Day 122. By listening respectfully, I won my associate over to my way of thinking.

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles
Day 122. Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It was around 3 pm that Carl arrived at work. He walked into my office rather abruptly. “Here are the changes to my manuscript, Smiling Daffodil.”

I looked at Carl with friendliness hoping to get some positive feedback . Instead, Carl dashed out of my office.

I sat at my desk and thumbed through the manuscript. There were a handful of changes. I couldn’t decipher Carl’s handwritten changes that he wanted me to make.

I decided to race to the front door of the building hoping to catch Carl before he left. I hoped to sit down with him and review the changes.

As I was waiting I was thinking through my approach. Carl and I don’t necessarily get along too well. I have a reputation for lacking interpersonal skills….

I said a quick prayer—because I’m really anxious to see this manuscript go to print. The only way this can happen is if I understand the changes. The only way I can understand the changes is by having a friendly dialogue.

Carl approached the front of the building where I was waiting. I gave Carl a warm smile and said—“hi Carl! Do you have time to go over the changes together? I want to be sure I make the changes correctly.”

Carl’s demeanor was friendlier than when he was in my office.

We flipped through each page… I asked questions and made notes.

We reached one section in the manuscript and Carl said—“these images are pointless. I’m going to send new images.”

He proceeded to explain how much better his images would be.

I listened patiently.

You see—he was insulting images that I took great care in putting together. I even sought the advice of another coworker to make sure these particular images explained a technical concept correctly because the concept was over my head.

After listening to Carl’s explanation—I began, “Carl, understand I don’t know anything about the subject matter in this book…”

Carl interrupted—“nonsense, yes you do!”

I continued, “Well, I’m really not an expert in the least. But in putting the book together, this particular chapter was very technical. For someone who doesn’t understand the subject matter—I thought these images—although they conveyed a basic concept—might be helpful to beginners reading your book. I could be wrong—but it sounds like the images you are going to send are going to demonstrate an entirely different concept that comes up later in the chapter.”

Carl listened and said in a friendly tone, “yes you’re right. Go ahead and leave your images and I’ll send my images that will be used in a different section.”

We continued going through the manuscript and Carl even commented that I did a good job conveying a particular concept in another chapter. I thanked him and admitted it was hard to do but I was pleased with the outcome.

Don’t leave the outcome of meetings up to chance. Implement Dale Carnegie’s principles.

The Dale Carnegie principles I used today are from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely.

My approach before taking the Dale Carnegie course is to argue or shut down when I disagree. But today I was able to see the value of letting the other person do most of the talking. I let Carl know I deferred to his judgment and insisted on writing down verbatim the text changes he wanted. I did all this sincerely and with a positive attitude. The outcome was a very cooperative author who felt important and was willing to do some work by providing new images in the next few days.

My lesson to you—you probably have similar “Carls” in your life—and in many ways we all behave this way. We all like to feel important. We like to be heard. Give these individuals an opportunity to do a great deal of the talking—even if you disagree with what they are saying or they are insulting your work. Listen to their words instead of thinking of what you are going to argue back. Then when you have an opportunity to speak—don’t attack. Ask more questions to clarify, then give your perspective. This approach will lead to a friendlier dialogue and in my case—progress on the manuscript.

Will this approach work with every Carl? Maybe not—but it’s worth trying instead of beginning a conversation by saying the other person is wrong.

Housekeeping / Notes
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