July 26, 2005

Excerpts: 25 Ways to Win with People - Part III

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 12:03 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture


When most people meet others, they search for ways to make themselves look good. The key to the 30-Second Rule is reversing this practice. When you make contact with people, instead of focusing on yourself, search for ways to make them look good.

Every day before I meet with people, I pause to think about something encouraging I can tell them. What I say can be one of many things: I might thank them for something theyve done for me or for a friend. I might tell others about one of their accomplishments. I might praise them for a per- sonal quality they exhibit. Or I might simply compliment their appearance. The practice isnt complicated, but it does take some time, effort, and discipline. The reward for practicing it is huge, because it really makes a positive impact on people.

If you desire to encourage others by practicing the 30- Second Rule, then remember these things the next time you meet people:


All people feel better and do better when you give them attention, affirmation, and appreciation. The next time you make contact with people, begin by giving them your undivided attention during the first thirty seconds. Affirm them and show your appreciation for them in some way. Then watch what happens. You will be surprised by how positively they respond. And if you have trouble remembering to keep your focus on them instead of on yourself, then perhaps the words of William King will help you. He said, A gossip is one who talks to you about other people. A bore is one who talks to you about himself. And a brilliant conversationalist is one who talks to you about yourself.


Psychologist Henry H. Goddard conducted a study on energy levels in children using an instrument he called the ergograph. His findings are fascinating. He discovered that when tired children were given a word of praise or commen- dation, the ergograph showed an immediate upward surge of energy in the children. When the children were criticized or discouraged, the ergograph showed that their physical energy took a sudden nosedive.

You may have already discovered this intuitively. When someone praises you, doesnt your energy level go up? And when you are criticized, doesnt that comment drag you down? Words have great power.

What kind of environment do you think you could create if you continually affirmed people when you first came into contact with them? Not only would you encourage them, but you would also become an energy carrier. Whenever you walked into a room, the people would light up! You would help to create the kind of environment everyone loves. Just your presence alone would brighten peoples days.


Vince Lombardi, the famed Green Bay Packers football coach, was a feared disciplinarian. But he was also a great motivator. One day he chewed out a player who had missed several blocking assignments. After practice, Lombardi stormed into the locker room and saw that the player was sit- ting at his locker, head down, dejected. Lombardi mussed his hair, patted him on the shoulder, and said, One of these days, youre going to be the best guard in the NFL.

That player was Jerry Kramer, and Kramer says he carried that positive image of himself for the rest of his career. Lombardis encouragement had a tremendous impact on my whole life, Kramer said. He went on to become a member of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame and a member of the NFLs All-50-Year Team.

Everybody needs motivation from time to time. Using the 30-Second Rule helps encourage people to be and do their best. Never underestimate the power of motivation:
  • Motivation helps people who know what they should do . . . to do it!
  • Motivation helps people who know what commit- ment they should make . . . to make it!
  • Motivation helps people who know what habit they should break . . . to break it!
  • Motivation helps people who know what path they should take . . . to take it!

Motivation makes it possible to accomplish what you should accomplish.

One of the great side benefits of the 30-Second Rule is that it also helps you. You cant help others without also helping yourself. Benjamin Franklin realized this truth, and he encouraged others with it. In a letter to John Paul Jones, Franklin wrote:
Hereafter, if you should observe an occasion to give your officers and friends a little more praise than is their due, and confess more fault than you can justly be charged with, you will only become the sooner for it, a great cap- tain. Criticizing and censuring almost everyone you have to do with, will diminish friends, increase enemies, and thereby hurt your affairs.

If you want others to feel good about themselves and to feel glad every time they see you, then practice the 30-Second Rule. Remember this: those who add to us, draw us to them. Those who subtract, cause us to withdraw.


Social psychologists have studied first impressions for decades. If you want to make an impression that is lasting and positive, we now know what works and what doesnt. And Johns 30-Second Rule is one of the most effective means for finding success in this area. In research its called the primacy effect, and its initial impact goes a long way in making others feel connected with you.

To apply Johns teaching to your own life . . .

Forget about:
Searching for ways to make yourself look good. Instead, search for ways to make others look good.

What positive, encouraging thing can I say to each person I will see today?

Do it:
Give everyone you meet the Triple-A Treatment attention, affirmation, and appreciation.

Within the first thirty seconds of a conversation, say something encouraging.