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Pearls of Life

(6) Pearls of Life


Be the Kind of Person People Want to Say Yes To

Most of the things we want in life require other people’s cooperation. Whether you

want your partner to lend support, your dad to get off your back, or your boss to give you

a career boost of some kind, achieving your goals, dreams, and ambitions needs someone else to say yes. And this is where some people have a built-in advantage. People just want to say yes to them. There’s something about the way they come across that inspires warmth and friendly support. What a skill to have! And it is a skill-not an innate talent

you either have or you don’t, but a skill that anyone can learn.

The guidelines that follow tell you the strategies I have observed over the years that help people to get a positive response. And what’s more, not only do they help you achieve your aim, they also make you enjoyable to be around and help you to get more pleasure out of life and out of other people. They are an end in themselves, as well as helping you to reach your goal.

Don’t Fake It-Have Real Confidence

Oh yeah, and how exactly are you supposed to do that? If you’re shy or anxious, it’s all

very well saying, “Be confident!” but that’s not how real life works is it? You can’t just turn it on. So why even bother telling you to make it real?

Hang on a minute and hear me out. Confidence is all about knowing what you’re doing. So it stands to reason that the better you know your “script” the more confidence-genuine confidence-you will feel. You just need to think through what you’re doing and be clear about it. Suppose you’re one of those people who hates the whole “do I or don’t I” thing when it comes to handshakes. What if you don’t know whether to offer a hand? Hang on, who put the other person in charge of the script? You just have to decide that you’re doing the handshake regardless, and then as soon as you greet the other person you firmly put out a hand with a broad smile. See? You just wrote the script, and you know exactly what’s in it. And you come across as being confident. So you win all around.

If you know you find meeting and greeting hard, just have a script ready and planned before you get there. Practice in a mirror. Rehearse the moment in your head-play it through as if you are watching it happen. Decide whether you’ll shake hands, and have a few lines of greeting ready or a couple of questions prepared to get a conversation going. You might not feel confident about absolutely everything, but you will feel confident about those crucial first 10 minutes.

It may feel like you’re going through the motions slightly the first couple of times you do this, but believe me it will quickly become a habit, and the confidence soon will be as real as it looks.

Sound Confident

Confidence sells. It sells you. If you’re confident other people will feel they can trust you to do what you say you can; they’ll be inspired to rely on you. Suppose you want to win a tricky pitch at work. If you go in mumbling and looking at your shoes, you’ve given yourself a far harder job than if you start off smiling and speaking clearly. Especially if your competitor is slick and self-confident. It’s the same with your boss and your colleagues.

Come across as shy and unsure of yourself and they won’t be too sure of you either. Confidence is contagious. If you have it, others will feel confident in you.

The way you talk is a huge part of your persona, so here are some quick guidelines for sounding more confident:

● Speak clearly without mumbling or speaking too softly.

● Decide in advance how you’re going to express yourself, so you know what you’re doing when the time comes.

● Practice any tricky conversations in advance, with a friend or in front of a mirror.

● Use positive language: not “I think I should be able to,” but “Yes, I can do that.”

And remember, after you’re in any kind of meeting, you should be thinking about the person you’re with, not about yourself. So at the first sign of selfconsciousness,

give yourself a swift talking to and remind yourself to focus on your companion.

Look Confident

Good, you’re sounding confident and greeting people with a firm handshake or whatever you’ve decided is appropriate. Now need to make sure that your body language matches your confident voice.

I know you don’t want to be worrying about body language while you’re trying to cope with a nervewracking or important meeting. So make it a habit straight away for every encounter. That way you won’t have to think about it after the first couple of weeks, and it will become second nature. People don’t say yes to shy, uncertain looking people who seem to be coming across a bit less diffidently this time. They say yes to people whom they think of as being consistently capable and sure of them.

Look, the aim is to become someone who always behaves in a confident manner. That way, any time you need anything from anyone, they’ll see you in the best light before you’ve even had to ask. So make eye contact, look interested, and adopt an open and relaxed posture. This isn’t difficult-arms by your sides or in your lap, not tightly folded or hands blocking your face. Sit back in your chair and don’t perch nervously on the edge of it-that sort of thing.

Study other people to see who seems relaxed and confident and who doesn’t-and why.

So now you’re confident, you’re friendly, you’re self-assured, you’re warm…how could anyone say no to you?




(7) Pearls of Life

"Focusing is about saying no" - Steve Jobs


Learn to Say No

You’ll struggle getting people to say yes to you if you can’t say no to other people. Doesn’t sound fair, does it? But you don’t necessarily have to say no to the same people you want a yes from. The point is that often what you want requires time. That’s a commodity that’s hard to come by if you can’t say no. Or maybe you need a peaceful life (don’t we all), perhaps because you’re under particular stress at the moment, and you really don’t want anything difficult or complicated dumped in your lap.

You know that expression, “If you want something done, asks someone who’s busy?” That partly works because the people who are busiest are usually the worst at saying no, so they’ll always say yes to you.

Listen carefully: You don’t want to be that person. Now don’t take this as an excuse never to do anything for anyone. That’s not what I’m saying. I just want you to do things for people for the right reasons, and not because you couldn’t bring yourself to say no to them.

It’s really important that you grasp the connection between saying no and getting what you want. I’m not pretending it’s vital in every instance, but there are lots of things that you’ll struggle to achieve if you don’t have a clear head. How are you going to organize that group holiday, or clear time for that evening class, or write the report that will wow your boss, or find time to meditate, or whatever, if you’re running around desperately trying to do all the things you promised other people just because you couldn’t say no?

 Give Them na Alternative

 People who don’t like to say no generally feel that it’s rude or unkind to turn people down when they’re asking for something. It just doesn’t feel right saying no-you feel you should try to help, not obstruct. OK, fine. So you can still help them. Just don’t do it by saying yes. That may be what they think they want, but actually it’s not. Suppose a neighbor asks you to babysit and you just don’t have the time. Do you feel you’re letting them down if you say no? But you’re not…because actually they don’t need you to babysit. They just need someone to babysit. If you can help them to a solution that doesn’t involve you, then everyone gains.

So you could tell them, “I can’t, but have you tried Julie?” or “I really can’t tonight, but I could do next Wednesday if that helps?” Suppose a colleague asks you to cover so they can take a short vacation next week. You’re too busy, but you can still help: “Not next week, no. I could cover for you after the 25th though.” Or, “I’ve got too much work, but I can sort out your orders at the same time as mine if that helps.”

You’re perfectly entitled just to say no of course. I’m only trying to help you here if you have trouble doing that. Also, if your neighbor or colleague goês away feeling that you’ve helped them-even if you haven’t actually said yes to their original request- they’re more likely to cooperate next time you need their help to get what you want.

 Be a Broken Record

Everyone else doesn’t necessarily care as much as you do that you get what you want. How much time do you spend helping other people achieve their aims? I hope you sometimes help, but your real focus is your own stuff surely? Well it’s the same for everyone else. They won’t all be as focused as you, and they may need reminding. Come to that, you may need reminding. When work is going well, the sun is shining, no big bills have come in lately, your relationship is going smoothly and there are no clouds on the horizon, it’s easy to let things ride. Suddenly you realize that months have gone by, or that you’re about to hit problems, and you still haven’t got what you want.

So keep reminding yourself, your partner, your boss, or whoever needs to know that you haven’t taken your eye off the ball. Remind your boss every few weeks that you’re anxious to find a role where you spend more time with customers. Keep asking your partner (without nagging) how he’s getting on with reducing his hours at work. Make sure your sister is on the case with the plans for that big family event, and check what she needs your help with. If you don’t do this, how will anyone (yourself included) know that you haven’t changed your plans, and that this is still important to you?

 Be Sure You’re

 SorrySome people are programmed to apologize no matter what. Just to keep the peace, I suppose. I don’t really know-it’s not one of my traits frankly. But I can see that it’s intended to be conciliatory, which should in theory be a good thing. But it’s not good to do it to excess. I know people who say “sorry” when someone walks straight into them, and take the blame for a mix-up that was clearly caused by the other person not listening, and apologize for serving up “burned” food when no one had noticed it was a bit brown on top, and say sorry for delivering a report late when the facts were changed two days before it was due. If it’s not your fault, don’t apologize. You don’t have to blame anyone else; you can express regret that things have turned out this way, you can acknowledge the mess-up, but don’t actually say sorry when you’ve done nothing wrong.

What this has to do with getting what you want, you may be wondering. Well, I’ll tell you. It’s back to that confidence thing. People are far more likely to feel confident in you, respect you, and trust you, if you come across as being reliable, confident, and trustworthy. That’s not exactly rocket science, is it? So if you keep apologizing you give the unconscious impression that you keep making mistakes. Why would your bank manager give you a loan, your boss give you a promotion, your dad lend you his car, your friend go on vacation with you, or your neighbor let you take three feet off the top of the hedge between your gardens, if you keep messing up?



(8) Pearls of Life

 Dreams of Peace


Say What You Mean

I once heard someone offer an under-assertive friend a favor and the friend said no in such a roundabout fashion that the person actually thought she’d said yes, and did it anyway. The friend was annoyed at them doing the opposite of what she’d said-having simply not realized how obtuse they had been. Here’s how the conversation went.

Let’s call them Sam and Ali: Sam: “I’m just taking Jess down to the park to Play on the swings. I could take Hester along if that’s OK with you?” Ali: “Well, that’s a very kind offer. You know, I’m funny about it. I always think I should keep an eye on her myself. But I’m sure I’m being silly. I mean, what’s going to happen? I know it ought to be fine.”

Ali meant no, but Sam heard yes. Ali could have simply said no, but she was worried that this would seem like a rude rejection of Sam’s offer, so she wriggled around trying to justify it so much that she didn’t actually say no at all. In the event, Ali disappeared into the kitchen for five minutes, and when she came back she panicked because she couldn’t see Hester anywhere. I told her Sam had taken Hester and Jess to the park. Ali was appalled that Sam would do that when she’d said no. But neither Sam nor I had heard her say no. So there’s a little moral tale for you.6 If you’re one of those people who hates saying no outright, get over it.

You can still explain your choice if you feel the need, but make sure you say no unequivocally at the start.

 Think Before You Speak

Maybe you’re not under-assertive. Perhaps you know that far from pussyfooting around, you can come across as being a little brusque. Maybe it’s your choice of words, or maybe it’s just your manner. Or both. Are you the type to call a spade a spade, or do you intend to be polite and it sometimes just comes out wrong? Either way, you must have noticed that it doesn’t help you get what you want from people. If someone is going to say yes to you, you want to make it as easy as possible for him. In fact you want to make it hard to say no. You want to make them like and respect you so that they want to support you, and to express your request in such a way that it would seem churlish to refuse.

So if you have anything to say that might cause offense or upset someone, catch yourself before you start the conversation and remind yourself not to be personal or to place blame, and to concentrate on the situation and not on the people. And promise yourself, if necessary, that after you’ve made your point, you’ll shut up.

This is a wise rule if you’re going to ask for something, but this book is primarily about getting what you want without having to ask. So I’m not talking only about direct requests-I’m talking about all your dealings with people whom you want to be well-disposed toward you. If you unintentionally make your colleague feel small at this week’s

meeting, he’s much less likely to offer to help you out next week when your workload gets heavy. If you sound irritable when your neighbor asks you to babysit, they’re less likely to offer to hold the fort so you can go out.

Be Prepared to Disagree

Sometimes you have to say when you think someone is wrong. This is about earning respect. (And people are more likely to say yes to people they respect-aren’t you?) If you can argue a case clearly and without malice, people will have time for you and will want to listen to your views in the future because you clearly express your own thoughts rather than parroting what you think they want to hear.

It’s also about being on the right side. Sometimes you actually believe that someone is arguing for a course of action that you consider morally or ethically unacceptable, and when that happens you have to say so. Suppose there’s a case of pilfering in the office and everyone is giving Ella the cold shoulder because they think she’s the culprit. But you can see their evidence is purely circumstantial, and you’re concerned that they’re mistreating Ella. You can’t keep quiet about it-you have to disagree with their stance.

Anyone reasonable should welcome disagreement so long as it’s expressed in the right way. Yes, I know there are always a few people who aren’t reasonable, but at least you can make sure you’ve done your best, and anyone listening will think better of you for it. The key to disagreeing nicely is to disagree with what the person is saying, and not with the person herself. I know this sounds like a technicality, but it makes a lot of difference to how the other person responds.

You want to avoid direct criticism of the person, so don’t say things like, “No!” or “You’re wrong” or “You’ve got the wrong end of the stick there.” Aim to comment on what she’s said, and express it as an opinion, however firm an opinion: “I don’t think that’s the way it works,” or “I’m pretty certain we’ll go adrift if we do that.” You see? You’re concentrating on their line of reasoning, not on them.

Control Yourself

What is it that makes some people more difficult to deal with than others? I’ll tell you, and you’ll realize you already knew it really. The thing that gets in the way of making all interactions straightforward is emotion. Negative emotion to be specific. And the more extreme the emotion, the more it gets in the way. When the person you’re dealing with is angry, upset, nervous, hurt, disappointed, touchy, stressed, frustrated, resentful, anxious-that’s when it’s hardest to get the result you want.

And guess what makes things twice as tricky? Yep, that’s right: when both of you are emotional. Two upset, angry, resentful, worried people will double your problems, if not worse. So the first thing you can do to ease those emotionally charged conversations is to make sure that you have your own emotions under control. Look, I’m not talking about whether your feelings are justified here, I’m just talking about how to actually get the result you want.

Of course I know that isn’t always easy, but stay focused on what you want to achieve and recognize that keeping calm is the best way to achieve it, and that should help you to keep a lid on it. If you really can’t stay cool, just walk away until you can trust yourself with the conversation. There are plenty of ways to deal with other people’s emotions, but you’ll struggle to manage any of them until you have your own under control.


(9) Pearls of Life




Express Yourself

I just said that you need to control your emotions. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ever express how you feel. Just express it in words rather than by demonstration. Of course there are times when it’s important to let someone know that you’re disappointed, or angry, or hurt, or frustrated. They are more likely to give you what you want if they understand how you feel. However, it won’t help if you shout, or sulk, or burst into tears.

The way to let someone know that you feel angry is blindingly simple. You say, “I feel angry.” That’s so much better than yelling at them. No one wants to help someone who intimidates them-or puts them down, or makes them feel small, or puts emotional pressure on them, or makes them feel uncomfortable.

So don’t do those things to people if you want them on your side. In fact, to take it one step further, say “I feel angry when…” and then explain what the problem is. This phrase is handy because it’s not accusatory-you’re focusing on the other person’s behavior and not on them personally. No one wants to be told, “I feel angry because you’re being unreasonable because you won’t listen/because you’re putting your interests first.” Much easier to hear, “I feel angry when I feel I’m not being heard/I feel my interests are being ignored.” It’s just a less confrontational, more constructive way to get the other person to listen to you.

 Don’t Use Emotional Blackmail…

 Nobody likes being emotionally blackmailed. Some people may give in to it, especially if assertiveness isn’t their middle name, but they still know you’re doing it. And given half a chance they’ll say no to you. Personally I’m pretty intolerant of emotional blackmailers, and even if they have a valid request I find myself wanting to refuse them because I object to being manipulated.

“I’ll be in real trouble if you don’t help me with this….” “Please can I take Friday afternoon off? It’s my little girl’s ballet show and she’ll be so disappointed if I’m not there….” “Come on, let’s go out tonight. I’ve had a miserable week and I really need to get out, and there’s no one else I can go with.” All those requests are reasonable if they’re expressed without emotional pressure. It’s fine to explain that you want the afternoon off for your daughter’s ballet show, but not fine to lay on the emotional stuff-implying that if your boss says no they’ll be personally responsible for your daughter’s misery.

Emotional blackmail is a sly and underhand way to try and get what you want, and my experience is that people who use it may be successful this time, but in the long run they lose out. I wouldn’t want to be that kind of person, and I hope you wouldn’t either.

Besides which, it won’t actually get you what you want in the end, and people will be likely to see you as someone they’d like to say no to, even if they can’t always manage it.

 …and Don’t Give In to It

You need to avoid being on the receiving end of emotional blackmail, too. Otherwise you’ll end up saying yes to things you don’t have the time or the enthusiasm for, just because you’ve been guilt-tripped into them. Some people, me included, find this avoidance quite easy. Emotional blackmail irritates me and I give it short shrift. But I know that if you’re not very assertive, or you’re susceptible to guilt, it can be hard. The first thing is to recognize it. If you’re feeling guilty or uncomfortable about the way you’re responding to someone, ask yourself if you’re being emotionally blackmailed. If the answer is yes, focus on that fact and not on the guilt they’re trying to engender in you.

Listen, emotional blackmail is not responsible, adult behavior. It’s unfair and it’s manipulative and people who do it don’t deserve to get what they’re asking for, even if their request is otherwise reasonable. They’ve isqualified themselves by cheating. Now just practice whatever technique you have for saying no to them, such as the stuck record technique. Sometimes it can help to challenge them, especially if you can do it with humor: “Careful now, or I’ll think you’re trying to emotionally blackmail me….”

And if that doesn’t help you to resist, think about this: Every time you give in to emotional blackmail you encourage that person to do it again. So you’re partly responsible for the discomfort of the next person who gets guilt-tripped, and the one after that…or am I just emotionally blackmailing you now?

 Treat People with Respect

Everyone deserves respect, and more to the point everyone wants it. If you remember that, people will be far more likely to be on your side, to want to help you when you need it. How many neighbors, bosses, family or colleagues have you encountered who make you feel unimportant at times? Maybe they don’t bother to listen when you speak, or perhaps they ignore you because you’re junior to them, or they expect you to do things for them without asking properly, or they never bother to thank you for anything. I had one boss who used to take credit for all my ideas. I know people who’ll shout at you just because they disagree with you. I had a colleague who wouldn’t make me a cup of coffee because she considered that I was slightly junior to her.

Then again, I once encountered an important client who insisted on making me coffee on the grounds that I was much busier than he was at that particular moment. I’ve had other bosses in the past who credited my ideas (one who did so only when they turned out right, and took the rap herself when the ideas were lame), and neighbors who have brought me gifts to thank me for the simplest of favors. I know which of all those people I’d want to help out and which I wouldn’t be bothered about. It’s especially important to treat people with respect as you become more senior-at work, in the family, as a school parent, or a local resident. People are especially sensitive to being ignored or put down by people they see as being senior. So even if you mean no disrespect but are just preoccupied or busy or in a hurry, you need to make sure you never forget to show people that you’ve noticed them.



(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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