Day 45: Abraham Lincoln kept me from getting into a fight via email.


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 45.  Monday, May 9, 2011
I sent an email to Bob today:
Hi Bob,
I’m putting together a marketing campaign for the soon to be released product XYZ.  I am hoping you can assist me.  Do you have a promo available for the product?  I’d love to put it on our website.

Thank you!
Smiling Daffodil.

Bob’s response:
Hi Smiling Daffodil,
I have attached a photo showing the CD your office should have received back in March.  Let me know if you are unable to locate the CD—if you can’t, I guess I can send you the very last CD I have.

Sincerely,
Bob

It was at this point I decided to take a break and go get some chocolate.  As you can imagine—my natural instinct was to email Bob a snide remark or two or three.  Instead I remembered Dale Carnegie quoting Abraham Lincoln, “Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.”

After going out to get some fresh air and some chocolate I decided the best approach is to not respond to Bob today.  I have also come up with material I can use for the marketing campaign that doesn’t interrupt Bob’s busy schedule. 

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

The background to the story—the CD that Bob sent back in March was lost by an associate.  I didn’t want to throw my associate under the bus.  Before my associate accidentally misplaced the CD, I did review it—and it wasn’t a promo video.  In addition—I didn’t point out to Bob that he could easily copy the CD.  Or even ftp the files to the server.  These were all glaringly obvious options to someone who is moderately tech savvy but I concluded from Bob’s email that he wasn’t too skilled in these areas.  So I have opted to gather marketing materials from other sources.

The lesson I want you to take from this story—it can be difficult dealing with people with skill levels and aptitudes that may not be on par with yours.  There’s no point in making them feel small, incapable or inferior.  Remind yourself that they are probably very skilled and have great abilities in other areas.  In fact, they probably excel in areas that you do not.  When you take this approach you are able to stay focused on getting work done without wasting time on pettiness, negativity or blame.

Day 21. Do you know someone that seems to live just to frustrate you? Try this approach.


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. 

Dale Carnegie helps me to smell the roses

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.
  • Pray.
  • 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.

Day 20. Ordering a chicken strip combo meal turned into an ideal opportunity to use the Dale Carnegie principles


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 20.  April 14, 2011 
It was 5:15 pm as I walked into Church’s Fried Chicken in a rough part of the city.  I looked at the cashier and hesitated—waiting for her to greet me— or at least speak to me.  I found myself getting irritated by the lack of enthusiasm for my business.

I proceeded to order a chicken strip combo meal.  She behaved completely disinterested in the transaction.   

As I was filling my cup with ice—the cashier sighed heavily.  I thought to myself—here’s my opportunity to practice the Dale Carnegie principles. 

I said to the cashier, “has it been a long day?” 

Her demeanor softened and she said, “yes.” 

She explained that while her shift started an hour ago—she has a 5 month old baby at home that’s keeping her very busy.  Not to mention three other little children.  I proceeded to ask questions here and there—showing interest. 

I asked, “do you at least live nearby?”

“Yes, about 10 -20 minutes from here,” she replied.   

“Ah, that must be nice—I live about 30 miles from here.” 

We talked for several minutes as my chicken strips were getting fried.  She asked where I worked and what I do. 

As she was bagging the food she asked with particular care if I wanted any hot sauce or ketchup.  She handed me my food and said warmly—“see you next time!”

 

As I walked to my car I thought to myself—using the Dale Carnegie principles is like taking candy from a baby.  It doesn’t get any easier than this to change an indifferent moment or even a negative experience into something positive.  You just have to put the effort into taking action.  Everything else will fall into place.

Candy buttons

The Dale Carnegie principle I used today is from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 4.  Become genuinely interested in other people. 
Principle 7.  Be a good listener.  Encourage others to talk about themselves.
Principle 8.  Talk in terms of the other person’s interests. 

When you encounter an individual who is grumpy, negative or indifferent—you’ll find it takes very little effort to transform their demeanor simply by showing them genuine interest.  When you take this approach—you will experience the similar pleasure I did—of knowing you caused that transformation.