By Julie Cotant
For the past 7 years, I have been fortunate enough to teach the Dale Carnegie Human Relations and Communications Course©, started by Dale Carnegie in 1912. The course boasts famous graduates such as Mary Kay, Dave Thomas (of Wendy’s), Lee Iacocca, Orville Redenbacher, Emeril Lagasse, and is the only diploma displayed on Warren Buffett’s office walls. This past Thursday, as I left the fourth session of my current class, I found myself yet again in awe of the power of Mr. Carnegie’s wisdom.
As part of the course, class members are introduced to Mr. Carnegie’s “Human Relations Principles” that promise to help improve one’s interactions with others. On Thursday, the class members were asked to come to class with an example of how one of the first nine principles, entitled “How to Become a Friendlier Person,” helped them improve a relationship in their everyday lives. These nine principles are:
1. Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.
2. Give honest, sincere appreciation.
3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.
4. Become genuinely interested in other people.
6. Remember that a person’s name is the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
7. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
8. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
9. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.
One of my class members, Rose, talked about how she made a deliberate effort to refrain from criticizing or condemning a contractor with whom she works. The contractor never quite got the job done correctly, and caused endless frustration for Rose. Prior to taking the class, Rose would respond by pointing out everything the contractor did wrong. Things would get fixed after the scolding, but nothing was ever done correctly the first time. Rose committed to use Principle #1 and rather than criticizing the contractor’s work, she focused on the things that were right, with gentle mentions of areas needing improvement. As a result, the relationship was transformed to one of mutual respect, and more impressively, the contractor began submitting better work product.
How amazing that these “common sense” principles, still applicable 100 years after Mr. Carnegie developed them, can have such extraordinary effects on our ability to get the best out of ourselves and others. When we alter our attitudes and behaviors in a positive way and at the same time positively effect those around us, we may even find it impacts our bottom line.