365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles
Day 34. April 28, 2011
A couple months ago I heard some disturbing news at work about “Samantha”, one of our customers. Samantha was on her way to overnight a package to me—when she received news that her husband was in a near fatal motorcycle accident.
Samantha’s husband wasn’t wearing a helmet. You can use your imagination when thinking about what happens when a person hits the pavement while riding fast on a motorcycle. He received incredible injuries to his face and head. He nearly lost his eye.
What do you say to a customer whose husband is in the ICU? What do you say when you don’t really know this customer other than through email? Well, at the time, I was enrolled in the Dale Carnegie course. So I did my best to respond—I was super awkward but sincere.
I didn’t know her faith, her religion, her values or beliefs. I really didn’t know her—other than I work with her on specific projects via email.
I didn’t want my email to be an empty, standard form-letter type of response. I took a leap of faith and expressed my thoughts to her. I told her I would pray for her and her husband.
And I did pray for them.
A few weeks later she called me—we have never spoken on the phone. She was apologetic for not sending the package! I told her forget the package—how’s her husband? We talked for a bit and I took a brave leap into the unknown by telling her I would continue to pray for her and her husband.
I continue to check in on her at random times—by sending emails with subject lines: “Just checking in.” I begin my emails by saying, “I saw a motorcyclist the other day and thought of your husband. How is he doing?” There is a definite clumsiness about my emails—they are short but friendly—and on familiar terms—as if I have known her for years – despite the fact I wouldn’t know her in a crowd. When I proof my emails to her before pressing “Send” I think geesh—I look like a novice trying to come off human and warm. I hit send anyway and hope I didn’t say something stupid.
And each time she responds back—so grateful to hear from me (of all people!) Honestly—I’m not sure who is touched more by this exercise in humanity—me or her.
The Dale Carnegie principle I used is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Create happiness for others.
Sometimes it’s a real stretch to create happiness for someone else—especially a stranger—because it requires you to put yourself in the vulnerable position of being human and caring. It is not easy. I know it! But when you take this chance and give of yourself – you find a different sort of happiness. It’s not a shallow or brief moment of happiness. It’s genuine and rich.
I love food analogies—so it’s like having prime rib instead of SPAM.