How to Make Friends and Influence People

Help Yourself to Muffins

Help Yourself to Muffins...

Laura talks about her experience of meeting new people…

Muffins and doughnuts.

Small things to some, but to others these sweet desserts can open the doors to friendship and happiness in any situation…

Take, as an example, the photo to the right. I found this message on my fridge this morning, left there by my housemate Joe who I moved in with only three weeks ago. The muffins in question were picked up during a late night shop at Tesco for the measley sum of seven pence, but the happiness they brought my housemate was well worth it!

Another example of the joy of desserts came to me courtesy of the business leaders I spent the past couple of days with in Port Solent. I was invited to attend the business reviews of various education businesses at the new Education Division headquarters by my mentor Ian Finlay. The whole experience was really informative and gave me a fantastic insight into the workings of the businesses and how they are assessed; and, when mid morning one of the business leaders brought in a box of goodies from Krispy Kreme, I learned the power of doughnuts to bring joviality to even the most serious of situation!

Desserts aside though, these past weeks really have been characterised for me by the people; the people I’ve met and the people I’ve left behind. Getting to know them and learning to fit in with them has been one of the most challenging and most rewarding elements of my grad scheme so far.

From the moment I arrived here in Tunbridge Wells (and, in fact, since this whole process began), I’ve experienced something of a whirlwind of people. I’ve met people from marketing, people from sales and people from finance. I’ve met customer services people, operations people and product people. I’ve met graduates and interns, MDs and board members. I’ve met housemates and their mates and I’ve even managed to become acquainted with a cat!

And through all of this, I’ve found no skill more useful than that of listening. Ed Cornfield gave us some great advice on emotional intelligence during our induction week and it’s certainly come in handy. I’ve learnt that there is so much to learn from the people we meet; not only on a business level but also about their personal lives and interests. It’s so interesting to hear about people and understand what makes them tick – something which I believe is incredibly important, especially for people in a position of management.

I’ve also learnt the power of pausing. When someone pauses in their response, the most natural or comfortable thing for me used to be to ask another question or give my input, but I’ve found that pausing actually gives them person time to say more; it can even make them feel more valued because you’re taking that time to listen.

My memory is being put to the test too! I’ve found that even the smallest thing remembered about a person can make them feel really good about your relationship and being able to follow up on the things they’ve told you is a great way to develop that relationship.

I guess my conclusion to this rather rambled post is therefore that muffins and doughnuts can be great tools but it is only through really listening and caring that we can create the relationships from which we’ll continue to benefit in the future.

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