The Apology Heard Around the World

You’ve probably heard the familiar saying, “Timing is everything.” When I hear that I joke with people and tell them, “That’s true unless you’re in real estate. Then it’s location, location, location.” As timing would have it, perhaps the most famous person alive gave the apology heard around the world last week. After months of speculation Tiger Woods finally addressed the public concerning his issues with infidelity. What’s this have to do with timing? It just so happens to coincide with the next bit of Dale Carnegie advice I was going to share – If you’re wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.

I wrote about the Tiger Woods’ situation in December, approaching it from the context of character. I tried to drive home that we can’t do anything about Tiger and all our water cooler talk is worthless. It turns out that all the speculation about Elin and his car accident were wrong if you believe Tiger’s apology. I’m going to take him at face value because part of the rehab process is coming clean with the truth and making amends. Assuming his account of that night is the truth then the media outlets and many people wasted a lot of time on that issue. The point of my post was simply this; we can use Tiger’s situation to reflect on ourselves and try to become better people.

The point of this week’s post is to get all of us to reflect on ourselves when we make a mistake. Lots of people think Tiger waited too long to apologize and that his words were not his own but those of a PR firm. That may be true or it may not. I don’t have a PR firm representing me and I bet you don’t either, so we don’t have to worry about that getting in the way of our credibility when we choose to apologize.

When we do make a mistake the quicker we own up to it the less time there is for speculation by others. Once people start down that path they begin to convince themselves they’re right. In Tiger’s case, no matter what he or Elin says about Thanksgiving night, many people are so firmly entrenched in what they believe happened that they might never believe anything different.
So how does this apply to you and I and what we can learn from all this? If we can prevent that speculation from taking root when we make mistakes then wouldn’t it be the smart thing to do? Here are a few examples of people who should have done just that. Not too long ago Alex Rodriguez came clean about steroids. The problem was, A-Rod lied to Katie Couric about it on national television when asked a few years earlier. The late admission was seen as a way to manage his career rather than a genuine apology for something he knew was wrong. Had he been truthful with her I think he would have been revered because he would have been the first baseball player to come forth without having the pressure of an investigation or congressional hearings.

Mark McGwire is in the same boat. Nobody is buying his apology because he lied to Congress about his steroid use. Had he admitted the truth at that time I think public opinion would be much better right now. As it is, most people see his apology as just the necessary step to get back into the game of baseball and possibly the hall of fame one day.

The American public is forgiving when people come clean about mistakes and back it up by living a changed life. I think on an individual level people are very much the same. When I’ve made mistakes and took steps to own up to them I’ve found people willing to extend grace to me. I think of the time when I was a jerk on the road driving in to work one morning. For quite some time I refused to let someone over as we approached the exit. I could have tapped the brakes, been a nice guy and let the driver over but I chose not to and eventually the driver got behind me. It turned out the person I was a jerk to happened to be a coworker who saw me pull into the parking lot. I knew he knew it was me on the highway so I made the choice to apologize. I got a very nice email from him saying we all make mistakes but he knew I was the kind of person who would own up to it. I think we’re better friends today than we were before the incident.

So here’s the bottom line. Don’t waste your time speculating on all the aspects of Tiger’s apology, his sincerity, when he’ll play again, if he and Elin will stay together, etc., because none of that will make you a better individual. Learn from his situation and use it to grow as a person. Next time you make a mistake own up to it quickly. Like anything, if you start with the small stuff it will make it easier when the bigger stuff comes around because you’ll have built character. Make that choice and you’ll become a person of authority and influence because you’ll have credibility.

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

Just a Little Respect Please

A few weeks ago we looked into some great advice for maintaining good relationships – avoid arguments whenever possible. This week we consider another Dale Carnegie tip that can make that a little easier –Show respect for other’s opinions and never say, “You’re wrong.”Aretha Franklin sang about R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Showing respect to someone is acknowledging their worth as a human being. We may not like the person we’re dealing with but we can still treat them with dignity. Think about how you’d want someone to treat a loved one; your spouse, a parent or your child. The person you’re dealing with probably falls into one of those categories and has someone who hopes they’re treated with respect.My worldview is a Christian one and my faith tells me all people are created in the image of God. It also teaches me that I’m to love my neighbor as myself. In light of those two tenents, showing respect for another person seems like the least I can do. You may not hold the same faith as I do but I hope you can agree that every human has value and should be treated with dignity and respect.When you don’t show respect you can be sure the other person won’t be open to listen and will probably just look for an opportunity to disrespect you. It becomes a game of “tit for tat” which accomplishes nothing.Now onto the second part of Carnegie’s advice, never say “You’re wrong.” What’s so bad about that? Sometimes people are flat out wrong! Someone might erroneously state something as fact when it can easily be proven to be incorrect. Example, “Ronald Reagan was the37th President of the United States.” It would not be incorrect to say, “You’re wrong. He was the 40th President. Google it and you’ll see.”However, let’s think about it for a moment. If your goal is to win friends and influence people (not make enemies and alienate others) then you might want to approach the situation a bit differently. It requires tact and strategy.First, never forget people have a vested interest in being right, especially when others are present. It can be embarrassing to know you made a mistake and it’s significantly worse when you feel others know about it. Saying, “You’re wrong” to someone is like pouring salt on a wound…it will produce a sharp reaction!Most people will naturally push back when pushed and that occurs emotionally as well as physically. When you tell people they’re wrong, they usually don’t want to give you the satisfaction of being right (winning) so they’ll look for any reason they might have been justified in what they said or did…no matter how wrong you might think they are. This happens naturally because of the psychological principle of consistency. People feel the need to be consistent in what they say and do so they’ll manufacture reasons to support their actions. If you recognize this you can work around it rather than against it.You and I might agree on many things that are wrong. For example, stealing. I bet everyone reading this would agree taking what’s not yours is wrong. However, even criminals quite often believe they were justified in breaking the law. Their reasons may not be valid to you but they have their reasons.Rather than confronting someone head on, try an end around. If you think someone is wrong, ask the person questions that might help you lead down a different path, one that might allow the individual to consider other alternatives. This is especially valuable because if a person feels he or she has discovered the solution, and it wasn’t forced upon them, they are more likely to change their mind. Remember, your goal isn’t to be right; it’s about preserving a relationship.Here would be a non-threatening way to approach the Reagan fact, “Really, President Reagan was the 37th President? I didn’t know that. Do you remember where you heard that or read it because I thought he was 40th or 41st. Now I’m curious. Wait a second and I’ll do a quick Google search on my phone and find out.” This never implies “You’re wrong and I’m right” and allows the person to save face if others are around.I assume you’re reading this blog because you want to improve your ability to communicate, learn to be persuasive, enjoy your relationships with other people more and have a little less stress. Making a choice to show respect for other’s opinions and never say, “you’re wrong,” will go a long ways towards making those goals become reality.Brian
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

Dale Carnegie and Sun Tzu on Avoiding Arguments

We’ve made some really good headway looking at tips from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. In case you’re a newer reader, below you’ll see what we’ve covered so far. Click on any tip and you’ll be taken to the Influence PEOPLE article for that piece of timeless advice from Dale Carnegie.

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
Give honest, sincere appreciation.
Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Six Ways to Make People Like You
Become genuinely interested in other people.
Remember their name.
Be a good listener & encourage others to talk about themselves.
Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
Make the other person feel important.

Now we move into the section of the book that teaches “How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking” and the advice we start with is probably Carnegie’s best advice – avoid arguments. Sounds easy enough but sometimes it seems unavoidable.
Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War, a book about conflict, sometime around 500 BC. He had this to say about fighting, “It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.” In a nutshell Sun Tzu is saying only pick the conflicts you know you can win or else avoid the conflict altogether. Arguing is a type of conflict and quite often it can be avoided IF you’re honest with yourself and your assessment of another. This is similar to the general knowing his army as well as the enemy’s. For us this simply means, if you know what sets you off you can avoid people or situations that are likely to make that happen. Let’s start with ourselves. Unfortunately, knowing yourself isn’t so easy. That’s why Ben Franklin said, “There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” We have blind spots and sometimes we don’t want to face the truth. But, if we’re willing to make the hard self-assessment we’ll come to learn our strengths and weaknesses.By the same token, when you know another person you can seek to avoid their triggers. Let’s consider the other person for a moment. It could be your spouse, boss or a friend but usually we have conflict with those who are closest to us. That’s just a sad fact of life. The good news is this; you probably know them well enough to know how to avoid the triggers that usually lead to conflict. For example, here’s one for the guys to avoid: You ask your wife to buy a case of Miller Light for$14.95, but instead she buys a jar of cold cream for $7.95. DON’T tell her the beer would make her look better at night than the cold cream! Ladies, you want to avoid telling Mr. Right he’s like a bank account – without money he doesn’t generate much interest.Both of those funny little jokes are sure to start an argument. Will you always avoid arguments? No. But, taking account of yourself and another can go a very long way to make the avoidance a reality. You could take the really high road and follow the advice Jesus gave his disciples, “Love your enemies.” Ouch, now that’s hard! Loving your enemies doesn’t mean feeling towards them the way you might with your parents, spouse or kids. No, love is a verb, a “doing” word. It’s placing the welfare of the other person above your own no matter the cost because it’s the right thing to do. Love your enemies and you won’t have enemies for long and you’ll have very few arguments.And think about this; who wins an argument? There’s always a jokester who says, “Me!” but in reality nobody wins. Oh sure, you may be “right” but is it worth it when being “right” damages or kills the relationship? Far too many people never speak to loved ones or friends because of arguments over things that seemed important but really weren’t. So resolve to yourself to do whatever is in your power to avoid arguing. That may mean having to let someone feel like they’re right. Big deal, especially if you know in your heart that you are right. Never lose sight of the goal, to win a friend or influence someone. ** FREE GIVE AWAY ** It would mean a lot to me if you’d help increase Influence PEOPLE readership by forwarding this blog to some friends or co-workers. Do so and you could win a copy of Dr. Cialdini’s book Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive. If you’re currently receiving email notification then you’re already registered to win! If you’ve not signed up for automatic notification then send me an email ( after you’ve shared the blog with someone and I’ll register you for the drawing. The lucky winner will be announced on next week’s posting. Thanks in advance, I appreciate your help! Brian
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

Make the Other Person Feel Important

We’ve been making our way through Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People as a way for you to become a more influential and persuasive person. The week we come to his last tip in the section of the book titled “Six Ways to Make People Like You.” The advice we’ll explore is, “Make the other person feel important.”

Are you important? I hope you said “Yes” to yourself! I’m important and you’re important. There’s never been another person quite like me or quite like you. We’re all unique individuals. Even identical twins, the most genetically close people in the world, are unique. Our importance may not be something people read about like the President of the United States, a famous actor or actress, an author or a well-known athlete but nonetheless we are important. Just ask your spouse, kids, parents, friends or coworkers.

Remember the classic Christmas movie It’s a Wonderful Life starring Jimmy Stewart? Stewart plays George Bailey, a man who has a crisis of faith when $8,000 is misplaced and he fears his business will close. He’s so distraught he contemplates suicide because he thinks it would have been better had he not been born. Thanks to the angel Clarence he realizes that was foolish thinking because small town George had a huge impact on the lives of people in his community.

I share this not to build you up or inflate my ego but because it leads to this – you and I are important and so is every other person you come in contact with…whether or not they realize it. That’s right; many people live their lives like George Bailey did for a few hours, feeling unimportant. But, if you and I believe they are important and treat them as such, great things can happen!

Let me share one quick story. I know a single lady in her 60s who is an important person. She’s divorced, has two grown kids and a couple of grandkids. She has a regular job and struggles to make ends meet like most people these days. She likes working in her yard and around her home and she’s always willing to help others. She’s a nice person, a nice neighbor to those who live near her. She’s not done anything that will make her famous but she’s important nonetheless. Who is this person? My mom, Ann Strausburg. If it were not for her I would not be here and you wouldn’t be reading this. My wife Jane might be married to someone else and my wonderful daughter Abigail would not have come into existence. From my limited perspective my mom is very important and I’m sure from God’s view, because He knows her full impact, He’d say she’s incredibly important!

I hope everyone treats my mom with the kind of respect she deserves. I bet you hope the same for your mom, dad, grandparents, kids or anyone else who is significant to you. If we hope that then we should do that. Every day as we meet people if we make them feel import they’ll sense that. Of course they’ll like us for it too.

Don’t you enjoy it when people treat you like you’re important? It can be humbling at times but I know I enjoy it and I bet you do too. If we enjoy it then why not spread the joy and allow others to feel the same way? Here are a few simple things anyone can do to convey a sense of importance to another person:

  • Show respect – Respect comes easily through good manners with phrases like, “Yes please,” “No thank you,” “Excuse me” and “Please forgive me.” These are simple and none assumes anything from the other person.
  • Use their name – As I shared in the article A Rose by Any Other Name, the sweetest sound to any person is the sound of their own name. People feel important when identified by name because it humanizes them.
  • Golden Rule – Treat people the way you’d like to be treated or the way you’d like someone to treat a loved one. This kind of behavior tends to come back to you. Earl Hickey calls it karma.
  • Fine Reputation – We will explore Carnegie’s advice to give the other person a fine reputation to live up to later in this series. For now know this; conveying belief in another person can help them achieve more than they thought possible and make them feel more important than ever before. Give that gift.

We make requests of people every single day because we need other people. Recognizing that fact, this blog is intended to help you learn to hear “Yes!” The more friends you make, the easier it is to influence people and hear “Yes!” But it’s not just about getting what you want. It’s about building relationships and enjoying our lives more because of those relationships. Make another person feel important today and that’s one step in the right direction them and for you.

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

Talk in Terms of the Other Person’s Interests

Last week we took a look at Dale Carnegie’s advice on how to be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves. I shared a half dozen simple questions you can use to get the conversation started. They were non-threatening, generic ice-breaker questions. This week we’ll look at some advice that goes hand in hand with what was shared last week – talking in terms of the other person’s interests.

So you broke the ice and you’ve been paying attention to what others are saying. You might get lucky and find they share some of the same passions you do. Life is looking pretty good when that happens because when you find you have something in common it’s easy to form relationships. That’s because the principle of liking tells us we have a tendency to automatically like people who share common interests with us.

For example, I’m passionate about fitness, martial arts and sales. If I come across someone who has a keen interest in one of those areas it’s easy to talk for hours! But, what if you or I run into people who don’t share our same passions?

Let’s say you meet someone and quickly find out they’re into extreme sports. Feeling you have nothing in common, what can you do? Actually it’s pretty simple; allow them to talk about extreme sports. Just ask questions, show genuine interest and look at it as a learning experience. You could start by saying, “Wow, I’ve never had the desire to go bungee jumping. What made you decide to try that?” There’s probably a great story behind that first jump, full of excitement and emotion. As the person relives the events that lead to the first jump, and the jump itself, they’ll probably feel many of the same exhilarating feelings they experienced before. That’s good news for you for a couple of reasons.

First, they’ll start to associate those feelings with you. Everyone likes to feel good, right? Of course they do and when people feel good around you they tend to like you and want to be around you more. That’s a great way to start a relationship.

Second, being tied in some way to those feelings will make you more memorable. That’s also great for you because the individual is likely to remember you and your name. Have you ever seen someone you met before but you didn’t approach them again because you were embarrassed that you couldn’t recall their name? Being memorable makes it less likely someone will avoid you because they can’t recall your name.

Talking in terms of the other person’s interests isn’t that hard. It just takes the willingness and patience to be a good listener and the smarts to ask a few good questions. The willingness and patience are the hardest things for most people for a few reasons.

  • We want to be known. If someone goes on and on we begin to wonder if we’ll get our turn. If you find you’re with someone who never gives you that chance, odds are they aren’t the kind of person you’ll seek out for relationship. If it’s a business relationship then don’t lose sight of the goal – improving business.
  • We’re not very good listeners. Most people don’t listen with the desire to understand; rather they listen to respond so they can get their two cents in. Put on top of that all the distractions we have in modern life and it takes more effort than ever to really be a good listener.

If you can be a good listener and talk in terms of the other person’s interests it can end up being fun because you get to know more about another person and you might learn about something new. I encourage you this week to become other-focused and engage people on their terms based on their interests. Do so and you’ll win more friends and influence more people. Brian
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

Be a Good Listener and Encourage Others to Talk about Themselves

What subject do you know more about than anyone else in the entire world? Yourself, of course. No one else knows everything you’ve been through, what you think or how you feel at any given moment. They don’t know all your likes and dislikes. They don’t know about your past, your present or your future hopes and dreams. Nor do they know about all the experiences you’ve had, the things you’ve overcome during your lifetime. Those are some of the things that uniquely make you you and those same things – and more – make everyone you meet unique and interesting too.

So, if you ever find yourself unsure about what to say when you meet someone new, simply focus on them. In Dale Carnegie’s words, “be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves.” When they share things they love or enjoy they’ll feel good as they talk and they’ll associate those good feelings with you. That’s a winning formula for making friends and influencing people.

You might be reading this and be thinking to yourself, “But I’m not good with small talk.” No worries because I have several questions to help get you started. These questions will be easy for anyone to answer, should not be sensitive and will help the conversation flow naturally. The key after asking questions is to pay attention for things you have in common, or areas of interest, so you can make a connection with the person. The more they see themselves in you the more they will like you.

So, in no particular order here are several questions you can use as conversation starters to encourage others to talk about themselves.

Where do you live? Even if someone lives in the same city as you there are suburbs and neighborhoods that differentiate parts of town. Asking about this can help you connect because you might currently live in the same area or have friends or family that do.

Tell me about your family? Notice I didn’t ask, “Are you married?” or “Do you have any kids?” Both of those questions can be sensitive for people who want to be married or would like to have kids but don’t currently. Asking about family opens them up to talk about parents, siblings or other relatives. If they are married or have kids it’s likely they’ll talk about that.

Where are you originally from? This can be really interesting. For example, I was born in Hawaii. I didn’t live there very long but when it comes up it always sparks interest. Because I went back on my honeymoon then again 20 years later I can talk somewhat about the islands and people find that interesting because most have not been there.

Do you like to travel? This is a natural follow up to “Where are you originally from?” Someone may not have been born in a place you find interesting but that doesn’t stop them from visiting interesting places. When they relate having been to Europe, Australia, China or some other location they will probably recall a good time…and begin associating the good feelings with you.

What do you do for a living? It’s unfortunate that polls tell us most people don’t enjoy their jobs but still, when you spend 40 hours or more at work it is significant enough to warrant conversation. Quite often what seems to be mundane to them might be very interesting to you. And, when you don’t happen to know a lot about their line of work and ask questions they get to feel like an expert.

What sports or hobbies do you enjoy? This one is a big one for most people, especially in America. Many fans are literally fanatical about their teams. My wife Jane is a great example. She’s a Steelers fan through and through. Every Sunday she makes her favorite dip for her chips and has a Diet Coke. If it happens that the Steelers are not on a local station then we’re off to a sports bar so she can watch them play. And yes, she wears the jersey or other team related items to let the world know she’s a Steelers fan. You can’t go wrong by asking her about the team and so it is with other people.

Some people don’t like to watch, they want to participate so it’s good to ask about hobbies. When people hang glide, sky dive, water ski, golf or do any number of other activities it’s because they’re passionate about it. Ask them and they relive a little passion and that’s good for you.

So there you have it, another solid tip to help you make friends and influence people. Like any advice, it will only have a positive effect if you actually do it. I challenge you this week to ask a lot of questions then sit back and “be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves.” Do this and you’ll see a positive response coming your way.

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

Remember Their Name – The “How To”

This week is a guest post from Bob Fenner. I met Bob several years ago when he was a student at Ohio University. He hosted the table where I was sitting with coworkers while attending the annual Sales Symposium put on by students from the Sales Centre.

Upon graduating Bob relocated to Silicon Valley to pursue a career in IT Sales with two suitcases and a positive attitude. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he moved to California without any friends or family in the area and has been able to meet some incredible people along the way. He started his career in Inside Sales at Data Domain, now an EMC company, in the computer hardware industry.

He currently works for Merced Systems in Redwood City, California. Merced is the leading provider of Sales & Service Performance Management solutions. Bob started with Merced Systems this past August and is currently focused on building the Inside Sales team while maintaining responsibility for supporting regional sales teams in the Western US. Both are daunting tasks considering Merced Systems was recently named to the “Top 100 Fastest Growing Software Companies” by Inc. Magazine and to the ”500 Fastest Growing Technology Companies” in the US by Deloitte.

One of Bob’s favorite parts of living in California is exploring the surrounding areas including San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Wine Country, and the coast. He also told me he likes the fact that the weather is a little better than Ohio. Bob recently started as an Assistant Wrestling Coach at a local high school in California.

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”

Remember Their Name – The “How To”

In Brian’s previous post, A Rose by Any Other Name, he writes that “names in fact do matter” and I am convinced that remembering names is a critical piece to building a successful network. I believe it is even more important to remember a person’s name the second time you run into them.

After reading Brian’s post, I began to think of how often I hear people say, “I am terrible at remembering names!” Here are a few tips I use to remember names during a first encounter in a professional setting:

  • Always repeat a person’s name when you first meet them to make sure you have it correct
  • Use their name throughout the conversation
  • Exchange business cards after a meaningful conversation

Take notes on the back of their business card on a few key points from your conversation (i.e., Steelers fan, wife and 1 daughter, handles sales training at State Auto)

Here are a few tips I use to remember names after I meet potential business connections:

  • Send them a follow up email – let me guess, you don’t know their email and are kicking yourself for not getting their business card. In my experience, 90% of people I connect with have emails with one of following aliases –,, or
  • Keep the email short and to the point. I like to mention it was great to meet them; I enjoyed hearing about a certain aspect in our conversation, and ask them to commit to a next step
  • Send it as soon as you have email access – do not wait to send your follow up email days or weeks later

My mother used to force me to write “Thank You” notes to every family member I ever received a gift from and I used to hate it. Now I want to say “Thank You” to her for forcing such a good habit that has paid off for me so far in my business career.

Follow up emails are a key to remembering a contact’s name and showing them you sincerely enjoyed meeting them. As Keith Ferrazzi, in his book Never Eat Alone, in the chapter “Follow Up or Fail,” writes, “The fact is, most people don’t follow up very well, if at all. Good follow-up alone elevates you above 95% of your peers. The follow-up is the hammer and nails of your networking tool kit.”

  • Add the person on LinkedIn after meeting them with a personal message. If I can’t instantly match a category we have in common for connecting, I select “Friend” or “Other” and enter the work email address

Here are tips for when you see the person again:

  • I always introduce my full name when I see someone for the second time to cover for people who haven’t done their homework
  • If all of my tips have still not led me to remember the name, I will inconspicuously ask other people in the room what their name is before we greet again
  • I greet them with a big smile, firm handshake, and say “Hi Brian, Bob Fenner, it is great to see you again! How is your family doing?”

I hope these tips serve you well and help you become better at remembering names. Don’t forget, “The sweetest sound to anyone is the sound of their own name.”

Bob Fenner

A Rose by Any Other Name

Probably one of the most famous lines ever penned was from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The saying conveys this – what really matters is what something is, not what we call it. It’s true that a rose would smell no different had we called it anything else.

But, names do matter, even if they don’t change the thing being described, because they change us and how we think and respond. Here’s a nice example; Chilean Sea Bass, a popular dish, wasn’t such a hot seller when it was referred to by its real name, the Patagonian Toothfish. That name’s not too appealing and fish eaters didn’t think so either. Ah, but sales took a turn for the better when it was renamed because Chilean Sea Bass sounds interesting and exotic.
Let’s focus on Dale Carnegie now because he said, “The sweetest sound to anyone is the sound of their own name.” We’ve all met people who wish they’d have been given a different name. Johnny Cash made that notion famous when he sang about A Boy Named Sue. However, despite complaining, most people who wish they had a different name will never change their name.
Making it a point to use someone’s name can help you win friends and influence people for lots of reasons.
Most people get a sense of importance when their name is used. This makes me think about my college days when I worked as a valet a Muirfield Village Golf Club, the place where Jack Nicklaus hosts The Memorial Tournament each year. One summer a car pulled up and as I opened the door one of Jack’s very close friends, a founding member of the golf course, got out of the car and what he did next I’ll never forget – he simply said, “Thanks, Brian.”
As I type this I still remember how this important man, Jack Nicklaus’ friend, using my name made me gasp a little. I couldn’t believe he knew who I was. Then I noticed my name badge, the one worn by all valets. But that didn’t change the reality of how I felt and that I still remember it 25 years later!
If you want to make someone feel important, maybe even make their day, try using their name. Give it a shot next time you’re checking out at the grocery store or use your server’s name when you eat out next time. I bet you’ll also get better service in both instances.
Using another person’s name also creates sense of relationship. Once when I was traveling I stopped in a TGI Friday’s for dinner. The server behind the bar came over, said, “Hi, I’m Ron. What’s your name?” Then he stuck out his hand to shake mine. As we shook I told him my name and he replied, “Brian, I’ll be your server tonight. If you need anything just let me know.”
Each time Ron came by to check on me it was, “How is everything, Brian?” or, “Can I get you another beer Brian?” Whenever he addressed me it was by name. So there I was in a different city, sitting in a restaurant where I didn’t know anyone but I felt like Ron and I were friends. I have to believe he enjoyed his job a little more because he felt like he was waiting on friends. And I’m sure he got much better tips too because he engaged Liking.
One more reason to use people’s name is simply this; it gets their attention. Imagine you’re at a crowded event where there’s lots of background noise and talk going on. You’re not paying any particular attention until you hear your name. It’s amazing how good your listening becomes at that point as you try to figure out if it’s you someone is talking about.
This applies to email too. Several years ago I sent an email to about 300 people who’d been through some training I’d conducted. In the email I asked for some success stories but got none! I didn’t hang my head and think the training was ineffective because I knew it was good stuff. I concluded the culprit was a psychological phenomenon known as “diffusion of responsibility.” Because my email wasn’t addressed to anyone in particular, everyone thought someone else would respond and ultimately no one did.
So after about a week of no replies I changed my method. The next communication was a “personalized” email. Using the Microsoft mail merge feature I simply included people’s first names from my training database. Rather than print letters I merged into an email so 300 separate emails went out in the span of about two minutes. Each person’s name was at the top and I asked a question about the training. The result – within a week I had 125 replies and got dozens of great success stories! Taking away the impersonal nature and including a question was all it took.
So to quote Dale Carnegie, “Remember their name,” because this engages Liking and builds relationships.
Have you found it to be the case that you feel and act differently when people use your name? Have you seen people respond differently to you when you use their name? If you answered “yes” to yourself on either of those leave a comment below so we can learn more.

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”


Smile! It’s Like Milk, It Does Your Body Good

So we’re on the topic of liking, doing things differently so more people will like you and in the process you will come to like them. Last week we explored the idea of becoming genuinely interested in people and this week we move to a one word piece of advice – smile. That’s right, smile.

Sounds easy enough but it’s not for everyone, especially me. When my father-in-law first met me his comment to Jane was, “Your friend seems so serious.” To put it in perspective, I did meet him at a wedding so I was wearing a suit and wanted to make sure put my best foot forward. And, I had a hunch very early after meeting Jane that I wanted to marry her so I was nervous.
For people who don’t know me I may come across as serious, a little aloof and intense at times. Some people might even say “stern.” However, once people get to know me they probably wonder if I’m ever serious. Just ask my father-in-law now!
Enough about me, let’s get on with smiling. What happens when you make eye contact with someone and smile? Most of the time they reciprocate, respond in kind and smile back. It’s like a yawn, a little contagious but you don’t get sleepy. Mother Teresa said, “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”
Another effect of smiling, unless it’s insincere, is that you feel good. Quite often our mood follows our actions. For example, if you’re feeling down in the dumps, the worst thing you can do is sink further into the couch or a chair. The best thing is to get up and move.
A story to show changing your body can change your attitude came from a good friend, Anthony Tormey, founder of the Leader Development Institute. Anthony said he used to skip around base when he was in the Air Force. Yes, he would skip around base because he said it was hard to be anything but happy if you were skipping.

The same logic applies to smiling. Make the choice to smile and quite often the feelings follow. It’s like milk; it does a body good! In fact, here are some additional benefits to

  • You are more attractive and look younger. Perhaps with a really nice smile you won’t have to spend so much on accessories to look good or spend quite as much time at the gym.
  • You appear more confident. Power ties are okay for work but a confident smile will work 24×7.
  • It lowers your blood pressure and helps you relax. We have enough stress in our lives and we’re always looking for ways to lower it so here’s a great one.
  • It helps you maintain a positive attitude. Everyone likes to be around upbeat people and this is one more way to become that kind of person.

Who would you rather be around, the attractive, youthful, confident, relaxed person who is always upbeat? Or, the tired looking person lacking confidence, who is always under stress and sees the negative in most things? It’s a no brainer, of course, so make the right choice!One thing you can do to help is to keep a mirror near your phone at work. This is a common technique for people who make a living on the phone. Why do this? It’s easy to not think about how you appear when you’re on the phone and even though people can’t see you, your attitude comes through in your tone of voice. A glance in the mirror might be all it takes to make the choice to show your pearly whites.I’ll close with some quotes that will hopefully bring a smile to your face.

  • “It is impossible to persuade a man who does not disagree, but smiles.” — Muriel Spark
  • “People seldom notice old clothes if you wear a big smile.” — Lee Mildon
  • “All people smile in the same language.” — Anonymous
  • “If you’re happy and you know it then your face will surely show it.” — Children’s song

Have a great day and share it with someone by giving them your smile. If you have a smiling story to share, feel free to leave a comment…it will make me smile.Brian
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

Quit Trying to be Interesting and Get Interested

Dale Carnegie noticed six easy things any of us can do to get people to like us. Before we dive in, let me start by saying, it’s not so much about us getting others to like us as much as it’s about us coming to like them. For example, if I interact with you, I can do things to try to make you like me and you’ll probably see right through it. You’ll feel as though I’m using a cheesy sales technique. Or I can go into a situation with the mindset that I want to make friends and enjoy the people I interact with. Now I might do the very same things but people see the sincerity of someone who really wants to like them and that makes all the difference.

So the first thing we’ll look at is the advice to become genuinely interested in other people. In other words, quit trying to be interesting and get interested.

A few weeks ago I mentioned everyone’s favorite radio station WIIFM, call letters for “What’s In It For Me.” This is the preoccupation of most people’s thoughts. Reality check – people are more concerned about themselves than they are about you. If you want to come to know them, like them and perhaps have them like you then don’t fight it. Carnegie said we could make more friends in two months than we could in two years by becoming interested in others rather than trying to be interesting.

Sounds easy enough but what’s that look like, being interested in others? First thing I’d say would be give them your full attention. If you’re meeting with them in person that means maintaining eye contact and displaying body language that indicates you’re open to them and what they’re sharing. Don’t sit back, arms folded, legs crossed with a blank expression. All it takes is a smile, head nod to indicate agreement and perhaps a slight lean forward. I bet you can do each of those things.

If you happen to be on the phone stop everything you’re doing…including looking at your computer. Ask yourself, “If the person was sitting in front of me would I be doing what I’m doing right now?” If the answer is no then stop whatever you’re doing so you can pay full attention. Take notes if for no other reason than to focus on the other person and what they’re saying.

How about this; don’t listen to respond, instead, listen to understand. That means you’re not jumping in each time they take a breath so you can share your thoughts
or your stories. The more natural thing would be to ask questions to learn more about them or what they happen to be talking about.

Here’s an idea — you can take the initiative and talk about something you know is important to the other person. Perhaps you’ve heard they are into gardening. If you’re like me that may be something you have no interest in but you can still ask them about it because it’s important to them. How do people feel when they talk about something or someone they love? How do they feel when they talk about causes they’re passionate about? What about fond memories? You’re probably thinking, “Of course they feel good when they recall such things and talk about them.” Bingo!

When people talk about what they love or what they’re passionate about they feel energized and good. Eventually they come to associate those positive feelings with you. Think back to a time when someone said or did something that hurt you. If they did it repeatedly you probably tried to avoid that person. On the flip side, when you had good, positive interactions with people you began to associate good feelings with them and wanted to be around them. It’s the same deal here, only this time you’re making a more strategic decision to engage the other person on their terms in hopes of engaging the liking principle.

This strategic decision is an important one. When I interview people I typically ask for a strength of theirs and most often I hear something like, “I have great relationships with my agents and CSRs.” So people are aware relationships are important but they usually fall flat when I follow up with this question, “Suppose you get this job and you’re going to visit your assigned agents for the first time. What will you do to connect with them as quickly as possible so you can build a strong working relationship quickly?” This is where people stutter and hesitate. It’s easy for them to sense when someone likes them but they’re not always sure why that’s occurred.

Understanding a simple concept like becoming genuinely interested in others and making it a focus of your interaction will help you become a more likable person. Never underestimate the power of liking. Jeffrey Gitomer put it best when he said, “All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends. All things not being so equal, people still want to do business with their friends.” Being a good friend will get you the benefit of the doubt every time, whether professionally or personally.

If you’ve had success making friends with a strategy like this, or some other way, leave a comment below to let me know about it.

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”