Thursday, 2 February 2012

Midweek update: How to Win Friends and Influence People

Greetings, ladies and gentlemen. May I draw your attention to the lovely buttons just above this paragraph. This past week I dredged my memory for HTML coding knowledge and managed to insert a few handy buttons so you can share my posts with all your friends. So please feel free.  Like the post on Facebook. Tweet it. Click all 4 buttons! Go nuts! You'll feel better.

The Carnegie Project

Writing this blog has been an interesting experiment for me.  I started it originally to learn about using social media, gain an audience, network, improve my writing skills, get some consulting experience and document the many things I've learned in the process. Well this week my lovely wife Sherri suggested that it might be both interesting and appropriate to embark on a project and share my progress on the blog so everyone can follow along. Incidentally I think this is a good idea.

Over Christmas I had my good friend Matt suggest a book for me to read.  The classic: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I tend to read books very quickly and I sped through the first half of the book in a few days. It's exceptionally practical, though I'm sure that parts should be taken with a grain of salt, as it were. I felt very challenged as I was reading through it because the principles in the book aren't just about presenting yourself in a more appealing manner, they are about being a more appealing person.

Anyway, I've decided to re-read the book and try to apply the principles, going at a rate of a chapter or two per week.  I will document my progress and reflections here in the Mid-week update. I call it The Carnegie Project [TCP]. I hope you all find it interesting.  If you want to follow along, the e-book is here.


TCP: Principle 1: Don't Criticize, Condemn or Complain 

Carnegie's first principle is really tough for me to swallow. Essentially, "If you want to gather honey don't kick over the beehive" as he puts it.  His reasoning is that pretty much everyone on earth is thirsting for approval and in dread fear of condemnation. Criticism engenders resentment in the people criticized, and is often ineffective for changing behaviour.

I'm slightly resistant to this new idea
I see.

I'm still trying to wrap my mind around this one. It seems to me that there is a time and a place for criticism. That sometimes people need a wake-up call.  Still I think the main reason this is hard for me to swallow is that I can be very critical, especially when I see things that are just wrong.

Thinking about it, I guess Carnegie has a point. A few years ago I had a falling out with some leaders of an organization that I was pretty deeply involved with. Without going into too much detail I saw that their actions were going to end with the loss of what made the organization special, including most of the work that I had put into it. I was really upset and openly critical of the leaders. I don't think they ever quite got over that.

I was right, in the end, but looking back, it didn't matter. I didn't change anything. And after it all played out and I had lost what I had worked so hard for, I faced a hidden undercurrent of opposition from the leaders until I finally left the organization.

Reminds me of that Maya Angelou quote I made reference to before:
At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel. 
Well, looks like I have a starting point - don't be critical. We'll see how I do with this over the next week.

In other news

  • Hey speaking of communication, there's a communications seminar I'm helping to organize this weekend with guest speaker Ron Thiessen. We had him in to lead a seminar last semester on negotiation, and he's graciously coming back to teach on a subject that is even more his forte: Communication.  If you're a Concordia graduate student, sign up with GradProSkills
  • I started applying for jobs.  It seems strange after nearly 2 years in school that I'm now almost at the point of being done.  If you have any leads let me know!
  • Fun fact: It's a common misconception that 80-90% of restaurants fail in their first year. A banker tried to tell me this the other day in explaining why banks don't give small business loans to restaurants. According to a paper by Parsa et al (2005) the number is closer to 26% in the first year and 60% in the first 3 years.
Now I have to go write 15 pages of executive summary for my research paper.  Cheers!

References


Parsa, HG, Self, JT, Njite, D & King, T. (2005). Why Restaurants Fail. Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly. 46(3). 304.

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