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April 22, 2024

Winning Friends and Influencing People

Jimmy Pritchard

Winning Friends and Influencing People

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I’ll never forget the first time I heard the infamous quote by Maya Angelou, and to this day it resonates with me. 

In a culture saturated by attention and the need for vindication, most of us become so self-absorbed that we forget what matters most — our relationships with others

With things like social media tempting us all to one-up our neighbor, scratch for likes, crawl for shares, and do a frequent inventory of how many “followers” or “friends” we’ve obtained lately, we remain blindly unaware of the status our real-life relationships hold. 

This isn’t any one person’s faul –to a degree, we all suffer from a lack of social skills from time to time, — but I believe it’s important to strive to be better. 

Easton Open Spring 2024. Image: Matthew Barton.

If you’re looking for a space to build lasting relationships IRL, a fantastic place to start is by joining a healthy martial arts school like Easton. There, on the mats and sharing the same struggle, so many meaningful relationships and life lessons await!

Outside of this, however, we must take the process into our own hands via learning and then applying. 

One of my favorite resources for doing so is the book entitled, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.  Not only does it teach you the importance of treating others well, but it also teaches you how to better interact with them.

[5 Ways To Be A Good Training Partner: Part 2]

The principles

How to Win Friends and Influence People was first written in 1936 by Dale Carnegie, infamous for his lecturing and public speaking skills.  The book remains a best-seller to this day and stands the test of time.  It’s broken into four key parts:

1) Fundamental techniques to handling people

2) Six ways to make people like you

3) How to win people to your way of thinking

4) Be a leader: how to change people without giving offense of arousing resentment

Professor Alex Huddleston at the Easton Department Head Retreat, 2023. Image: Greg Streech.


All of  these sections hold valuable insights to understanding people, developing meaningful relationships and honing effective communication skills. You can apply them all facets of your life! Here are the major takewaways:

  •  Smile. A smile is a powerful way to make a good impression and put people at ease. It shows that you’re friendly and approachable.
  • Remember their name. This is a simple way to show that you care. When you meet someone new, try to remember their name and use it often in conversation.
  • Listen. Everybody likes a good listener. Pay attention to what they’re saying, don’t interrupt, and ask questions to show that you’re interested.
  • Avoid arguments. If you do find yourself in an argument, the best thing to do is step back. This doesn’t mean that you must agree with everything the other person says, but it does mean that you shouldn’t try to win the argument.
  • Praise them sincerely. People love to be praised. When you see someone doing something well, be sure to let them know.
  • Let them save face. Everyone makes mistakes. If someone messes up, don’t embarrass them. Instead, help them to save face by being understanding and supportive.
  • Be a leader. This doesn’t mean that you must be the boss. It simply means that you should find ways to positively influence others. To be a leader, you need to be able to get people to see things your way. (It helps to have their best interest at heart.)

It’s hard to refute the logic of these principles, and we could all undoubtedly benefit from trying some of these ourselves.

Professor Carlos, GM of Easton Denver, Easton Department Head Retreat, 2023. Image: Greg Streech.

How to Win Friends and Influence People 2.0

The principles above are rocks that will set anyone up for success both on and off the mats, if they’re honestly employed. 

When it comes to Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai, we must approach those we train with similarly to optimize our relationships, but with a few additions:


It’s critical to listen to your coaches and training partners, not just hear them.  Your coaches have dedicated their time to teaching you valuable information about techniques that’ll make you a better martial artist. Your training partners may offer you advice or try to cue you on injuries they want to avoid.  No matter the circumstance, it’s key to give your undivided attention to those around you and demonstrate your presence. This isn’t just good manners, it’s for the overall safety of yourself and others.

Show Respect

Respect is integral to martial arts, not because anybody holds any “power” over others, but because we want to demonstrate our respect to the art, those who came before us and those currently devoting their time to it. A beautiful aspect of martial arts, respect forms the core quality that separates it from other sports and hobbies. 

We show respect by doing our best to show up on time, take care of our training partners, listen to others, and represent the academy with class in every situation.

Coach Bojan Velickovic helps a student prep at the Easton Open Spring 2024. Image: Matthew Barton.


Giving is a broad principle but it’s also full of opportunities.  I’m a firm believer in “paying it forward” and doing something because you want to.  For me, it’s coaching others.  I’ve been fortunate to have had some amazing instructors and battle every week with amazing training partners my whole career. I appreciate the opportunity to return whatever fraction of the favor I can by coaching others. 

For you, it doesn’t have to be coaching; it can be volunteering once for a school-wide event, helping welcome newer students (link), or introducing a friend to your beloved martial art.  Ironically, giving is one of the greatest gifts of life once you feel it.

[Crossfit Coach and BJJ Purple Belt Jason Ackerman: Aligning with Growth]

In the end, none of us are perfect and we all have room to improve when it comes to the way we interact with others. 

When we distill what matters most in life, it’s the relationships we foster with our friends, family, and even strangers — because we only get one chance at life.  You may only get one interaction with a person your entire life, and furthermore, you never know when it may be your last.

Why not have a positive impact no matter the occasion?  It’s unlikely that any of us will get it perfect every time, but if we trust the process, we’ll all do a little better.

‘The Four Agreements’ Transforming How We Think, Speak and Act


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