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Perception vs. Reality

October 1, 2010

Do you know how others perceive you? This is one of the most important questions you should ask yourself.  If you aren’t making substantial and authentic connections, you probably aren’t not having much success in life.  The reason being is that trust is built upon relationships.

Recently I was given a compliment. I was told that I have the “ability to have a conversation with almost anyone”.  It’s amazing that is a compliment, and not something that we accept as “the norm”.  I learn the most from from interacting with those who are the most different from me.  This ability however has not come easily.  Let me share with you an experience I had early in my career.

Prior to working as a freelancer and owning my own business here in Minneapolis,  I resided in Chicago.  I was working for a real estate property management company in the city and had recently been promoted to their Marketing Director.  I was young, only 27 at the time so many of my co-workers and staff were older than me.  One of my responsibilities was to speak at the monthly broker meetings.  Standing up and explaining what our marketing department had recently achieved and what additional services we were going to provide were key points I needed to relay to the over 150 in attendance.  The first meeting I spoke at I remember my heart racing, hands shaking and I guarantee you I did not earn the trust of my audience.

Soon after the meeting….literally minutes after the meeting, the president of the company approached me and mentioned that I would benefit from attending a Dale Carnegie course on public speaking. Luckily I am not sensitive to criticism and knew fully my weakness. Six weeks later I completed the weekly class and learned far more than the art of public speaking.  I learned that communicating effectively is one of the biggest accomplishments we can hope to achieve.  Connecting with people, being authentic and effectively communicating your message is the core to earning trust and building lasting relationships.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

This is Dale Carnegie’s summary of his book, from 1936

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

  • Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
  • Give honest and sincere appreciation.
  • Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Six ways to make people like you

  • Become gunuinely interested in other people.
  • Smile.
  • Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  • 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 – and do it sincerely.

Win people to your way of thinking

  • The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
  • Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”
  • If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
  • Begin in a friendly way.
  • Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.
  • Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
  • Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
  • Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
  • Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
  • Appeal to the nobler motives.
  • Dramatize your ideas.
  • Throw down a challenge.

Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

  • A leader’s job often includes changing your people’s attitudes and behavior. Some suggestions to accomplish this.
  • Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
  • Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
  • Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
  • Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
  • Let the other person save face.
  • Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”
  • Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
  • Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
  • Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

If you take the time to make a connection, I guarantee you can find common ground with almost anyone!

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