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“A no-nonsense approach to building your business through relationships.”

~ Jane Applegate, syndicated Los Angeles Times columnist

Archive for the ‘Influence’ Category

Why We Sabotage Our Happiness

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Why We Sabotage Our HappinessOver a couple of recent posts we looked at happiness based on the premise that — whether consciously or not — it is a person’s main motivation. However, it can only be attained by acting in accordance with one’s values.

We then defined happiness as being the mental feeling of well-being. We also saw that happiness is different for different people, as what brings happiness to one does not necessarily hold that same (or any) value for another.

The final question then, was:

3. If one’s main motivation is happiness, then why do so many otherwise-intelligent people seem to make decisions that are obviously contrary to their happiness?

This one’s the biggie. If human beings were logic-based creatures, it would not even be an issue. We’d base everything we do on what would bring us happiness; that mental feeling of well-being. But we know many people who don’t. And, maybe we don’t; at least not always.

Again, why?

I believe that while the definition of happiness we’ve been using is correct, it’s also not quite complete. As human beings, everything we do ultimately coincides with our beliefs; our subjective “truths” about life. I devoted an entire chapter to this in Adversaries into Allies where we discuss Belief Systems.

That unconscious operating system that drives our thoughts and decisions tells us what we believe the truth about life is, and — along with that — what we believe we deserve. And, unless we are living in accordance with those beliefs, we won’t be comfortable and will not experience that sense of mental well-being.

The paradox is that, if you don’t truly believe you should be happy, then you “cannot be happy being happy.” You might only be happy (the sense of mental well-being) when you’re miserable.

This is sad. It’s so very sad. It is the cause of people going from one bad relationship to another, it’s the cause of people keeping themselves struggling financially, and it’s the cause of many more counter-productive acts.*

So, before anything else, we must truly believe that happiness is one of life’s truths, and we must truly believe we deserve to be happy. Only then, can we be happy being happy.

Of course, I’d love to know your thoughts.


*The best book I’ve ever read on this subject and how to overcome it is Psycho-Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz.

Happiness: It’s Really A Personal Thing

Friday, February 28th, 2014

happinessIn a recent post, we explored happiness as being a person’s main motivation. And, that it can only be attained by acting in accordance with one’s values.

I then posed a few questions and received some excellent responses. I’d like to restate the questions here, and answer them per my own understanding.

1. How do we define happiness? One of my earlier mentors, Harry Browne, defined it as, “The mental feeling of well-being.” I agree, but take it just a bit further and say, “A genuine feeling of ongoing joy and peace of mind, the result of living in accordance with your values.”

The key in both definitions is an overall feeling rather than something temporary, though every decision we make in the moment is based on seeking happiness whether it be short or long-term. Which leads to the next question:

2. Is “a sense of” happiness different for different people? Absolutely! As Harry wrote in his wonderful book, The Secret of Selling Anything (which was as powerful a “life lesson” as it was a sales lesson), “Happiness is relative. People experience happiness in different ways. People place different values on different things. What brings happiness to one person is meaningless to another.”

This is why a big mistake leaders and salespeople make when desiring to influence others is to assume that what brings us happiness will necessarily bring them happiness. It is also why influence is always about them, not about us.

The final question was:

3. If one’s main motivation is happiness, then why do so many otherwise-intelligent people seem to make decisions that are obviously contrary to their  happiness?

While I’ve never been a big fan of cliff-hangers, let’s discuss this one in the next post. Any additional thoughts based on the above?

How to Let Someone Down Easily

Monday, February 10th, 2014

How to Let Someone Down EasilyThis post is longer than usual. And, while this reader’s situation might not be one you’ll ever have to face, someone you know — including your child — might.

Regardless, the principle involved should still come in handy in your dealings with others.


A college student, “Patty” wrote:

“I finished Adversaries into Allies and found it to be incredibly useful. While I was reading the section about saying no I thought of a scenario that wasn’t directly addressed and now find myself actually in it. I’m wondering how your advice for saying no translates into personal relationships. I’m in college and a boy in my class last semester asked me to get coffee. Thinking it was casual (telling myself it was casual) I agreed and we have been in e-mail contact ever since. He’s now referred to our correspondence as dating which, in my mind, it definitely is not. Is there a way to politely say no while still maintaining this new friendship?

My reply:

Thank you for your nice note and kind words about the book. I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

Regarding your question, yes, that is always a difficult situation, regardless of age. Obviously, you don’t want to unintentionally lead your friend on to thinking that what you have is more than friendship but you also don’t want to needlessly hurt his feelings, and you’d like to keep him as a friend.

Depending upon whether you feel as though you could more kindly but effectively let him know by email or by phone, you can choose one or the other.

You could say or write something along the lines of…

“I was a bit surprised when you mentioned in a recent email that we were “dating.” While I appreciate your compliment, it’s not how I understand it. I hope you are okay with our just being friends, which I’d enjoy.”

If you’ll notice in the above, Patty, just as in the chapter about saying no, I didn’t include any excuses. Also, not knowing him personally and if he is rational (and, thus, can simply accept his mistake without feeling victimized and blaming you), I didn’t include any apology or add anything about you being the cause of the misunderstanding. Sometimes, it is okay to put the “onus” of the misunderstanding onto oneself even when that’s not really the case (in order for the other person to not feel defensive or blamed — remember the “I-Message”). But in this case I felt it best not to go that route so as not to give him something to grab onto. Again, just in case he is too emotional about it.

Yes, these are always difficult situations at best. I hope thinks work out. Please let me know.

Patty responded:

“Thank you so much for your advice. I emailed him and wrote almost exactly what you suggested and it worked perfectly. We are on the same page now and it wasn’t awkward or uncomfortable like I was imagining it would be. Thank you also for explaining why you didn’t include an excuse. My first instinct, even after reading your book, was to apologize for any misunderstanding because I wasn’t sure what other way to go but what you said made a lot of sense. Again, thank you for response.”

I wrote back:

My pleasure. I’m so glad it worked out! Indeed, it is very tempting (and certainly intuitive) to make an excuse or to blame oneself in that situation in order to let the other person down easily or take the pressure off. Very important in this case not to, again, only because in case he was irrational or had tendencies to be, I didn’t want to provide him with any emotional ammunition to blame you.

I remember many years ago reading a book about stalkers and one important piece of advice the author gave was that, with many of them, if you give them an excuse they’ll take that literally and believe that “if it weren’t for ________ she’d then want to be with me.”

In other words, if you say that it’s because you’re already involved with someone then they will think, “Well, if she wasn’t involved with him we could be together.” (Talk about dangerous.) If you say that you have a busy schedule then they’ll think, “When her schedule slows down we can be together.”

And, if you blame yourself for the misunderstanding, that can cause them to feel like, “oh, it’s all her fault, she deserves whatever happens.”

Of course, both are totally, totally illogical conclusions for the stalker to make but, by the very nature of what they are, logic doesn’t enter into the equation.

So, not that I’m thinking that your friend is a stalker, of course. Just not wanting to take any chances.

Sounds like you handled things perfectly.


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Making A Joke At Someone Else’s Expense

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Making A Joke At Someone Else's ExpenseAre you about to make a joke at someone else’s expense?

Here’s my suggestion:

First, think about it for a moment…..

Then, wait a bit…..

Think about it some more…..

Now, wait just a bittttt more…..

Now…………………….DON’T DO IT!

Nope, don’t do it. No upside (other than perhaps a fleeting moment of false superiority).

Huge downside, including — but not limited to — hurting another human being’s feelings; making yourself look bad; destroying trust with the target of the joke; losing trust (thus influence) with those who are witness to, or hear about, the insult; and being disliked without a principle-based reason for it.

If you MUST make a joke at someone’s expense, make sure it’s at your expense.

And, remember, if say something to someone that you meant to be harmlessly funny and then find yourself having to say, “I was only kidding” then it probably wasn’t funny in the first place.

Your thoughts?

The Rope of Leadership and Influence

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Recently on Facebook and Twitter I posted the following:

“How far can you push a rope? Not very far.
That’s why true influencers don’t push.”

A reader asked, “But if you think about how hard and how often to “pull” when are you being strategic and when merely manipulative?”

I thank him for caring enough to want to use influence for good.

First, a powerful influencer does not pull hard; they pull gently.

Regarding the second part of his question, it depends whether you are thinking only of yourself without caring how it affects the other person. That would be manipulation.

On the other hand, if you are focused on helping them; combining the benefits of your goal with THEIR wants, needs, desires, goals, and values then it’s very positive; what I would call “positive persuasion.”

It’s also important to interpret the quote in context. If a person wanted to utilize the message in order to manipulate, they could. But, it’s not good business and it’s not good life.

Once you obtain a reputation for being self-centered and manipulative, you’ll find people staying away from you in droves. And, even those people who must be around you and work with you will resist and perhaps even sabotage whenever possible.

If one wants to use the message of the quote in order to benefit those they are influencing, they can do that. And, that’s what great leaders; what great influencers do.

And, that’s why they are successful.