First Dale Carnegie Class

Last night I went to the Dale Carnegie kick-off class.  I can tell already that it’s going to be a good program for me.  One of the nice things about the Dale Carnegie courses is that they stress the practicing part of learning something new.
 
I remember that sometime around grade 8 or 9, school starts to not require as much practicing.  In grade 2 and 3 we’d be given workbooks full of 50 to 100 additions to go through at a time.  Every night there was a list of words to practice spelling or multiplication tables to go over again.  Over the years though there is less and less time for practicing those things.  Many problems become too specific.  In high school we’d have homework to do in chemistry, but the time it takes to do the problem means that it’s hard to do 50 to 100 of the same type of problems every night.  Instead you get 5 questions, each one requires you to step back and start the problem solving from the beginning.  Enter university and practice goes out the window. In university it is expected that once given the knowledge, you should be able to demonstrate the skill, there’s never any practice required, you have to recognize the need and find a way to fit practice into an already full schedule.
 
I’m glad that practice is a big part of the Dale Carnegie course.
 
 
Lesson 1
 
Last night I got a few new bits of information, we started the course with a technique for introducing your self, and making your name stand out when you say it.  The key is to take a pause before stating your name, and then take a breath between your first and last name and make sure you increase the volume slightly on your last name.  It often happens that you pick up the phone, and the conversation goes like this:
 
Me: “Hello”
Them: “Hi this is Robert Allen how are you doing today?”
Me: “Good thanks, yourself?”
Them: “Excellent …… “
 
The problem is that very often the first sentence they say sounds rushed, and your focused on answering the question rather than recognizing the name. What you hear is something more like:
 
Me: “Hello”
Them: “Hi this is blah blah how are you doing today?”
Me: “Good thanks, yourself?”
Them: “Excellent …… “
 
I never even registered their name, it was in one ear and out the other. If you don’t rewind the conversation at that point, it becomes embarrassing to have to ask their name mid way through the conversation.  Be sure to get the other persons name upfront and use it immediately in your first response.
 

Me: “Hello”
Them: “Hi this is blah blah how are you doing today?”
Me: “Sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”
Them: “Robert Allen “
Me: “I’m doing good, Robert, how about yourself”

 
Lesson 2
 
The second thing that we learned was about breaking the ice when meeting someone, and you’re in that awkward position of nobody knows what to say.  To remember some good conversation topics we were given a mental trick to help when you’re drawing a blank at those times.
 
Think of a a nameplate, made of a giant 6 foot slab of shiny brass, and melting into the center of that brass nameplate is a doll house.  you look in the window and see a family sitting down and having dinner.  Out of the chimney is a work glove that is grabbing onto the tail of a giant 747 jumbo jet. one of the windows of the plane has a tennis racket punched through it, and in the mesh of that racket is a bright blinking light bulb.
 
When you’re meeting someone new, you can go through that mental image, and think of things to ask the other person.  Their name, where they live, family, work, travel, sports/leisure, and their thoughts on something.
 
We practiced going through this with a 5 minute conversation with someone else in the class.  I found it to be quite a useful tool to get through those awkward “what else is there to talk about” pauses in conversations.