As a continuation of my discussion last month on Dale Carnegie’s famed “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book, I wanted to focus this month on the chapter titled “You Can’t Win an Argument.” In this chapter Dale notes that “nine times out of ten, an argument ends with each of the contestants more firmly convinced than ever that he is absolutely right.” Therefore, you can’t really “win” an argument because if you are correct you lose and if you are not correct, you lose.

This reminds me of great advice I learned from listening to recordings from Zig Ziglar. Zig talks about how once someone tells you “no”, you won’t get them to change their minds. Do people change their minds – YES, but only because they “make a new decision based upon new information.” So, to get people to see/understand your point of view better, you will need to provide additional information so they can make a new decision based upon new information.

Here are some suggestions from Dale’s book that come from an article in “Bits and Pieces” about how to keep a disagreement from becoming an argument:

  • Welcome the disagreement
  • Distrust your first instinctive impression
  • Control your temper
  • Listen first
  • Look for areas of agreement
  • Be honest
  • Promise to think over the opponents’ ideas and study them carefully
  • Thank your opponents sincerely for their interest
  • Postpone action to give both sides time to think through the problem

Happy Reading!

“So what is it that people need and want? People need and want a satisfying experience of life. Over the past three years I have asked more than ten thousand respondents, ‘If you had to choose between balance and satisfaction, which would you choose?’ Not a single respondent chose balance over satisfaction. People want to live deeply satisfying lives both personally and professionally.”

The above quote is taken from Matthew Kelly’s book, “Off Balance, Getting Beyond the Work-Life Balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction.” I re-read this book on a recent trip and found it to have multiple thought-provoking ideas and suggestions. In the book, Matthew takes a closer look at the “Work-Life Balance” discussion, and relates it back to specific steps you can take to explore this balance in your own life.

In my experience, structural engineering is a very challenging profession on multiple fronts. There is the stress of knowing that designs for structures must keep people safe, and that any mistakes could have life safety impacts. In addition, the ever present threat of lawsuits always lingers, along with constant pressures to work faster and meet compressed schedules. Therefore, having a good system to deal with the pressures of work while creating a fulfilling life is critical.

In his book, Matthew Kelly outlines a helpful “process” for increasing your personal and professional satisfaction level (as engineers, we tend to like “processes”). There are five facets to this process:

  1. Assessment
  2. Priorities
  3. Core Habits
  4. Weekly Strategy Session
  5. Quarterly Review

I definitely recommend this book, and have incorporated many of its suggestions into my own life. The book is only 137 pages and is an “easy read” to fit into a hectic schedule. It’s available on Amazon for about $17, or $15 for the Kindle edition. Why not invest less than $20 to help improve your life?

Have a Magnificent March!

Have you subscribed yet to the free emails from Craig Jarrow, author of TimeManagementNinja.com? If not, you owe it to yourself to do it NOW! Craig does a wonderful job of posting useful information that can help you in many areas of your life, both professionally as well as personally.

Here are a few of his top posts for 2013…

21 Ways to Define a Positive Attitude

29 Ways You’re Wasting Time Today

6 Ways to Empty Your Head and Get to Bed

10 Big Differences Between Goals and Dreams

12 Apps I Use Every Day to Be Productive

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Have a Wonderful and SAFE Holiday Season!


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