The Thirty Minute Blogger

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Making Friends and Influencing People the Victorian British Way

In Life of Barnum: The World Renowned Showman, P.T. describes how one former manager of the Drury Lane Theater, Mr. Alfred Bunn, made friends and influenced people:

In the summer, I think, of 1853, I saw announced in the newspaper that Mr. Alfred Bunn, the great ex-manager of the Drury Lane Theater, in London, had arrived in Boston. I know Mr. Bunn by reputation, not only from his managerial career, but from the fact that he made the first engagement with Jenny Lind to appear in London. ... I had never met Mr. Bunn, but he took it for granted that I had seen him, for one day after his arrival in this country, a burly Englishman abruptly stepped into my private office in the Museum, and, assuming a theatrical attitude, addressed me: 
"Barnum, do you remember me?"
I was confident I had never seen the man before, but it struck me at once that no Englishman I ever heard of would be likely to exhibit more presumption or assumption than the ex-manager of Drury Lane, and I jumped to the conclusion:
"Is not this Mr. Bunn?"
"Ah! Ah! my boy!" he exclaimed, slapping me familiarly on the back, "I thought you would remember me. Well, Barnum, how have you been since I last saw you?"
I replied in a manner that would humor his impression that we were old acquaintances, and during his two hours' visit we had much gossip about men and things in London. he called upon me several times, and it probably never entered into his mind that I could possibly have been in London two or three years without having made the personal acquaintance of so great a lion as Alfred Bunn.

Now, that's how it was done. As C.S. Lewis once wrote in Mere Christianity, if you want to do a thing (or in this case be a convivial friend of all) and aren't sure how, first pretend. Before long you'll discover you have learned how and are the thing you wished to be. The Mr. Bunn approach for sure.

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