Dale Carnegie Course: Week 4

This is part of a series on the Dale Carnegie Public Speaking Course.

Week 4 had two main topics: reducing worry, and enhancing relationships. As with all of the advice in the course, it was a mixture of some simple advice that doesn’t seem all that remarkable, and practical help on how to actually use the advice. It is this practical help that really separates this course from all the Fix Your Life In 7 Hours While Losing Weight! books you could read.

Stress is a tricky one, and it affects lots of people, often in different ways. The response from the course is to offer a lot of different techniques that can help, and encouraging you to try them to see what works for you. In fact, that is pretty much what the whole course is about: trying things you might never have tried otherwise. Once you find something that works, the payoff outweighs all the attempts that didn’t work.

So, we learn about how to better deal with stressful situations, most of which centre around having self-confidence. If you are generally confident, little things don’t bother you, and if you’re generally positive, the occasional setback doesn’t break your stride. The trick is to become confident and generally happy, and that can be quite difficult. Everything else about the course helps to build self-confidence, and the ideas in this module use that increased self-confidence to help you to be more positive about life and confident that you can handle stressful situations. You’ll probably still experience stress, but you’ll be able to manage it and get on with life.

The two ideas that help me most are: don’t worry about something more than you need to, and to act happy. It’s amazing how simply forcing yourself to smile lifts your mood. It’s not a panacea, but it’s an effective coping mechanism.

The second part of this week was about enhancing relationships with other people. In a nutshell: be nicer and people will like you more. Well, duh, right? Okay. How many people did you smile at yesterday? Do you listen to people? Really listen, rather than just use the time to think of what you’re going to say next? Don’t worry, most people don’t, either. How about the 3 C’s: Don’t Criticise, Condemn or Complain. Are you, to use an Aussie term, a whinger?

These ideas are so obvious it’s laughable. And yet, I don’t do it. Why not? Why is it so much easier to criticise other people, even though we ourselves are far from perfect? Why are we so self-absorbed that we complain that other people don’t like us as much as we’d like them to, and yet we are totally uninterested in them?

It is a brave person who can walk into the room of mirrors and take a good, hard look at themselves. It is quite confronting to realise, and accept, that you are the problem and there is much that is lacking about the way your treat other people. You don’t have to be a saint, but let’s face it, there are a lot of people who are much nicer than you are.

You can probably think of someone right now. Someone who’s always happy, eager to share a joke, who doesn’t complain about how their life sucks, even though they might have been through some tough times. The person who everyone wants to help if they get into trouble. The person everyone chips in for to buy them a farewell gift at work. You can be that person, but you might just have to get over yourself a bit first.

Here are a couple of things you can do to brighten the day of those around you, and then they’ll like you more:

  • Smile
  • Don’t criticise, condemn or complain
  • Listen


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