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How To Make Friends (and how to think about all human relationships)

Dale Carnegie’s book ‘How to win friends and influence people’ is a great book.

If you’ve been interested in personal development for any length of time, you’ve likely come across it.

Its probably one of the most popular books on building relationships.

However it focuses on techniques for building relationships, without ever revealing the underlying formula that relationships are built upon.

The techniques it presents are solid. But its a bit like giving someone medicine without explaining what is causing the ailment.

Short term, it might solve the issue.

But longer term, their chance of living healthily is greatly enhanced by understanding the issue.

My main takeaways from the book were:

  • Speak to people in terms of their own interests
  • Facilitate people to talk about themselves

And it works! But why?

Lets peel back the curtains and discuss the formula behind why these techniques work in the first place.

They work because they focus on providing value to people in your life. And that’s the crux of it; value.

All relationships are built on an exchange of value.

And those relationships that last longest are build on a mutual, persistent exchange of value.

Background To Why

Our #1 goal in life is survival (our #2 goal being reproduction).

Based off this premise, we can imagine that people aren’t going to do things (for too long) that don’t further their #1 goal.

For example, if you met me at a networking event, we strike up conversation, and find:

  • Our goals are not aligned
  • Our personal interests are not shared
  • We have little in common

What survival advantage for you would it be to maintain contact? Zero.

Neither of us, from first impressions, are going to be able to provide value to each other.

How Value Works

Think of it like an old school weighing scales. With the value you bring to the relationship on one side, and the value they bring on the other.

So when the relationship value becomes unbalanced, that’s when the relationship starts to falter:

Now, ideally the process of friendship occurs naturally. You meet someone you can offer value to, they see you as valuable and reciprocate, et voila.

But what if you want to “become” friends with someone.

There are very simple ways of demonstrating value that leads to a connection with someone:

  • Listening to them (which is easier said than done)
  • Asking questions about their interests
  • Finding ways to help that person

These are both a good ice breaker, and good practices to maintain of the course of the relationship.

However, its not always enough to maintain a relationship just by taking interest in someones life.

Value can be provided in many different ways. We could categorise value into the following types:

  • Service Value -> Where you provides time & energy in helping someone
  • Companionship & Attention Value -> Life can be a lonely affair, and its greatly enhanced when we have company. By sharing time & experiences with someone, you provide them value
  • Intellectual/Educational Value -> Teaching people things they need enhances their life goals
  • Business/Career Value -> Helping people to reach their business/career goals
  • Financial Value -> Finding ways give/pay people money is almost always going to be seen as valuable
  • Reproductive Value -> Helping someone achieve their goal of reproduction is naturally, valuable

Ideally you want to hit one or more of these value ‘categories’ when establishing a long term relationship with someone.

To Summarise

You can build relationships with people by providing them value.

It can be as simple as listening to them, or as complex as having a baby with them.

But either way, the premise is simple, and requires no magic or guess work.

Once this concept is grasped, it can be interesting to apply to existing relationships.

Ask yourself, what value exchange is currently taking place in my relationships?

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