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(10) Pearls of Life

Céline Dion - The Power of Love


Have Plenty of Time

I used to work with someone who was always in a hurry. Whenever she phoned she was on a railway platform waiting for a train, and had to cut you off when the train came in. Or she’d be cooking dinner while she talked, and had to put you on hold while she checked the oven. Or she’d be at the school gates and she’d have to go because her son was just coming out. And that’s when she called me. If ever I called her (which I tried to avoid because I found her so difficult to hold a conversation with), I’d be asked to call back later.

The net result of all this was that she gave everyone the impression that they were less important than everything else in her busy life. You always came second to the train, the oven, her son. (OK, maybe that last one is fair.) It was disrespectful and irritating and infuriating and patronizing.

Obviously I know there are times when you really are busy. There’s no need to initiate phone calls (or other contact) at those times and then cut it off abruptly. By all means have times when you mention at the beginning that you’re not free to talk. But make sure there are also plenty of times when you are available for a chat over the garden fence, or with a cup of coffee, or by the photocopier. Those are the times when people get to see the real you, and when you can show-just by giving them your time-that you value them. Those are the things that will get people on your side, not to mention being beneficial to themselves because both of you will feel better for it.

 Be Likeable

I know this seems obvious, but if people like you they’ll be far more likely to want to help you, preferably before you’ve even had to ask. It’s how you feel about other people after all, isn’t it? Being likeable really shouldn’t be that hard. You don’t have to be the center of the party, everyone’s best friend. You can be quiet and likeable, too, you know. In fact, if you think about it, you probably like several people you don’t actually have much in common with, or even find slightly irritating, so long as the irritation is harmless-talking a bit too much, or being a bit too giggly and childish, or never sitting still long enough for a decent conversation. Being likeable is really about being straightforward, easygoing, and friendly. A warm smile, a cooperative manner, no sulks or manipulating or temper or negative emotional outbursts. On top of that, aim to be a “what you see is what you get” kind of person. You say what you mean and there’s no bitching behind backs or deceit or arrogance. Think about people you consider likeable-not your best friends but people you know less well and just find that you like. You’ll probably find that they all fit that broad picture-straight-up, easy to chat to, good listeners (their conversation isn’t all about them), and you don’t feel uncomfortable that you’re about to say the wrong thing, or that they’re not all they seem.

 Have a Sense of Humor

 I’m not sure you can just acquire a sense of humor. Sadly, you can’t go out and buy one. Everyone’s is different and some are more obvious than others. Some of us have more of a sense of fun than a sense of humor. That’s OK. What I’m saying here is that whatever your sense of humor, let it show-at least as long as it’s not catty or cruel. Some people seem to feel that being humorous somehow undermines their authority or seriousness. They put their sense of humor away when they’re at work, or on the school board. As far as I’m concerned, laughter is what makes life worth living. And the more you can make other people laugh, the more well-disposed they’ll be toward you. And that’s what you’re aiming for. Make people laugh and they’ll do anything for you. It’s not only that though. The thing about humor is that it’s so distinctive: Each one of us has such a unique sense of humor that the more we use it, the more it defines our personality-n a positive way. When you shut down your humor you lose a large chunk of yourself along with it. So let it all out, don’t be afraid to see the funny side of things, and help others to see it, too.

 Be Honest

You know perfectly well that everyone prefers dealing with honest friends and colleagues. The problem is that most dishonest people are under the delusion that they’re getting away with it. If everyone thinks you’re honest, well, that’s as good as actually being honest, isn’t it? Leaving aside the morals of the question, then yes-t probably is just as good. Except that everyone doesn’t think it. Look, I’m not talking about occasionally blaming the traffic for being late when actually you know it was your own fault for cutting things a bit close. I’m talking about premeditated dishonesty to achieve what you want. Getting ahead by deception. Using lies to wriggle out of responsibilities. Adopting untruthful means to further your own ends. Don’t imagine for one minute that you’re getting away with it. For sure, you may get away with individual instances. You may even be clever enough to make it work repeatedly. But other people can sense you’re not honest, and that will deter them from helping you. Maybe it’s your body language, or maybe you’re just a bit too good to be true, or perhaps there’s something small you’ve overlooked. They may not be able to pin it on you, they may not have any proof-or even any evidence-but they will simply know that they don’t quite trust you. Far better to live the kind of lifestyle that doesn’t require you to lie, cheat, deceive, or manipulate. Just be honest-what’s the problem with that?





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