Management: good and bad

Recently, I read the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Some people I know will say out loud, "Finally," as they read this. It actually was pretty eye opening. Now I know the basis of every After school Special I ever watched. It also explained to me some of the American Christian culture, not the evangelical culture in particular, but in general. It also explains why I hated English literature so much, they were so polite that nothing ever happened!!! Below are the points made in Carnegie's book. His techniques are used throughout the book as well. It's hard not to become a Carnegite after reading it. He weaves in testimonies of Carnegites who repented and came to faith in Dale's ways with spectacular results. Not that Dale's ways are so bad. It's barely about memorizing people's names. It's about treating others as you would like to be treated, with respect, with focus, with interest. How hard can it be? As any Christian can tell you, very hard.

Which leads me to an interesting intersection. After finishing the book, the PBS reality show, Texas Ranch House came in the mail. As a family we watched 8 hours of pain and frustration and bad managment. It seems inevitable in these shows that as soon as certain people are designated higher, they treat those beneath them in a way that Dale Carnegie wouldn't approve. However, when people rise to the top, they don't forget their roots. Texas Ranch House shows examples of good managment by the head rancher who rose to his position and bad management by the Christian family and manipulative mangment by the wife of the ranch owner. This isn't the only dynamic, the battle of the sexes was plainly evident also, but as a way to talk about Carnegie's book, it's a fun lens to look at it through.

All about How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Fundamental Techniques in Handling People:
  • "Don't criticize, condemn or complain."
This caused great strife on the ranch. When ranch "owner", Mr. Cooke, criticized everyone publicly for slacking when they slept in after a huge haul of cattle the day before all the cowboys despised him more. He felt that "nice guy" management wasn't making the ranch productive. Now the cowboys did plenty of complaining among themselves about the ranch owner and family, they kept it to themselves, at least verbally.
  • "Give people a feeling of importance; praise the good parts of them."
Did not happen much at all. We don't know if Mr. Cooke gave the cowboys any praise for building all the fencing for the cattle. He would congratulate them on the cattle finds, but he could take it away too. The head cowboy, Robby, seemed to praise his cowboys enough to give them a sense of pride in their new work.
  • "Get the other person to do what you want them to by arousing their desires."
Rallying people to a greater cause can be tedious, especially when you want them to shovel manure. I think it's easier when natural consequences occur to use those as rallying issues. I can't believe the Cooke women did not clean dishes or manure for a week and let the flies breed and swarm. Gross.

Six Ways to Make People Like You:

  • "Become genuinely interested in other people."
I'm sure this was tried.
  • "Smile."
When associated with feelings of manipulation, the smile is not enough.
  • "Remember that a man's name is to him the sweetest and most important sound in any language."
It didn't help on the Texas Ranch House.
  • "Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves."
I think Mr. Cooke tried to be a good listener, which is why the cowboys could say they liked him when they talked to him one on one.
  • "Talk in the terms of the other man's interest."
It's very hard to talk about another person's hobbies or interests, especially if they are boring (to you) or if you are in a rush. Mr. Cooke seemed unable to make the time to spend with his cowboys and his family.
  • "Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely."
Sincerity is proven by action. Actions will undermine your words.

Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking:

  • "Avoid arguments."
Not on TRH.
  • "Show respect for the other person's opinions. Never tell someone they are wrong."
I think respect for opinion's was shown, but it would have been useful to seek opinions from the cowboys before decisions were made.
  • "If you're wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically."
This never happened.
  • "Begin in a friendly way."
Unfortunately, it never ended that way at TRH.
  • "Start with questions the other person will answer yes to."
This takes much preparation which needs time which I don't think Mr. Cooke made, found or did.
  • "Let the other person do the talking."
Mr. Cooke did a good job with this.
  • "Let the other person feel the idea is his/hers."
Didn't happen at TRH.
  • "Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view."
Mr. Cooke, but not Mrs. Cooke, practiced this.
  • "Sympathize with the other person."
Did not happen at TRH.
  • "Appeal to noble motives."
Did not happen at TRH.
  • "Dramatize your ideas."
No inspiration at TRH.
  • "Throw down a challenge."
He did in a nasty way.

Nine Ways to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment:

  • "Begin with praise and honest appreciation."
Mr. Cooke and Robby, but not Mrs. Cooke, practiced this.
  • "Call attention to other people's mistakes indirectly."
Direct method only at TRH.
  • "Talk about your own mistakes first."
Never happened at TRH.
  • "Ask questions instead of giving direct orders."
If only the Cooke's had brought this book with them.
  • "Let the other person save face."
Never happened at TRH. It was a constant power struggle.
  • "Praise every improvement."
Robby did this with the cowboys, not the Cookes though.
  • "Give them a fine reputation to live up to."
  • "Encourage them by making their faults seem easy to correct."
  • "Make the other person happy about doing what you suggest."
If only.

The denial of dysfunction and unwillingness to see one's own faults is especially disturbing. Read the online Q & A at WaPo. One great quote I saw recently says, Our enemy's opinion of us is usually more truthful than our own opinion of ourselves. Sometimes the Cookes were downright mean, especially at the end. They used their position to exact justice. This is part of the concept of abuse of power. Even when caught in a lie on tape, the denial continues. Ms. Cooke saw her own mountain tops but the cowboys' valleys. This brings me back to Carnegie's first principle that he spent much ink on. Everyone walks around with burdens we have no knowledge of which leads to ignorant criticism and condemnation. No matter what the claims were about life off tape or on the cutting room floor, they made huge gaffes and refuse to own them.

One unknown story that stands out though is the homeschooled Christian boy who took over as cook and bridged the two houses. He still maintains a friendship with one of the women. Good on you Shaun.


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