Getting To Know You – The King and I

It’s nineteen-ninety something and my son is having difficulty making friends at school.

At the evening table the typical question to my kids is “What was something good that happened today?’

Matthew, Matt to everyone else, is usually excited about school, he likes to learn. This evening he is quiet.

“What’s up?” I ask.

“I don’t have any friends at school,” he mumbles into his mash potatoes.

“Don’t you sit with your friends at lunch?” as I continue to dig for details.

“I sit with people but, they aren’t really my friends,” he says now slapping his potatoes with the fork.

Trying to put some levity into it, I respond, “Well, if you are doing that to you food at the lunch table I can see why you’re having a hard time making friends.” I give him a smile and emulate his actions as I smack my potatoes.

“Daaaad!” is his reply as he now rolls his eyes at me.

I go back into discovery mode, “So what can you tell me about the non-friends you eat lunch with?”

Matthew looks at me puzzled, “What do you mean, like what do they like?”

“Yeah, I continue “What do they like? Do they play sports? Do they play video games?” “That kind of stuff.”

He shrugs his shoulders, “I don’t know. We don’t talk about stuff like that.”

“Then you have a lot to work with,” I say. “Just start asking questions.”

Matt quickly responds. “That’s easy for you Dad. You can make friends with everybody. You make friends with the people at the grocery store standing in line.”

“Your right but, I wasn’t always like that,” I inform him. “Let me share a little secret with you. Are you ready?”

At this point, you think I was going to tell him about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Area 59 all in the same breath.

“Here’s your secret. Everyone’s favorite topic of conversation is themselves.”

To say he look disappointed is an understatement.

“Really Dad? That is the big secret?” he says in his sarcastic voice.

I get up from the table and go into my stack of books and pull out “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. Coming back to the table I gently toss the book to Matthew and as he reads the title I can see his enthusiasm come back to his face.

“See son, it’s not my idea, it’s a topic that has been around for more years than I’ve been alive.”

Matt quickly finishes his dinner and goes to his room to read.

The next day at dinner, the family sits down. I’m interested to see if my lesson stuck with Matt. I didn’t have to start the conversation he did.

“You know Dad, that stuff really works and it works on everybody. I tried in on my friends in class, the friends I eat lunch with and even my teacher. Everybody does like to talk about themselves.”

I asked him “Do you want to know the rest of the secret?”

“Sure!” he said now more interested than ever.

“Keep it up and people will think you are the nicest person they know. And you know what else? They will be right because you took an interest in THEM. You wait and see.”

As Matthew has grown to be an adult whenever he is around new people he does what he and I call “A Carnegie” on them. The other day he was telling me about an opportunity to advance in his finance company.

“You know Dad, the managers said I was in contention because I was one of the few young people in the organization that can actually talk to people and makes a connection with customers and management.

Getting to know you is a wonderful way to create solid, long-lasting relationships. Showing them you care is even better.

“You make friends with people at the grocery store.” That comment stuck with me. I realized that my son was watching me. He was open to my lesson from Dale Carnegie because he saw how it worked in the real world.

Live, Love, Matter

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