Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Just Be Nice

 I am very fond of strawberries and cream, but I have found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms. So when I went fishing, I didn't think about what I wanted. I thought about what they wanted.
-Dale Carnegie

At the suggestion of a friend, I recently read How to Win Friends and Influence People. Dale Carnegie wrote the book in 1936, but his message is timeless. He talks about listening more and speaking less, finding out what is important to the other person, seeing things from someone else’s perspective, giving the benefit of the doubt. It is about being nice. It is about being sincere.

My friend recommended the book while I was studying the topic of childlike sincerity. I had heard of it before from my husband, who suggested the book several times, usually during an argument. I didn’t listen. It took a third party to get me interested in the subject.

What I liked about Dale Carnegie’s message is that is applies to business, but it is just as relevant to your marriage or your parenting style. When first looking at the quality of sincerity last month, it became obvious that sarcasm, the opposite of sincerity, was far easier to spot in our house. Kenny has a quick tongue. I tend to give “looks”. Sarcasm makes it virtually impossible to recognize when someone really is being sincere because you are always on the defensive. Even when you are being nice, you are not, because the other person doesn’t believe you. It is a vicious circle.

We made a commitment to lose the sarcasm and the strangest thing happened. Our relationship improved. A peaceful calm settled over our house.  Dale Carnegie’s philosophy is that you can change other people’s behavior by changing your behavior toward them. It is so simple really. I found if you can really eliminate sarcasm, it makes listening easier. It makes empathy easier. It makes cutting slack easier.  I also found that if I smiled more, I felt happier because the people around me were happier. They say you should reread the book because we tend to forget.So Kenny and I have agreed to rotate reading it every other year and remind each other of these simple lessons.

How do you practice sincerity?

For today’s “sky’s the limit” on what you can learn: I was curious how much of an influence Dale Carnegie still has almost sixty years after his death. He has more than 161,000 Facebook “Likes” and 50,000 Twitter followers. How to Win Friends and Influence People has sold more than 15 million copies and his training classes are still being taught in eighty countries.

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