takes me a while to get used to them. I mean, a REALLY long while. So excuse me if I don't talk to you for the longest time until I actually say something to you.

Of course there are some people SO obnoxious I keep my distance whenever possible. (Some of you know might who I'm referring to). It's so bad I can't even be polite to them if there is unavoidable interaction involved.

As I re-read How to Win Friends and Influence People, I realized that even after a few years since I read it, I've unknowingly been practicing the principles that Dale Carnegie put out in my own life. To those who have not read this book, the summary of the principles are as follows: (thanks to the folks at Wikipedia for the point list and the late Dale Carnegie for writing it)

Fundamental Techniques for Handling People:

  • Don't criticize, condemn or complain.
  • Give people a feeling of importance; praise the good parts of them.
  • Get the other person to want to do what you want them to by arousing their desires.

Six Ways to Make People Like You:

  • Be genuinely interested in other people.
  • Smile.
  • Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language. (This is according to the 1981 edition that I'm reading at the moment)
  • Encourage others to talk about themselves and listen to them.
  • Discuss what the other person is interested in.
  • Make the other person feel important.

Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking:

  • Avoid arguments.
  • Show respect for the other person's opinions. Never tell someone they are wrong.
  • If you're wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
  • Begin in a friendly way.
  • Start with questions the other person will answer yes to.
  • Let the other person do the talking.
  • Let the other person feel the idea is his/hers.
  • Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view.
  • Sympathize with the other person's ideas and desires.
  • Appeal to noble motives.
  • Dramatize your ideas.
  • Throw down a challenge.

Be A Leader: Nine Ways to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment:

  • Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
  • Call attention to other people's mistakes indirectly.
  • Talk about your own mistakes first.
  • Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
  • Let the other person save face.
  • Praise every improvement.
  • Give them a fine reputation to live up to.
  • Encourage them by making their faults seem easy to correct.
  • Make the other person happy about doing what you suggest.
I kind of think that the names one (Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language) is SO true... People do like hearing the sound of their names. think some people should be given a copy of the book to make a point *evil grin* But it's just me; I'm only reading it because it's got a nice flow with loads of examples of individuals (not just presidents and vice presidents but also other people) who have successfully applied these principles.

I think at the end of the day you just look at how Asians interact with each other and their elders and just take a leaf out of THAT book. The principles, to this Asian, makes sense; I don't know about people of other ethnicities.