Thursday, April 30, 2009
Step Seven to self improvement based on Ed Foreman's Twelve Habits of Successful People - Ask questions and listen!
An important aspect of anyone's life is the ability to communicate. Perhaps the most important aspect of communication is listening. Most people think listening means waiting until it's your turn to talk again. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It is through listening that we learn. Becoming an effective communicator depends on your listening. It is through listening that you learn the other party's likes and dislikes, his strong points and his weak points. It is through listening that you are able to arm yourself with sufficient data to direct the conversation in the direction you choose.
In the early twentieth century, there was a world traveler named Lowell Thomas. He loved to travel and he would finance his travels by delivering lectures about his trips. His custom was to arrive at the hall thirty to sixty minutes before the appointed time and to mingle with the crowd. He would talk to the people and draw them out with questions such as "Have you traveled anywhere lately?" and "How did you enjoy it there?"
The end result is that during the pre-lecture period, Mr. Thomas learned a lot about his audience which he is able to mix into his lecture and in fact he said very little about himself. When asked about the lecture, the attendees would more often than not respond that they had spent time with Mr. Thomas before the lecture and he was such a great communicator!
Talk with people and listen to them talk. Invoke the help of Rudyard Kipling's six honest serving men, who, what, where, when, how, and why. Getting these answers and this information will make you better informed and will make the other party to the conversation feel important because you are discussing his favorite subject, him.
Ask questions and listen!
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Step SIx, half way through the twelve habits of successful people. Call people by name
The sweetest sound a person ever hears is his own name. It is amazing how a person's name can drill through all sorts of layers inattention. It has been said that if there was an announcement in an airport waiting area in which a person was accurately described, both his physical description and an accurate description of his clothing and his current activities, less than 50% of the people hearing the announcement would recognize it as themselves or even admit to having heard the announcement. If however, the same announcement is made and is directed to a person by name, in over 90% of the cases, the person will hear the announcement and respond.
I was in Chicago one morning walking to the car rental agency from the arrival gate and an announcement came over the loudspeaker asking me to return to the gate. Up until that time, the announcements had been mere background noise but I heard them call me.
When you call a person by name, you make them feel important and you make them want to help you more. One of the most common complaints you hear from people is "I just can't remember names" Why would you say that? What are you doing? You are reinforcing a negative idea. Instead, tell yourself you are good at remembering people's names. and develop a system for remembering names.
hen you first meet a person, listen to their name. Take a minute and ask them a question about their name. "Soprano, is that Italian? What part of Italy are your people from?" "Marjohan, that is an interesting name. What is the derivation of that name?' This will imprint the name in your mind. During the next few minutes take the opportunity to use the person's name a time of two. Look at the person and if they have a prominent physical characteristic, link it to their name. You might want to make their name into a picture to make it easier to remember. I once met a man named "Decklan" I created a picture in my mind of Deck Land, a sales area where they sold backyard decks and the property was covered with decks. Decklan had long wavy hair parted in the middle so I pictured several of the decks with this long hair growing on the decks. I met Decklan at a meeting over 15 years ago and providing he hasn't gone bald, I would recognize him and remember his name. When you pick out a characteristic, pick one that is not likely to change. Hair is usually a bad choice because it can easily change color and length. Ears, noses, eyes, pointed chins, cleft chins etc make good markers.
There are booklets written which contain pictograms for names to establish for yourself a standard of name pictures like turkey for Tom, a toilet for John, sleeve for Steve, a wedding party for Mary, denim trousers for Jean or Gene. Last names can be combined pictograms a sun shining brightly out of a toilet for Johnson, a sun covered in hair for Harrison.
Remember, you are using these as mere clues to stimulate your memory. The important thing is to remember people's names and call them by their name. In the movie "A League of Their Own", Tom Hanks just could not remember the players names so he gave each of them a nick name based on a physical characteristic line "blondie". If he had knowledge of this device, he could have linked their name to the nickname and remembered their name.
Which do you think will get the best results. "Hey Blondie, I need that file from the closing this morning" or "Miss Jones, Could you get the that file". Everybody has a name. It is a prized possession. Use their names and show them that you value their name as much as they do.
Call people by name
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Step Five, the fifth habit of successful people, Smile Often!
When I was younger, there was a bumper sticker that proclaimed "SMILE! It makes people wonder what you're up to!" There is a much better reason to smile and to smile often. the underlying theme throughout the twelve habits of successful people is conversation with yourself. A lot of the habits are different ways of stating that you have to be positive in your outlook, your thoughts, and your actions. Smiling is merely a manifestation of this positiveness.
It really doesn't matter what people think when they see you smile. What is important is that when you s=mile, you see you smile and you react positively. It is hard to be mad when you are sincerely smiling. It is hard to worry when you are smiling. By smiling often you are sending yourself positive subliminal messages. The fact that smiling is contagious and that other people will often smile in response to your smile is an added benefit.
I worked on a phone-a-thon for my college alumni association one time and we were each given an information sheet with answers to the frequently asked questions that had arisen in the past. The last instruction was "SMILE". Two of the telephoners did an informal experiment for ten calls, caller A made a conscious effort to smile during every telephone call while Caller B made no such attempt and kept a neutral expression. Then the callers switched roles. The end result was that the smiling caller was able to get nearly 50% more donations than the non-smiling caller. Your smile even comes across the telephone wires.
When you smile, you entire being smiles and it uplifted.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Day Four in the Twelve Step program to a better life. Give before you get.
Always show people the benefit to them before you ask them to do something for you. If people perceive an activity as being beneficial to them they will leap at the opportunity to help you with your project This is especially helpful when dealing with children. Compare two simple statements by a parent. Statement One: "Clean up your room" Statement Two: "If you were to clean your room, I wouldn't have to do it and I would have time to take you to the playground". Which of these two statements do you think would be more likely to get the child to clean his room?
Oftentimes we observe a co-worker or subordinate doing a task in a manner which we recognize as not being the most effective way to get the job done. Compare these two approaches. Approach One: "You are doing that all wrong. The was I do that task is like this" Approach Two: "I'm sure that if there were a way you could get that task done quicker which would leave you more time to do whatever it is you would rather be doing, I am sure you would want to know what that method was wouldn't you?'
Approach Two is a double edged sword. First it shows the person that there is a benefit to him to do it in a different manner as you suggest. Additionally, the method of asking seeks agreement in a positive method. Rather than ask "do you want to know a different way to do it?" which invites a yes or a no, you set forth a positive statement "you would like to know the better method" and then ask for agreement "wouldn't you". This touches on neurolinguistic programming as espoused by Tony Robbins where you get the other party to identify with you and then seek their agreement and consent.
If you let the other person believe they have come up with the idea which promotes more productivity, they are more likely ti implement that method. Zig Ziglar often quotes Harry Truman in saying there is no limit to what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets credit for it.
Give before you get!
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Step Three - Think good thoughts! Ed Foreman's third habit of winners is "think Good Thoughts, about others and about yourself"
It seems that self help and self improvement is a circular concept. We keep coming back to the same points. Kahlil Gibron said "Nothing is but that thinking makes it so." This is a powerful concept. It parallels Henry Ford's observation that whether you think you or think you can't, you're probably right.
Maxwell Maltz in "Psycho-cybernetics" tells us that our mind cannot differentiate between something that really happens and something that is vividly imagined. Take this concept a bit father and see what the result of your thoughts about yourself is. If you think good things about yourself, your subconscious mind will accept them as true and the good things will happen to you. Harboring negative thoughts about yourself is what Zig Ziglar calls "stinkin thinkin". It does absolutely no good. When you harbor negative thoughts, no one is exposed to them except you and their venom remains within your body and your psyche to ferment and rot. Rid yourself of negative thoughts and fill your mind and your heart with positive affirmations.
Similarly, you should think positive thought and good things about other people, you are going to be disappointed some of the time but what is better for you, to have good expectations and be wrong some of the time or to have bad expectations and be right most of the time. If you think good thoughts about others and express them, they will get back to the object of your thoughts and they will begin thinking positive thoughts and having positive results.
A silly result of thinking good thoughts is the parking lot paradigm expressed by Wayne Dyer. He asks how many people do you know who, upon entering a crowded shopping center parking lot exclaim that the lot is crowded and there is no place to park. They then proceed to drive around the parking lot looking for no place to park and they usually find it. He says his wife knows that there is a parking space for her in the lot and that some nice person is saving it for her. Upon entering the lot, she announces "I am here. Whoever is saving my parking space can go ahead and leave now. " She then drives to a location near the door she wants to enter and sure enough, a large majority of the time, someone pulls out of a super convenient parking space. I have tried this, much to the consternation of my wife and children, it works a whole lot more times than not.
Like W. Clement Stone says, "If there is nothing to lose and everything to gain, by all means try!"
Think good thoughts!
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