Day 8. Ode to the rotting fish and my name sure sounds sweet to the ear…


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 8.  April 2, 2011 
Preface:  I was concerned I wouldn’t find an opportunity to exercise the principles.  By the day’s end I have two stories to share.

Story 1.
I was at Chick-fil-A, ordering a chicken sandwich combo meal.  The cashier asked my name which I thought was odd—because they serve the food immediately after you pay.  I handed her the money and she said, “’Smiling Daffodil’, here’s your meal.  Thank you.” 

Admittedly, they are trained to add this personal touch, but I have to say, I was reminded of Dale Carnegie’s principle from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 6.  Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

The effect of calling someone by their name humanizes the relationship—no matter how brief or seemingly insignificant the moment.  Yes, this was just a meal at a fast food restaurant.  But as I sat eating, I was also observing the manager:  Cody Northern, working hard—talking to the customers, cleaning the tables, asking customers if they want refills on their drinks.  I heard him gently advising a young employee to train his eye to make sure the tables are in order… etc, etc.  You could really see that the manager takes great pride in his restaurant—as he should.  He was creating a very friendly atmosphere with a focus on serving his customers. 

I would never have bothered to observe any of this had the cashier not called me by name to humanize my visit to Chick-fil-A. 

So, next time you meet a stranger—take the time to learn their name. It makes the person feel important and it indicates to that person that you value human relationships. 

In my case—odds are very high I will be loyal to this particular Chick-fil-A restaurant by visiting again and again—because they proved they value my business.

Story 2.
Preface:  I remember with strange fondness the foul odor of a rotting fish in my backyard a week ago today.  That rotting fish was the inspiration for me to begin this blog.  Thank goodness for that fish. 

Swedish Fish to celebrate 1 week anniversary of this blog

I was returning home, about to drive up my driveway into the garage.  Except I couldn’t because there was a car parked horizontally, blocking most of my driveway. 

This was the last straw for me.  First the mysterious rotting fish in my backyard last week.  Now this?  I got out of the car, refused to take a deep breath and approached the neighbor’s house, pretty steamed.  I thought about Dale Carnegie’s Principle 10:  The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.  (From How to Win Friends and Influence People) But that principle went out the window—because I was knocking at the neighbor’s door and I wasn’t leaving until I confronted the neighbors.

I had no idea what I was going to say and despite being steamed I knew I needed to use the Dale Carnegie principles.  Somehow I managed to come up with:

Hi—I’m your neighbor next door.  I’m afraid I’m not a very good driver and I don’t want to hit your car as I try to squeeze through up my driveway.  Is there anyway you could move the car?

They apologized profusely.  I said—oh no problem.  And I’m sorry to interrupt your Saturday night movie.  We ended up talking for a few minutes—catching up on each other’s lives—it turned out to be a very pleasant experience. 

There are multiple principles I used from Dale Carnegie. 

From How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 8.  Talk in terms of the other person’s interests. 
Principle 13.  Begin in a friendly way.
Principle 20.  Dramatize your ideas.

From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Don’t worry about the past.

I began in a friendly way, dramatizing the idea that given my poor driving skills I will likely hit their car—so they probably want to move it out of harm’s way.  By having a friendly conversation—the moment was humanized—these are people just like me.  They have faces and names.  There was no need to worry about last week’s mysterious rotting fish that was at the side of my house.  It could have been anyone that tossed it into my yard.

So remember—if you find yourself in a position that you need to confront someone—take a deep breath, remember they are human and approach them in the same courteous way you would like to be treated.  Most people will respond in a reasonable way with this approach and you will avoid an unnecessary battle or feud.

2 thoughts on “Day 8. Ode to the rotting fish and my name sure sounds sweet to the ear…

  1. Denise, nothing happens until someone decides to do something. Thank you for taking the lead on organizing the meetings for the reunions. I am enjoying getting to know the mischievous side of you as well as the Carnegie side. You have broken the code on how to make your day go better. It isn’t what happens to us that matters. It is how do we react to what happens that determines who we are.

  2. Tim–
    I coudn’t have said it better– I did break the secret code on how to make the day go better. I’m so grateful you and Frank invested your time and energy in creating such a positive environment for us to learn. That made all the difference.

    Hmm…. me mischievous? Yes! But at least they have now been warned.

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