HOW CAN you reach someone? That's the basic question, isn't it? You want to share what you know about Islam with people you love, and you want them to listen to you. What can you do to make them more likely to listen to you?
One of the most successful, effective, and enjoyable books to read on the subject of dealing with people is How to Win Friends and Influence People, originally published in 1937 and still on store shelves today. One of the principles from the book is to talk in terms of the other person's interests. Is that obvious? Perhaps. Do you do it? Probably not nearly as much as you could. But if you want to reach people, this principle is a good place to start. The book is full of true stories. Here's one:
Take Henry G. Duvernoy of Duvemoy and Sons, a wholesale baking firm in New York.
Mr. Duvernoy had been trying to sell bread to a certain New York hotel. He had called on the manager every week for four years. He went to the same social affairs the manager attended. He even took rooms in the hotel and lived there in order to get the business. But he failed. "Then," said Mr. Duvernoy, "after studying human relations, I resolved to change my tactics. I decided to find out what interested this man — what caught his enthusiasm.
"I discovered he belonged to a society of hotel executives called the Hotel Greeters of America. He not only belonged, but his bubbling enthusiasm had made him president of the organization, and president of the International Greeters. No matter where its conventions were held, he would be there.
"So when I saw him the next day, I began talking about the Greeters. What a response I got. What a response! He talked to me for half an hour about the Greeters, his tones vibrant with enthusiasm. I could plainly see that this society was not only his hobby, it was the passion of his life. Before I left his office, he had 'sold' me a membership in his organization.
"In the meantime, I had said nothing about bread. But a few days later, the steward of his hotel phoned me to come over with samples and prices.
"'I don't know what you did to the old boy,' the steward greeted me, 'but he sure is sold on you!' "Think of it! I had been drumming at that man for four years — trying to get his business — and I'd still be drumming at him if I hadn't finally taken the trouble to find out what he was interested in, and what he enjoyed talking about."
If you want people to listen to you, if you want to reach people, if you want to influence people, start by talking to people about what they really care about. It will not only transform your ability to persuade, it will vastly improve the feelings of connection you have with each other.