The first big idea I want to talk about is the importance of remembering that a man’s name is to him the sweetest and most important sound in any language. I used to meet people and I was so concerned about all the social pressures and expectations, that I would miss the most important part. And that part is when the person tells you his name. I would hear it, but in about 30 seconds I would realize I had no idea what that person’s name was. Not only did that make my interactions awkward, but it also made me unable to connect with people on a deeper level. And unless you have some kind of flawless memory, you probably identify with this. So what I started doing was not only focusing using on the name more, but using a helpful technique. When the person says, “Hey, my name is Bill.” Instead of saying, “Nice to meet you,” try saying, “Nice to meet you, Bill.” You have just repeated his name back to him and that helps tremendously with actually remembering the person’s name.
You will also start to notice that people feel more connected to you and respond better when you use their name, and it is because a man’s name is to him the sweetest and most important sound in any language. Now, the following story combines two big ideas: Big idea 2: If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically. and Big idea 3: Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely. A few years ago, I went out with my friends, and by the end of the night they were all drunk and I was driving them back. They are all yelling and screaming the whole way, and suddenly they all decide they are hungry and want Taco Bell. So I take the exit on the highway, and I have no idea where I am, it’s 3AM in the morning, and I see I’m going the wrong way and need to turn around.
All of a sudden I have to make a split-second decision, I’m about to turn around but then I see the no turnaround sign. I still turn around. I drive to Taco Bell and as I approach to order, I see police lights in the rear mirror. The policeman comes up and says, “Hey, how are you doing tonight?” And I said, “I’m doing well, sir, how are you?” He says, “I’m doing well, too,” and asks me if I know why he pulled me over. Now, in the next second, my social conditioning kicks in. I want to say no. I want to say I didn’t know where I was. I want to say it’s really late, there are no cars around anyway. I want to say I didn’t see the sign. I want to say I’m being responsible, and my friends are creating all this chaos in the car, and I couldn’t think straight.
Once that second is up however, Carnegie’s principles kick in and I say, “Yes, sir. I turned even though I saw the no turnaround sign. I panicked and made a poor decision.” As I said this, his face changed completely. It looked so confused like he had never heard anything like this before. After some silence, I said, “I know I made a mistake and I’m willing to face the consequences for it. Thank you for doing your job.” And he kept looking back in confusion and amazement, then smiled like he had never been that happy in his entire life and said this while he handed me my driver’s license, “Thank you for being responsible and taking care of these guys and I hope you have a good night.” Now some people might hear this and say, “Okay, you admitted you were wrong.
Good. You made him feel important. Good. But you weren’t being genuine.” And look, could I have pulled this off without being genuine? Possibly. But I do really appreciate that policeman doing his job. I really do. I appreciate him just like I would appreciate him if he pulled over a huge SUV with a bunch of drunk guys in it, before they crashed into my girlfriend’s car and killed her while she’s driving on her way home. So the three big ideas are: Big idea 1: Remember that a man’s name is to him the sweetest and most important sound in any language. Big idea 2: If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically. Big idea 3: Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely..