How to Win Friends and Influence People is the title of a best-selling back by Dale Carnegie published way back in 1937. But St. Ignatius of Loyola was addressing that same subject centuries ago.

And all the talk today about “customer-centered” enterprises would not have been alien to the founder of the Jesuits.

When the pope sent Jesuits on diplomatic missions, Ignatius advised them: “In dealing with people of position or influence, if you are to win their affection for the greater glory of God our Lord, look first to their disposition and accommodate yourselves to them.” He even offered several specifics.

“If they are of a lively temper, quick and merry of speech, follow their lead in your dealings with them when you talk of good and holy things, and do not be too serious, glum and reserved. If they are shy and retiring, slow to speak, serious and weighty in their talk, use the same manner with them because such ways will be gratifying to them.”

But note that all the flexibility in relationships that Ignatius recommended had to be done for one single purpose — “the greater glory of God our Lord.” The good saint was all about keeping first things first — and admonishing his followers to do the same.

Food for thought

  • Do I consider the disposition of others and try to adjust when I approach them with a goal in mind?
  • Do I prepare myself adequately to deal with my colleagues’ personalities and quirks before approaching them?
  • Do I regularly examine my motives in dealing with others, keeping God first and striving to serve the common good rather than my own selfish interests?

Adapted and used with permission from Take Five: On-the-Job Meditations with St. Ignatius by Mike Aquilina and Fr. Kris D. Stubna, Copyright © by Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc. 

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