By Bryan Caplan
Here are ten more principles of social success that I’d add to Carnegie’s classic lists.
1. Before you treat another person in a less-than-perfectly-pleasant way, always ask yourself, “What am I trying to accomplish?” You’ll rarely have a good answer for yourself.
2. Before you speak to another person in a less-than-perfectly-pleasant way, always ask yourself, “Is there a more constructive way to say this?” There almost always is.
3. When you witness one person treating another in a less-than-perfectly pleasant way, always ask yourself, “What was he trying to accomplish?!” and “What would have been a more constructive way to say that?” The extra distance – and constant practice – really pay off.
4. “Go with the flow” should be your default. It is conflict that demands justification.
5. Under-promise and over-deliver.
6. If you think of a nice, true thing to tell another person, say it. It will probably be the best thing that happens to them all day.
7. On average, intimidation and deception have low returns and high risks. They work well in rare circumstances, but most people are terrible at identifying those circumstances in advance. As a rule, intimidation and deception are acts of impulse, not a conscious strategy – and it shows.
8. On average, being pleasant has high returns and low risks. It fails in rare circumstances, but most people are terrible at identifying those circumstances in advance.
9. Don’t bottle up negative feelings, but don’t release them impulsively, either. If someone is making you angry or sad, sharing your feelings with this person usually just makes your problem worse. Instead, unburden yourself with very close friends. If sharing your feelings with anyone is likely to just make your problem worse, try writing down your feelings in private until you have nothing left to say.
10. Think of your candor as a gift that other people must earn with equanimity and good humor. Try to surround yourself with people who have earned your gift.
Reprinted by permission of the Liberty Fund. The Liberty Fund is a private educational foundation dedicated to increased knowledge of a society of free and responsible individuals.