Recently I was in Austin, Texas for The 2012 Global Coworking Unconference Conference (http://www.austingcuc.com/) and the Southwest Music Conference and Festival (http://sxsw.com/), and I was reminded of one of the most powerful lessons of life I learned from How to Win Friends & Influence People (amazon affiliate link). It’s by Dale Carnegie and it is a book that I read at the beginning of every year, and I’ve done so for the past 20 years or so. It goes like this:
The sun can make you take off your coat more quickly than the wind; and kindliness, the friendly approach and appreciation can make people change their minds more readily than all the bluster and storming in the world.
While I was in Austin, I had several opportunities to reinforce this powerful advice – here’s one example. I arrived in town at about midnight after a long day of travel (Austin is not easy or convenient to get to from Richmond, Virginia – side lesson learned there), and got to my hotel, a Hampton Inn near the airport, at about 1:00am. They had no record of my reservation and were ‘sold out.’ Not a good start to my trip. I had two ways to handle the situation: 1) Get very upset, stomp my feet, and demand to speak to the manager to fix it (eg. be a jerk) or 2) Stay cool, understand that shi*t happens, and see what we can do. I went with option 2.
I calmly showed the front desk clerk, Tally was his name, my reservation on my smartphone and somehow that reservation was under another guest’s name too, so he had taken my room (go figure). After about 20-minutes of problem solving with Tally, he found me a room at the inn and all turned out okay.
It was also very interesting to note that Tally was amazed that I remembered his name during this fiasco. I always make it a point to remember people’s names, it’s the most important word to any human being, and the fact that I did so certainly helped encourage Tally to work this out. He also comp’d my taxi ride and a chunk of my room because of the trouble. Well done Tally and Hampton Inn.
- Always stay cool, calm, and collected when situations like this occur, because they will.
- Find ways, regardless of how tired or angry you may be, to understand the other person’s point of view and put yourself in their shoes.
- Be nice – smile, look people in the eyes, remember and use their names in conversation, and say thank you.
In sales, marketing, networking, leadership, as in life, you catch far more flies with honey than with vinegar.