Raphael, “Self-Portrait with a Friend”, c. 1519 (Public Domain)
With the goal of loving others, making friends and opening doors to the Gospel, here are 8 suggestions
Over 30 million copies have been sold of the 1936 book,How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, making it one of the best-selling books of all time. It was No. 19 on Time Magazine's list of the 100 most influential books.
Who doesn’t want to be well-liked and influential? Scripture, however, says that the world will hate us."If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first,” (John 15:18).
Yet, if we look at the saints, they were often (not always) well-loved by those around them and this love had the power to convert hearts. It’s true that saints made enemies, but it was usually due to the Catholic truths they taught and not their demeanor.
St. Teresa of Calcutta
Although Catholic beliefs can stir the ire of the world, we can still make friends along the way. Consider St. Teresa of Calcutta. She dared to confront the evil of abortion at a 1994 National Prayer Day Breakfast with President Clinton, Vice President Gore and their wives in the audience.
The 83-year-old nun famous for her work with the poor, said that the "greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion," and added that "every abortion is the denial of receiving Jesus." She also called for adoption, rather than abortion, and natural family planning instead of contraception. Her remarks drew sustained applause but must have certainly angered liberals. Yet, it was because of Mother Teresa’s love for others that won her love in return and frequently presented her with opportunities to speak truths to a wide audience.
Lead with Love
A few years ago, I interviewed Father Jonathon Morris, author and Fox News contributor, who explained that Pope Francis helped him to understand how to lead with love. “He taught me to explain Church teaching not just in a loving way, but also in a way that the person can experience the love of the Church,” Father Morris explained. “Practically speaking, that can mean sharing common ground—what do we share in common? I want that person to know that I love them no matter what. That doesn’t mean I don’t ever speak out, but I don’t begin with that. In a true friendship, the other person should trust you to say what you believe.”
I recently spoke with Trent Horn, a convert to the faith and staff apologist for Catholic Answers, who has a low-key, likable style during his radio show. The advice he gives to Catholics who want to influence others to the faith is to be respectful and interested in people, not pushy or critical. Even on the radio, he puts people at ease and comes across as a friend.
“Begin by asking people questions,” Horn said. “What do you believe? Why? How do you know it’s true?” With the gentle and attentive style, people begin to share, according to him. Then, we can draw attention to contradictions and explain what we believe. His point is to begin with a conversation, not a lecture.
Horn also stressed that our role as Catholics, is to be obedient to Jesus who instructed us to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation,” (Mark 16:15). But it will be the Holy Spirit, who does the actual converting, Horn pointed out, so we need not feel that it’s all on our shoulders. With his example as well as Father Morris, and St. Teresa, it seems that being likable opens greater possibilities that the Catholic message will be heard.
Granted, on the big scale, haters are going to hate, but in interpersonal relationships, making friends is going to increase opportunities to influence.
With the goal of loving others, making friends, and opening doors to the Gospel, here are some abridged suggestions from Carnegie’s book.
- Don't criticize, condemn or complain.When people are criticized or humiliated, they rarely respond well and become defensive and resent their critic.
- Give honest and sincere appreciation. Appreciation is one of the most powerful tools in the world. Appreciation, though, is not simple flattery, it must be sincere, meaningful and with love.
- Become genuinely interested in other people. "You can make more friends in two months by being interested in them, than in two years by making them interested in you." The only way to make quality, lasting friendships is to learn to be genuinely interested in them.
- Smile.Smiles have an amazing ability to make others feel wonderful. Mother Teresa told people this also.
- Remember that a person's.We can make people feel extremely valued and important by remembering their name.
- Be a good listener. The easiest way to become a good conversationalist is to become a good listener. To be a good listener, we must actually care about what people have to say.
- Talk in terms of the other person's interest. The royal road to a person's heart is to talk about the things he or she treasures most. If we talk to people about what they are interested in, they will feel valued.
- Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely. The Golden Rule is to treat other people how we would like to be treated.