365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles
Day 21. April 15, 2011
I was in a meeting with an associate named Felix. Felix began huffing and puffing—he was complaining about pretty much everything. We were discussing upcoming projects that would involve some careful planning and every suggestion I made was shot down instantly.
Before I took the Dale Carnegie course the scenario would have taken this path:
“What if we take this approach, Felix?”
Felix would reply, “No, that won’t work because of XYZ….”
Then Felix would proceed to talk on and on in a manner that would discourage me or that would get me fired up to defend my position. Either way, the outcome was never a positive experience. And after a few days, Felix would eventually come around to my way of thinking. But until that day came, I would stew over Felix’s stinging, provoking words. I would put way too much energy into thinking about Felix’s actions towards me.
But having taken the Dale Carnegie course, the scenario happened differently. To be clear, it was not easy to change my approach. Old habits are not easy to break.
I took a deep breath. I let Felix do all the talking. Mentally, I gave myself a pep talk as the man continued to breathe fire at me. My demeanor was calm, peaceful. I was standing firm in remaining professional and unaffected. As Felix complained and noticed I wasn’t reacting, he seemed at a loss. He had nothing more to say. I didn’t give him what he wanted. Instead my neutral reaction made him look foolish. Once the storm of complaints passed from his lips—I responded in a calm tone by saying, “no problem.” And I moved on to another subject matter. Minutes later the meeting was over. I returned to my desk, sat down and took a real deep breath.
Now for the real challenge.
Would I sit at my desk and stew over Felix’s words? Would I let Felix have control over the outcome of the rest of my day? I prayed I had enough inner strength to not let Felix steal my happiness.
I even went outside and picked a rose from a huge rose bush nearby. I must have smelled the scent right out of that rose in an effort to control my thoughts and mood. I returned to my office, rose in hand, turned on the radio to listen to my favorite tunes, and sat happily as I worked at my desk.
I control my happiness. Not any other human being. Period.
The Dale Carnegie principles I exercised today are from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 10. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
Principle 11. Show respect for the other person’s opinion. Never say “you’re wrong.”
Principle 15. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
- Keep busy.
- Don’t fuss about trifles.
- Fill your mind with thoughts of peace, courage, health and hope.
- Expect ingratitude.
- Do the very best you can.
Even though today was not easy—I derive particular joy from my accomplishment of not letting another individual’s negative mood or behavior affect me.
Remember, the next time someone tries their best to drag you down with their words of criticism toward you, your work or of life in general—stay strong against their actions. When you take this approach, you are taking positive action toward controlling how you want to live your life not how someone else wants you to live.