Day 124. If you find people perceive you as unapproachable you might want to try this technique.


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 124. Thursday, July 28, 2011
My office phone rang this afternoon. I looked at the Caller ID. I decided to answer the phone in a very friendly way. Typically when I answer the phone—I’m very serious and perhaps a little too grave.

Finally! My childhood are being put to good use!

It was my boss calling in to check on how things were going at the office. He has been out of town all week for a business meeting and this is the first communication I’ve received from him all week.

Cole: “How are things going Smiling Daffodil?”

Typically I respond to these questions with a simple statement like, “things are fine.”
And usually the conversation crumbles at this point because Cole never knows how to follow up with my very short answer.

But today was different. I responded with my usual “things are fine” statement and then proceeded to give bullet point highlights from the week in an upbeat tone of voice. Cole responded favorably and even mentioned some emails that I sent him this week and thanked me for the updates.

Cole gave me an update on how his meeting was going and we wrapped up the conversation in a positive tone.

The Dale Carnegie principle I used in this very short story is from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 13. Begin in a friendly way.

On the surface this story sounds very simple and hardly worth mentioning. But I really am a very quiet, serious individual. It’s not that I’m upset—it’s just that I’m not generally bubbly. Because of my serious demeanor I tend to have a reputation of being unapproachable—which is understandable given my very short responses to questions. So going out of my way to be friendly with my boss on the phone was indeed very important.

My lesson to you is similar to yesterday’s story. If you want people to be friendly to you—you have to be friendly to them. And to do this effectively you must be sincere in your approach—you cannot be fake or flatter the other person because they will see right through your behavior. When you take the sincere, friendly approach you’ll discover other people will have a more positive perception of you, they’ll be less critical and you’ll have fewer reasons to grumble about at the end of the day.

Housekeeping / Notes:
The Smiling Daffodil’s blog has moved into a bigger home!  This will be the last post on this blog hosted by WordPress.  Please visit this very same blog at the new location:

www.365daysofdalecarnegie.com/

Day 74. I messed up by not using Dale Carnegie’s principles when talking with “Gasoline with Match Lady”


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 74.  Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Preface:  I was embarrassed to post this blog on Monday.  So I posted an alternate event that happened on the same day.  After consideration—I do want to share the originally planned story.  The Tuesday entry will follow.  (Just read the whole thing—it comes together nicely)

Monday:
Today’s entry might not count. I didn’t use Carnegie principles well—if at all.

This woman we will call Gasoline with Match Lady—emailed me on (Monday) morning and copied my boss. She was complaining I hadn’t answered an email.  It’s true. I hadn’t. But the ball was not in my court— it was in management’s.

I decided to ignore Gasoline’s email until 4 pm. (Really smart, I know.)  The emails between us were turning tense fast.  I knew better— but I picked up the phone and called Gasoline. I figured it would be easier to talk to her in person. And it would have been. Except both of our tempers were—well… boiling.

We talked in circles. We were not communicating on the same level. Since we weren’t hearing each other our voices got higher and higher.  It was getting stupid.

At odds with each other

I tried to think through my words but I was at a loss. After she lectured me I replied I wasn’t put on this planet to serve so-and-so. It was at this point I think we both ran out of energy and talked more civilly.  I asked her to provide suggestions. I tried not to shoot them down immediately. I listened, asked questions and we both arrived at the same conclusion: sleep on it.

Frankly I think I did everything wrong when it comes to using the Dale Carnegie principles. I knew better than to approach Gasoline with Match Lady on a Monday.  I was irritated by her attempt at making me look bad with my boss. So learn from me:  When you criticize, condemn or complain—most people—even Smiling Daffodil, will do everything possible to dig their heels in, close down or fight back. What a waste of energy.

For my part, I should have used Dale Carnegie’s principle from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Don’t fuss about trifles. 

Because quite frankly the subject matter that Gasoline with Match Lady and I were arguing about was just that—a silly marketing trifle. 

Now read on!  I’m really proud of this!

Tuesday:
Today I made the dreaded phone call to Gasoline with Match Lady.  I asked her if she had a chance to sleep on the marketing problem from yesterday and she said she did.  But she didn’t have a solution and she proceeded to state the problem that we were already very familiar with.

I made light of the matter by saying the solution was right under our nose.  I proceeded to spell out the details of the marketing program that would solve our problem.  I discussed the concept in a friendly way, pointing out that she had already done much of the work.

Once I was finished presenting the solution, she agreed enthusiastically.  We were both stunned by the contrast between today’s phone conversation and yesterday’s. 

The Dale Carnegie principles I used are from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 13.  Begin in a friendly way.

From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Write out and answer the following questions:
a.      What is the problem?
b.      What are the causes of the problem?
c.       What are the possible solutions?
d.      What is the best possible solution?

My judgment was too clouded on Monday to list possible solutions to the problem.  In fact, I made it worse by talking to Gasoline with Match Lady.  So I decided to box up the problem, put it on a shelf in my head and revisit it in the morning with a clearer head.  When you take a similar approach, you will find the answer to your problem is very obvious. 

Housekeeping / Notes
Wednesday is the big day for the guest blogger!  I am certain you will enjoy his post.  So be sure to allocate enough time to read TWO blogs.  : )
Don’t forget—the Smiling Daffodil’s blog is big enough for a whole garden of guest bloggers.   Looking forward to hearing from you!

Day 32. The Dale Carnegie Principles kept me from getting into fight with the President of the Homeowner’s Association Part 2 of the Lassie Story


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 32.  April 26, 2011
Preface:  Please read Part 1 of the Lassie Story first.  Fans of the blog have given it a top rating, it features some great Carnegie lessons and Part 2 will make more sense.   

Unexpected discovery on Easter

It was 7:45 am on Monday—and I decided to call the animal hospital before they close for the day.  “Hi—I’m the woman that found the sheltie—did anyone claim him yet?”

 The operator responded, “No—not yet.”

“Ok, I replied.  I’m going to knock on doors in the neighborhood and post signs.”

“Oh, that would be great.” said the operator.

I put on some nice clothes and set out on my mission.  I wanted to be sure I looked well put together so that people would be open to hearing what I had to say and not think I was soliciting.  (in other words… I put on my best pair of jeans, a nice t-shirt, my new shoes and a smile.)

I was certain I knew where the dog lived.  He lives at the house where I saw him circling the car.  I knocked on the door, smiled and asked the gentleman if he was missing a dog.  No, he wasn’t.

I was not expecting this answer.  I was rather stunned. 

So I tried some other homes.  I was getting one of two response—either no one was home or they weren’t missing a dog. 

What was striking about this experience was how friendly and appreciative the neighbors were.  They were grateful I was on a mission to find the dog’s owner.  To me this was an obvious course of action—I promised the dog I’d find his owner and I fully intended to follow through.  Personally, I go nuts losing anything

After awhile I realized I needed to treat this task like a marketing campaign.  I decided to strategically post my waterproof signs throughout the neighborhood.  (I made the signs waterproof by sealing them in clear plastic bags.)  I taped the signs on the lampposts and stop sign posts.  I even went to the local gas station and gave the cashier one of my flyers. 

Then as I was taping a sign on one of the most frequented light posts in the neighborhood… a woman drove up beside me.  She said to me in her British accent… “you can’t post signs.”

I had a split second to react…

I turned to her and calmly said… “what would you suggest?  I found a dog last night and I’m trying to find the owner.” 

She gave me her business card and said I could visit the Homeowner’s Association website and post information there.  Her name, of course, was the infamous, “Betty Lou”. 

I have never met Betty Lou in person but I am well acquainted with her.  I am certain this woman watches every move I make.  She sends me postcards in the mail letting me know I have weeds in my flowerbeds and I need to remove them.  She lets me know I left my trash bin outside on a day other than trash day and that I must remove the bin immediately or pay fines.

She is President of the Homeowner’s Association—and I have the privilege of paying her salary and the services she diligently provides. 

I remove the sign, dejected.  I start scanning my memory for a Dale Carnegie principle to get me through this.  I manage to amuse myself by concluding she and her staff are very efficient.  Their very existence is to make sure no one breaks rules.  I can appreciate they don’t want to junk up lampposts.  After all  look at how pretty all the lampposts are without signs… (well, except for the lampposts that still have my signs plastered on them…)

I decide to outsmart Betty Lou.  There are no rules against putting flyers on doors—I know that for a fact because I get flyers daily. 

So I walk the neighborhood putting flyers under doormats, carefully positioning the flyers so that the homeowners see the dog’s photo first.  There are a lot of homes with signs—“no solicitors, no flyers.”  I decide the signs aren’t directed to me—I’m doing a public service.  So I continue my mission.

I found a house with the fence fallen over from the storm.  The owner had a door mat that said “Wipe your paws.”   I can picture the sheltie living here.  This must the house.  I knock on the door—no answer.  I left a flyer under the mat.

As I’m walking—I see a woman—and approach her with a smile.  No, she hasn’t lost a dog.. but there’s a neighbor three houses away that did lose a dog!

I raced over to the house and knocked on the door with anticipation.  No one answered the door.  I left a flyer under the mat.

By this time it’s 11 am.  I decide I’ve done enough for the day and I’m late enough for work.

Once at work, I call the Homeowner’s Association to find out where I could post information on their website.  I spoke with “Patricia”.  I told her the entire story about Lassie—the Easter dog I found.  She was completely sympathetic.  

“It even knows tricks…I’m sure someone is missing their dog,” I tell Patricia. 

 “Oh yes, no doubt”, she replied.  

Patricia gets information on the dog just in case someone calls looking for him.  At one point in the conversation I hesitate—and said, “I’m going to get in trouble with you…. You see, I posted signs on lampposts.  I know I’m not supposed to… but I feel so bad for the dog and the dog’s owner.  I have a dog too and if I lost my dog… I would hope someone did the same for me….”

Patricia said.. oh, don’t you worry.  I would have done the same.  The worst that will happen is that they remove the signs.  But it will be ok.” 

 “Oh thank you,” I said to Patricia. 

 ———
It’s evening now and I’m driving into my neighborhood.  My heart sinks.  ALL the waterproof signs I lovingly posted on lampposts and stop sign posts are gone.  I wanted to cry.  Really?  Do you not have a heart Betty Lou and your minions?  (Patricia is excluded from this group of course)

As I am checking my mail a neighbor drives by—and asks if I found the dog’s owner yet.  I was touched he cared enough to ask and he expressed his gratitude for my mission.

After having dinner I went to the store to pick up a stuffed animal toy for the dog.  Then driving over to the vet, I remembered I held the dog in my arms.  He knows my scent.  I decide to rub the stuffed animal on me—so that my scent is on the toy.  This way, he will be comforted with a familiar scent. 

I walked into the animal hospital and the same technician from the night before greeted me.  She said…we have good news!  We found the owner!

“Thank God!” I replied. 

The technician said, “you were his guardian angel!  We called the owner and he insisted the dog was home.  We explained we tracked him down with the microchip in the dog and the owner admitted he was out of town until Wednesday.  The dog must have escaped somehow.  So the dog will remain with us until then.” 

I smiled completely unaffected by the carelessness of the owner to leave a dog alone for three days.  I was just relieved I was able to keep my word with the dog to reunite him with his owner. 

Before leaving I told the technician, “I brought a toy for the dog.”

The technician replied, “oh, I’ll make sure the dog goes home with it!” 

I handed her the little stuffed lamb I carefully selected for the sheltie.  

A variety of Dale Carnegie principles were used in this story:
From How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 5.  Smile.
Principle 10.  The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
Principle 13.  Begin in a friendly way.
Principle 19.  Appeal to the nobler motives.
Principle 18.  Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.

From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
–          Live in “day-tight compartments.”
–          Do the very best you can.
–          Put enthusiasm into your work.

 I did not let the Homeowners Association prevent me from executing my plan of action.  When they tried to stop me—I found creative ways to comply with the rules while still keeping focused on my goal.  I was even able to convince Patricia, an employee with the Association that breaking the rules did make sense in this case. 

In this story enthusiasm trumped everything.  I was no longer nervous about knocking on strangers’ doors, interrupting their mornings and asking them if they lost a dog.  I was able to think creatively and strategically—from waterproof signs, to observing which homes had fallen fences to posting signs at busy traffic areas. 

You might ask why I didn’t just wait a day or two to see if the microchip had current contact information on the owner.  I couldn’t bear to think of the owner being worried sick about his/her missing dog.  I would want someone to do the same for me.  I even planned for the worst—I was thinking of individuals who could adopt the dog. 

If you take anything from this story—I hope it is this—approach a task with enthusiasm.  When you approach a task with enthusiasm you will accomplish things you never would have imagined.

Day 22. Let the other person save face.


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 22.  April 16, 2011 
I was driving through a neighborhood in Frisco this morning.  I was trying to find a house on ABC Lane.  I found ABC Lane but I could not find the right house number. 

I was baffled.  Am I an idiot?  Am I incapable of following MapQuest directions?  Besides all these concerns… it’s 9:15 am.  I’m late by 15 minutes.  I HATE being late.

I double checked the email my friend Meredith sent with the address details. 

I concluded it was technically impossible for there to be a house that matched the address I had: 502 ABC Lane.  There was1001 ABC Lane, 1002 ABC Lane, etc.  And ABC Lane was a very short street.  I even tried another street ADC Lane—thinking maybe she goofed on the street name.

I decide to call my friend whom I am meeting at this house.  I began with a cheerful voice which is unusual for me so early in the morning.  I said “hi Meredith, I think I’m here—but I can’t seem to find the house.  Is the address 502 ABC Lane?”  

Meredith replies, “yes it is.  Just look for my car.”

I hesitate and ask, “what city?”

Meredith replied, “it’s in Plano.”

(Plano is about a half hour away)

In the past my tone of voice might have changed dramatically at this point.  You see, her email indicated the house was in Frisco. 

Let the other person save face-- dont make them wither.

“Oh!”  I say in a pleasant voice.  “Well, I’m going to be a bit late—I somehow ended up in Frisco.  Please don’t wait on me to eat breakfast—enjoy your meal I will get there when I can.”

When I met up with Meredith I didn’t point out the address being wrong.  I didn’t justify myself for being late.  The morning and day went on quite happily.

The Dale Carnegie Principle I used is from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 26.  Let the other person save face.

When someone makes a mistake such as giving an incorrect address—take a moment to look at the big picture before you blame, yell or make the person feel small.  Mistakes happen and in the grand scheme of things it’s a minor inconvenience that you can look back upon with humor.  After all, can you imagine what it would have been like if there had been a home on 502 ABC Lane in Frisco? 

Me:  “Hi, I’m here to visit Meredith!” 

Stranger living on 502 ABC Lane in Frisco:  “Who is Meredith and why are you knocking on my door at 9 am?”

Day 14. Try this approach when you’re tempted to bite someone’s head off just because it’s the morning


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 14.  April 8, 2011 
Before taking the Dale Carnegie course, I would have approached this day differently.  To me this day has two tasks that must be completed.  Absolutely everything else is trivial because I don’t go home until these two tasks are finished.  Period.

But having taken the Dale Carnegie course, I am more aware of my surroundings and the effect my attitude and behavior has on the people in it.  Grumble.  This is a horse pill to swallow and without water.  You see, having focus gets the job done—but it doesn’t often endear you to other people if you come off cold.  Plus people tend to fear their heads will get bitten off as they tip-toe around you.

I prepared myself for this day by skipping the gym the night before and trying to get to bed a bit earlier than usual.  On the drive to work I prayed then I listened to a CD on personal development.  You would think given these precautions it’s easy for me to be a ray of sunshine in the morning.  Ha.

Cautiously my coworker—Marcella suggested I go get my Java Chip Frappuccino before we begin working on a project together.  (That’s code for you’re probably going to be crabby until you have your precious drink).  I smile and say I’m ready to begin the project without the drink.

As we begin to work on the project together I decided to try to see things from Marcella’s perspective.  I decided to point out specific elements of Marcella’s work that I really liked.  I was sincere in my words—I really cannot swing flattery and I’d rather say nothing at all if it comes off fake or insincere.

The result of my actions towards Marcella created a positive, relaxed and dare I say it—fun atmosphere—and it was done without the help of a Java Chip Frappuccino—which I have to say probably startled us both.  All it took was a firm resolve to change.

The Dale Carnegie principles I used this morning:
From Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 1.  Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.

Principle 13.  Begin in a friendly way.

From Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Pray.
Do the very best you can.
Protect your health and appearance by relaxing at home.

I rested the night before, mentally prepared myself this morning by praying.  By putting myself in Marcella’s shoes of being stuck with a grouch (me) I was more willing to surprise her and me by choosing to be a friendlier individual.  I even found reasons to praise her sincerely.

Not only did I get my two main tasks complete today but no one’s heads were bitten off.

So, remember, as stressful as a day might be—try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes to see what it would be like to have to work with a cold, head-biting individual (even if that individual is a hard worker).  Instead of biting their heads off, surprise them by beginning in a friendly way.  I guarantee you’ll enjoy the reaction.