About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Dale Carnegie has done more than perhaps any other person to change the field of human relations and personal development. His world-famous program, The Dale Carnegie Course, has helped literally millions of people.
Looking back on his early years, Mr. Carnegie saw that worry and fear were the two forces that prevented him from achieving his own personal success. Conquering these two self-defeating emotions brought Mr. Carnegie a new perspective and new success. As a result, he made it his mission to help others overcome worry and fear so they could achieve their dreams.
Now, with this book, you too can benefit from the nine decades of insights into human relations that millions of people have discovered from Dale Carnegie Training. After experiencing The 5 Essential People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others, and Resolve Conflicts, you'll gain the ability to focus on the factors that will move you and your organization forward. You'll discover and be able to apply these proven practices, which will assist you in feeling empowered, respected, and at ease in any business or personal communication. They will improve your confidence while training you in the ways to get your message across with greater esteem, power, and clarity.
The primary achievement of this book is to identify and explore five essential people skills: rapport building, curiosity, communication, ambition, conflict resolution. But this is really just the beginning. As you'll see, a number of chapters extend and develop the five skills in new and exciting directions. So, as you move through these pages, be flexible in your thinking and proactive in applying the information you gain. Starting right now!
To achieve maximum benefits from this book, don't procrastinate. We suggest that you simply devote five minutes (or more) to begin reading. As you proceed through the book, be sure to complete the Action Steps section at the end of each chapter. These exercises are practical steps you can take immediately -- in your work or with your family and friends.
Whenever possible, give yourself a deadline, and hold yourself accountable for following through on that deadline. If you do not implement the action steps that you have mapped out for yourself, this book simply becomes an exercise in reading. While this is definitely effective, you will gain the full benefits that this valuable book has to offer you by working through the action steps. Make the life-changing choice to act upon your insights, ideas, and strategies, and you will achieve results that you never dreamed of.
Text edition copyright © 2009 by Dale Carnegie & Associates, Inc.
An Introduction to Assertiveness
Just over seventy years ago, Dale Carnegie published a book that remains one of the most influential works of the past hundred years. What's more, it will probably be one of the most influential in the next century as well. That book is called How to Win Friends and Influence People. The title could not be much clearer, could it? The ideas that it contains are every bit as clear, and as valid, today as they were in 1936, when the book first appeared. Although How to Win Friends and Influence People is a monumental document in the history of personal development, it was a true groundbreaker when it first appeared. Before the publication of Dale Carnegie's book, the whole concept of people skills didn't really exist. Yet today we take it for granted that some approaches are better than others in human interactions.
Dale Carnegie's book put forth timeless human relations principles that remain essential today. In fact, their influence is greater than ever before. With the advance in technology and the speed of business, those who master interpersonal skills not only are a greater asset in today's workplace but achieve greater success. Computers and cell phones have made a big difference in our lives, but the importance of effective people skills has not diminished and it never will.
It really is impossible, however, to discuss a topic like people skills (especially in a business environment) without referring to the Internet, cell phones, and emails. These things are everywhere. Where you go, they go. The new technologies have certainly sped up the way things get done in the modern workplace, but they've also raised the expectations of how fast things need to get done. Today, people don't say they need something done tomorrow. They need it "yesterday." It's strange but true, and it's also something of a paradox. Work in many ways has become easier and faster, but work-related tensions are probably higher than ever before. Stress is everywhere and always -- and we all know that when tensions are high, the potential for friction between individuals rises proportionately.
This is the reality we're living in. There's no getting around it. This is the environment in which we must learn to succeed. And when I say "we," I mean "you," no matter who you are or what your career path might be. It doesn't really matter what area of the economy we are in, because the same forces are at play everywhere. So you'd better get on board. Dale Carnegie said it very well: "No matter what your line of work, even if it's in one of the technical professions, your degree of success depends on your ability to interact effectively with other people." Despite the fact that the technical professions are now the most potent sector of the American economy, those words still hold true.
Exploration and Selection
In the chapters that follow, we're going to be looking closely at exactly what's involved in assertive interactions. Our exploration will be quite selective. We've deliberately tried to make the subjects covered in this book very specific and sharply focused. The purpose here is not to say everything but to say a relatively small number of things very well. There are already fine books on the market dealing with conventional topics like effective listening or the keys to making a good sales presentation. But why cover ground that's been thoroughly explored? Instead, we're going to be looking at new areas, including five in particular: rapport building, curiosity, communication, ambition, and conflict resolution -- plus other topics that are natural extensions of these.
But there is one aspect of people skills that can never really receive enough attention, because it's the foundation of every kind of effective human interaction.
We're referring to assertiveness: the ability to speak and act in ways that naturally cause people to respond attentively and positively. It is the basic core element that is at the center of each of the five essential people skills. If you're not prepared to assert yourself in a positive and proactive manner, nothing else can possibly happen. So let's begin by looking at the real meaning of assertiveness in today's work environment -- where you really must make yourself stand out in order to get any attention at all. As this discussion goes on, we'll see how assertiveness differs from other, less effective forms of interaction.
There are a few things we can take for granted. Every human being, for example, has the desire to be treated fairly. We may not feel like fairness is happening, but at least fairness is something we want. What's more, when we feel we are not being treated fairly, we should insist on being treated fairly. We shouldn't just roll over on our backs and play dead, although that's more or less what many people do. To be treated fairly we must clearly, tactfully, and effectively express our preferences, needs, opinions, grievances, and other feelings. Nobody else should have to do this on our behalf. We have a responsibility to express our own needs. We also have a further responsibility to do so in an appropriate and productive way. If we don't do that, we are not only depriving ourselves of what we deserve, we are also depriving the people around us of the real contributions we have to make.
Putting Our Rights and Responsibilities into Action
Establishing reasonable parameters for being treated fairly is what assertiveness really means. These are like traffic laws: Getting where you want to go is important, but that doesn't mean you can run all the red lights. Assertiveness is the middle ground between the two extremes of reckless aggressiveness and defeatist passivity. The genuinely assertive person is neither one of these. Aggressive people are self-centered, inconsiderate, hostile, and arrogantly demanding. They drive people away. Passive people are weak, compliant, and disrespectful of his or her own best interests. They also drive others away -- except perhaps for aggressive people! Between these two poles, however, are people who know how to make their ideas known without preventing others from doing likewise. Your task is to become one of those people. Men and women who can do that are assertive people, and the purpose of this book is to show you how to become one of them. Once you master this skill, you will be doing what's best for yourself and for everyone around you.
That's the broad overview. When we begin to look more closely at assertiveness, however, the picture becomes more complex and even paradoxical. It's much easier to see what assertive isn't than what it is. While it's easy to characterize people who are blatantly aggressive or extremely passive, it's not always simple to express exactly what constitutes assertive behavior. This isn't really an unusual situation when talking about people's behavior. Like many other important human qualities, assertiveness is easier to recognize than it is to define. So let's look at the evidence. We'll begin by looking at some real-life situations in which the quality of assertiveness can come into play.
A Real-Life Example of Effective Assertiveness
Imagine that you've just completed an important project at work that consumed several weeks of your time. What a relief...