Publicity April 2015

How do you make people feel?

We are all pretty average on recalling events, people’s names, locations, sequences, etc., but we are geniuses on remembering feelings. We are especially good on how people made us feel.

Stop, recall, reflect—how do you make others feel?

Are you a master of the snappy remark, a character assassin brilliantly wielding the sharp put down, a notorious one-upper, a sarcastic sadist? Or are you a builder of friendships, confidences, trust, regard, cooperation, fans and followers?

Business is deemed to be logical—cool, balanced, unswerving on the road to greater efficiencies. Ironically, we are such emotional beings trying to be detached, but we are usually not very good at it.

Dale Carnegie noted, “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion”. Ever find yourself still chewing over some ancient injustice?

The precise details may grow dim in the mists of time but the intensity of the feeling is still like hot magma residing deep within you. We are constantly reacting emotionally to occurrences and other people.

Something doesn’t arrive on time or in the right format and we have that chemical reaction that is triggered by the emotions of anger, disappointment, fear or frustration.

What happened to that “logic” port in the storm? It sailed right out the window, as we grind our teeth or curse the perpetrator of our problems.

People say something trying to be funny or witty but we take it badly. We instantly feel insulted, humiliated or hurt.

We might retreat inside ourselves and not mention or show any obvious reaction, but we don’t forgive and we don’t forget. Or we might savage them on the spot and lash out in defence of our good name, creating massive tension and painful silences in the process.

There are some basic principles of successful human relations we forget at our peril. “Don’t criticise, condemn or complain” is an all weather wonder.

Let’s resist the urge to correct others, to tell them off, to bring their personal failings to their attention immediately.

It is not a cure that works well and in fact just builds pig-headed resistance, as the guilty party seeks to justify their dubious actions. They also hate us for bringing it up and they are often pretty decent “haters for life”. Anyone in your past you still have it in for?

“Let the other person save face” is a handy principle to keep in mind in public situations. Not everyone is quick, elegant or urbane and some people seem to invite correction, but let’s resist that urge.

Telling them they completely mangled the proper pronunciation of a word or grammatical construct or got the facts totally about face may make you feel better but you have just made yourself a target for revenge and retribution.

Just because they may not obviously react should be cold comfort. Remember to beware the dog that doesn’t bark.

“Show respect for the other person’s opinion. Never say, ‘You are wrong’”. Even if you feel they are so totally incorrect it is barely fathomable, restrain yourself from leaping in and pointing out they are an idiot.

The passing crowd takes note to be careful when around you, and the individual in question will now feel a surge of energy to argue the point with you, completely oblivious to rhyme or reason.

“The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it”. Incredibly, even people in sales forget this sage advice and want to argue with the client. We might win the battle over the point of contention, but we will lose the war over the long term.

We mark ourselves out as a “difficult person” and, very inconveniently, bad news travels far and wide. We have all met “argumentative” types, but we usually don’t like them very much.

US author and poet Maya Angelou summed it up brilliantly: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.

So how do you make people feel? Apply these principles and build your success.