I was waiting in line to register a letter in the post office
at Thirty-third Street and Eighth Avenue in New York. I
noticed that the clerk appeared to be bored with the job
-weighing envelopes, handing out stamps, making
change, issuing receipts - the same monotonous grind
year after year. So I said to myself: "I am going to try to
make that clerk like me. Obviously, to make him like
me, I must say something nice, not about myself, but
about him. So I asked myself, ‘What is there about him
that I can honestly admire?’ " That is sometimes a hard
question to answer, especially with strangers; but, in
this case, it happened to be easy. I instantly saw something
I admired no end.
So while he was weighing my envelope, I remarked
with enthusiasm: "I certainly wish I had your head of
He looked up, half-startled, his face beaming with
smiles. "Well, it isn’t as good as it used to be,” he said
modestly. I assured him that although it might have lost
some of its pristine glory, nevertheless it was still magnificent.
He was immensely pleased. We carried on a
pleasant little conversation and the last thing he said to
me was: “Many people have admired my hair.”
I’ll bet that person went out to lunch that day walking
on air. I’ll bet he went home that night and told his wife
about it. I’ll bet he looked in the mirror and said: “It is a
beautiful head of hair.”
I told this story once in public and a man asked me
afterwards: “‘What did you want to get out of him?”
What was I trying to get out of him!!! What was I trying
to get out of him!!!
If we are so contemptibly selfish that we can’t radiate
a little happiness and pass on a bit of honest appreciation
without trying to get something out of the other person
in return - if our souls are no bigger than sour crab apples,
we shall meet with the failure we so richly deserve.
Oh yes, I did want something out of that chap. I
wanted something priceless. And I got it. I got the feeling
that I had done something for him without his being
able to do anything whatever in return for me. That is a
feeling that flows and sings in your memory lung after
the incident is past.
There is one all-important law of human conduct. If
we obey that law, we shall almost never get into trouble.
In fact, that law, if obeyed, will bring us countless
friends and constant happiness. But the very instant we
break the law, we shall get into endless trouble. The law
is this: Always make the other person feel important.
John Dewey, as we have already noted, said that the
desire to be important is the deepest urge in human
nature; and William James said: “The deepest principle
in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” As I
have already pointed out, it is this urge that differentiates
us from the animals. It is this urge that has been
responsible for civilization itself.
Philosophers have been speculating on the rules of
human relationships for thousands of years, and out of
all that speculation, there has evolved only one important
precept. It is not new. It is as old as history. Zoroaster
taught it to his followers in Persia twenty-five
hundred years ago. Confucius preached it in China
twenty-four centuries ago. Lao-tse, the founder of
Taoism, taught it to his disciples in the Valley of the
Han. Buddha preached it on the bank of the Holy
Ganges five hundred years before Christ. The sacred
books of Hinduism taught it a thousand years before
that. Jesus taught it among the stony hills of Judea nineteen
centuries ago. Jesus summed it up in one thought
-probably the most important rule in the world: “Do
unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
You want the approval of those with whom you come
in contact. You want recognition of your true worth. You
want a feeling that you are important in your little world.
You don’t want to listen to cheap, insincere flattery, but
you do crave sincere appreciation. You want your friends
and associates to be, as Charles Schwab put it, “hearty
in their approbation and lavish in their praise.” All of us
So let’s obey the Golden Rule, and give unto others
what we would have others give unto us,
How? When? Where? The answer is: All the time,
David G. Smith of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, told one of
our classes how he handled a delicate situation when he
was asked to take charge of the refreshment booth at a
“The night of the concert I arrived at the park and
found two elderly ladies in a very bad humor standing
next to the refreshment stand. Apparently each thought
that she was in charge of this project. As I stood there
pondering what to do, me of the members of the sponsoring
committee appeared and handed me a cash
box and thanked me for taking over the project. She
introduced Rose and Jane as my helpers and then ran
"A great silence ensued. Realizing that the cash box
was a symbol of authority (of sorts), I gave the box to
Rose and explained that I might not be able to keep the
money straight and that if she took care of it I would feel
better. I then suggested to Jane that she show two teenagers
who had been assigned to refreshments how to
operate the soda machine, and I asked her to be responsible
for that part of the project.
“The evening was very enjoyable with Rose happily
counting the money, Jane supervising the teenagers, and
me enjoying the concert.”
You don’t have to wait until you are ambassador to
France or chairman of the Clambake Committee of your
lodge before you use this philosophy of appreciation.
You can work magic with it almost every day.
If, for example, the waitress brings us mashed potatoes
when we have ordered French fried, let’s say: “I’m sorry
to trouble you, but I prefer French fried.” She’ll probably
reply, “No trouble at all” and will be glad to change
the potatoes, because we have shown respect for her.
Little phrases such as “I’m sorry to trouble you,”
“Would you be so kind as to? " "Won't you
please?” " Would you mind?” “Thank you” - little courtesies
like these oil the cogs of the monotonous grind of
everyday life- and, incidentally, they are the hallmark
of good breeding.
Let’s take another illustration. Hall Caine’s novels-The
Christian, The Deemster, The Manxman, among
them - were all best-sellers in the early part of this century.
Millions of people read his novels, countless millions.
He was the son of a blacksmith. He never had
more than eight years’ schooling in his life; yet when he
died he was the richest literary man of his time.
The story goes like this: Hall Caine loved sonnets and
ballads; so he devoured all of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s
poetry. He even wrote a lecture chanting the praises of
Rossetti’s artistic achievement-and sent a copy to Rossetti
himself. Rossetti was delighted. “Any young man
who has such an exalted opinion of my ability,” Rossetti
probably said to himself, “must be brilliant,” So Rossetti
invited this blacksmith’s son to come to London and act
as his secretary. That was the turning point in Hall
Caine’s life; for, in his new position, he met the literary
artists of the day. Profiting by their advice and inspired
by their encouragement, he launched upon a career that
emblazoned his name across the sky.
His home, Greeba Castle, on the Isle of Man, became
a Mecca for tourists from the far corners of the world,
and he left a multimillion dollar estate. Yet - who knows
- he might have died poor and unknown had he not
written an essay expressing his admiration for a famous
Such is the power, the stupendous power, of sincere,
Rossetti considered himself important. That is not
strange, Almost everyone considers himself important,
The life of many a person could probably be changed
if only someone would make him feel important. Ronald
J. Rowland, who is one of the instructors of our course
in California, is also a teacher of arts and crafts. He wrote
to us about a student named Chris in his beginning
Chris was a very quiet, shy boy lacking in self-confidence,
the kind of student that often does not receive the
attention he deserves. I also teach an advanced class that
had grown to be somewhat of a status symbol and a privilege
for a student to have earned the right to be in it.
On Wednesday, Chris was diligently working at his desk.
I really felt there was a hidden fire deep inside him. I asked
Chris if he would like to be in the advanced class. How I
wish I could express the look in Chris’s face, the emotions
in that shy fourteen-year-old boy, trying to hold back his
“Who me, Mr. Rowland? Am I good enough?”
“Yes, Chris, you are good enough.”
I had to leave at that point because tears were coming to
my eyes. As Chris walked out of class that day, seemingly
two inches taller, he looked at me with bright blue eyes and
said in a positive voice, “Thank you, Mr. Rowland.”
Chris taught me a lesson I will never forget-our deep
desire to feel important. To help me never forget this rule,
I made a sign which reads “YOU ARE IMPORTANT." This
sign hangs in the front of the classroom for all to see and to
remind me that each student I face is equally important.
The unvarnished truth is that almost all the people
you meet feel themselves superior to you in some way,
and a sure way to their hearts is to let them realize in
some subtle way that you recognize their importance,
and recognize it sincerely.
Remember what Emerson said: “Every man I meet is
my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him.”
And the pathetic part of it is that frequently those who
have the least justification for a feeling of achievement
bolster up their egos by a show of tumult and conceit
which is truly nauseating. As Shakespeare put it: ". . .
man, proud man,/Drest in a little brief authority, . . .
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven/As make
the angels weep.”
I am going to tell you how business people in my own
courses have applied these principles with remarkable
results. Let’s take the case of a Connecticut attorney (because
of his relatives he prefers not to have his name
Shortly after joining the course, Mr. R drove to
Long Island with his wife to visit some of her relatives.
She left him to chat with an old aunt of hers and there
rushed off by herself to visit some of the younger relatives.
Since he soon had to give a speech professionally
on how he applied the principles of appreciation, he
thought he would gain some worthwhile experience
talking with the-elderly lady. So he looked around the
house to see what he could honestly admire.
“This house was built about 1890, wasn’t it?” he inquired.
“Yes,” she replied, “that is precisely the year it was
“It reminds me of the house I was born in,” he said.
“It’s beautiful. Well built. Roomy. You know, they don’t
build houses like this anymore.”
“You’re right,” the old lady agreed. “The young folks
nowadays don’t care for beautiful homes. All they want
is a small apartment, and then they go off gadding about
in their automobiles.
“This is a dream house,” she said in a voice vibrating
with tender memories. “This house was built with love.
My husband and I dreamed about it for years before we
built it. We didn’t have an architect. We planned it all
She showed Mr. R about the house, and he expressed
his hearty admiration for the beautiful treasures
she had picked up in her travels and cherished over a
lifetime - paisley shawls, an old English tea set, Wedgwood
china, French beds and chairs, Italian paintings,
and silk draperies that had once hung in a French chateau.
After showing Mr. R. through the house, she took
him out to the garage. There, jacked up on blocks, was a
Packard car - in mint condition.
"My husband bought that car for me shortly before he
passed on,” she said softly. “I have never ridden in it
since his death. . . . You appreciate nice things, and I’m
going to give this car to you.”
“Why, aunty,” he said, “you overwhelm me. I appreciate
your generosity, of course; but I couldn’t possibly
I’m not even a relative of yours. I have a new
car, and you have many relatives that would like to have
“Relatives!” she exclaimed. “Yes, I have relatives who
are just waiting till I die so they can get that car. But
they are not going to get it.”
“If you don’t want to give it to them, you can very
easily sell it to a secondhand dealer,” he told her.
“Sell it!” she cried. “Do you think I would sell this
car? Do you think I could stand to see strangers riding
up and down the street in that car - that car that my
husband bought for me? I wouldn’t dream of selling it.
I’m going to give it to you. You appreciate beautiful things."
He tried to get out of accepting the car, but he couldn’t
without hurting her feelings.
This lady, left all alone in a big house with her paisley
shawls, her French antiques, and her memories, was
starving for a little recognition, She had once been
young and beautiful and sought after She had once built
a house warm with love and had collected things from
all over Europe to make it beautiful. Now, in the isolated
loneliness of old age, she craved a little human warmth,
a little genuine appreciation - and no one gave it to her.
And when she found it, like a spring in the desert, her
gratitude couldn’t adequately express itself with anything
less than the gift of her cherished Packard.
Let’s take another case: Donald M. McMahon, who
was superintendent of Lewis and Valentine, nurserymen
and landscape architects in Rye, New York, related
“Shortly after I attended the talk on ‘How to Win
Friends and Influence People,’
I was landscaping the
estate of a famous attorney. The owner came out to give
me a few instructions about where he wished to plant a
mass of rhododendrons and azaleas.
“I said, ‘Judge, you have a lovely hobby. I've been
admiring your beautiful dogs. I understand you win a lot
of blue ribbons every year at the show in Madison
“The effect of this little expression of appreciation was
" ‘Yes,’ the judge replied, ‘I do have a lot of fun with
my dogs. Would you like to see my kennel?’
“He spent almost an hour showing me his dogs and
the prizes they had won. He even brought out their
pedigrees and explained about the bloodlines responsible
for such beauty and intelligence.
“Finally, turning to me, he asked: ‘Do you have any
" ‘Yes, I do,’ I replied, ‘I have a son.’
" ‘Well, wouldn’t he like a puppy?’ the judge inquired.
" ‘Oh, yes, he’d be tickled pink.’
" ‘All right, I’m going to give him one,' the . judge announced.
He started to tell me how to feed the puppy. Then he
paused. ‘You’ll forget it if I tell you. I’ll write it out.’ So
the judge went in the house, typed out the pedigree and
feeding instructions, and gave me a puppy worth several
hundred dollars and one hour and fifteen minutes of his
valuable time largely because I had expressed my honest
admiration for his hobby and achievements.”
George Eastman, of Kodak fame, invented the transparent
film that made motion pictures possible, amassed
a fortune of a hundred million dollars, and made himself
one of the most famous businessmen on earth. Yet in
spite of all these tremendous accomplishments, he
craved little recognitions even as you and I.
To illustrate: When Eastman was building the Eastman
School of Music and also Kilbourn Hall in Rochester,
James Adamson, then president of the Superior
Seating Company of New York, wanted to get the order
to supply the theater chairs for these buildings. Phoning
the architect, Mr. Adamson made an appointment to see
Mr. Eastman in Rochester.
When Adamson arrived, the architect said: "I know
you want to get this order, but I can tell you right now
that you won’t stand a ghost of a show if you take more
than five minutes of George Eastman’s time. He is a
strict disciplinarian. He is very busy. So tell your story
quickly and get out.”
Adamson was prepared to do just that.
When he was ushered into the room he saw Mr. Eastman
bending over a pile of papers at his desk. Presently,
Mr. Eastman looked up, removed his glasses, and
walked toward the architect and Mr. Adamson, saying:
“Good morning, gentlemen, what can I do for you?”
The architect introduced them, and then Mr. Adamson
said: “While we’ve been waiting for you, Mr. Eastman,
I’ve been admiring your office. I wouldn’t mind working
in a room like this myself. I’m in the interior-woodworking
business, and I never saw a more beautiful office in
all my life.”
George Eastman replied: “You remind me of something
I had almost forgotten. It is beautiful, isn’t it? I
enjoyed it a great deal when it was first built. But I come
down here now with a lot of other things on my mind
and sometimes don’t even see the room for weeks at a
Adamson walked over and rubbed his hand across a
panel. “This is English oak, isn’t it? A little different
texture from Italian oak.”
“Yes,” Eastman replied. “Imported English oak. It
was selected for me by a friend who specializes in fine
Then Eastman showed him about the room, commenting
on the proportions, the coloring, the hand carving
and other effects he had helped to plan and execute.
While drifting about the room, admiring the wood-work,
they paused before a window, and George Eastman,
in his modest, soft-spoken way, pointed out some
of the institutions through which he was trying to help
humanity: the University of Rochester, the General Hospital,
the Homeopathic Hospital, the Friendly Home,
the Children’s Hospital. Mr. Adamson congratulated
him warmly on the idealistic way he was using his
wealth to alleviate the sufferings of humanity. Presently,
George Eastman unlocked a glass case and pulled out
the first camera he had ever owned - an invention he
had bought from an Englishman.
Adamson questioned him at length about his early
struggles to get started in business, and Mr. Eastman
spoke with real feeling about the poverty of his childhood,
telling how his widowed mother had kept a boardinghouse
while he clerked in an insurance office. The
terror of poverty haunted him day and night, and he
resolved to make enough money so that his mother
wouldn’t have to work, Mr. Adamson drew him out with
further questions and listened, absorbed, while he related
the story of his experiments with dry photographic
plates. He told how he had worked in an office all day,
and sometimes experimented all night, taking only brief
naps while the chemicals were working, sometimes
working and sleeping in his clothes for seventy-two
hours at a stretch.
James Adamson had been ushered into Eastman’s office
at ten-fifteen and had been warned that he must not
take more than five minutes; but an hour had passed,
then two hours passed. And they were still talking.
Finally, George Eastman turned to Adamson and said,
“The last time I was in Japan I bought some chairs,
brought them home, and put them in my sun porch. But
the sun peeled the paint, so I went downtown the other
day and bought some paint and painted the chairs myself.
Would you like to see what sort of a job I can do
painting chairs? All right. Come up to my home and have
lunch with me and I’ll show you.”
After lunch, Mr. Eastman showed Adamson the chairs
he had brought from Japan. They weren’t worth more
than a few dollars, but George Eastman, now a multimillionaire,
was proud of them because he himself had
The order for the seats amounted to $90,000. Who do
you suppose got the order - James Adamson or one of
From the time of this story until Mr. Eastman’s death,
he and James Adamson were close friends.
Claude Marais, a restaurant owner in Rouen, France,
used this principle and saved his restaurant the loss of a
key employee. This woman had been in his employ for
five years and was a vital link between M. Marais and
his staff of twenty-one people. He was shocked to receive
a registered letter from her advising him of her
M. Marais reported: "I was very surprised and, even
more, disappointed, because I was under the impression
that I had been fair to her and receptive to her needs.
Inasmuch as she was a friend as well as an employee, I
probably had taken her too much for granted and maybe
was even more demanding of her than of other employees.
"I could not, of course, accept this resignation without
some explanation. I took her aside and said, ‘Paulette,
you must understand that I cannot accept your resignation
You mean a great deal to me and to this company,
and you are as important to the success of this restaurant
as I am.’ I repeated this in front of the entire staff, and I
invited her to my home and reiterated my confidence in
her with my family present.
“Paulette withdrew her resignation, and today I can
rely on her as never before. I frequently reinforce this
by expressing my appreciation for what she does and
showing her how important she is to me and to the restaurant.”
“Talk to people about themselves,” said Disraeli, one
of the shrewdest men who ever ruled the British Empire.
“Talk to people about themselves and they will
listen for hours ."