The principles of Dale Carnegie's book, How to Win Friends and Influence People are often thought of as superficial. To some degree, this is true as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough. The truth is, almost every relationship starts superficially. The relationship between parents and their children is the one exception.
Relationships progress from superficial acquaintances to deep friendships. If you want to form friendships, you must start out at the surface level and this gives you a place to start from which you can form a deeper friendship.
Recall how your previous good friendships have started. They weren't profound at the beginning. They were superficial. And you gradually got to know your friend better. You shared more experiences. You found more common ground as time went on. That's how it works. You can't skip the superficial stage, so you might as well master this level.
Many of the friendships you formed in childhood began before you even remember. But this is how they began. This is how they all start: First you learn a person's name and where she is from and what she does for a living. Then you learn her interests. If you find common ground, the relationship gradually moves from the superficial to the deeper and more lasting kind of friendship.
So in your quest to form a lasting friendship, an understanding of how to form superficial relationships is essential. Learn the principles and apply them. Read the book. Listen to the book on tape, and learn to get to know people superficially. Form superficial bonds. If you find a person you want to go further with — if you want to form a more than superficial relationship, you can begin to open up. Read more about cultivating closeness here. But the principles from Carnegie's book will apply even at the deepest levels. Whether your friendship is superficial or profound, it is still important to listen well, to express your interest in the other person, to appreciate her, etc.
For some pursuits, there are no shortcuts, and developing friendships is one of these. You cannot skip the beginning part and jump straight to the deeper parts. Begin at the beginning. Start with the superficial and move gradually deeper.
Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal Growth, Slotralogy, Antivirus For Your Mind, and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.