I’m taking this Dale Carnegie class. I did not want to take it. At all. My employer all but made me take it.
I’m very surprised to find that I am not hating it. I wouldn’t go quite so far as to say that I’m enjoying it, but I’m not minding it.
So I have this class on Thursday nights. It’s a pretty big class and it’s 3.5 hours long. We all give speeches every week. They only last 2 minutes. We might give more than one. At least one will be in front of the whole class of 35-40 people. It was way freaky at first, but people are really into it now.
Today’s topic was pep-talks and enthusiasm. A month ago in class we gave a small group presentation on something we were going to commit to being more enthusiastic about and today we reported back on that.
We started class today talking about giving and receiving compliments. The giver picks a trait/accomplishment/whatever and gives evidence. The receiver has to also look the giver in the eye and thank them. So we went around in small groups giving compliments to each person and practicing receiving them.
I was pleased and a little surprised by two things.
One was how well we’ve gotten to know something about everyone in the class and how easy it was to pick something to compliment each person in my group on and give specific evidence.
The other was the sorts of things people complimented me on and how what other people perceive to be my strengths are not always what I think of as my strengths, even though clearly I project these things. And I got something different from every person. (You know how some people are kind of unidimensional and get the same feedback from everyone? I would have been disappointed to hear the same thing from everyone.)
The whole group talked about it after the exercise, and a common sentiment was that it felt really good to give the compliment. I didn’t bring it up, but it’s interesting how selfish it is in a way. Giving a compliment makes you feel good. It makes you feel good because the other person feels good. But you certainly get something out of it.
Then I had a realization. If that person doesn’t graciously and sincerely accept that compliment — especially if they actually try to downplay it — you don’t get as much out of it. And you’re probably less likely to give it.
So after we collected our compliments, we took three and wrote them down on a card.
That’s the set up.
The format for full group speeches is that one person is at the front of the room, and two people sit in ready chairs off to the side. The person at the front can’t start until both ready chairs are full.
This time, the ready chairs were at the back of the room. Our instructor, Dan, gave a pep talk to each person in which he yelled “If you act enthusiastic you will be enthusiastic!” a lot. You had to demonstrate some enthusiasm before he would stop. Yell back, jump around, whatnot. You had to announce your three strengths that you were previously complimented on, and the rest of the room whooped and cheered.
Then you went up to the front of the room and gave your 2 minute speech about what you committed to being enthusiastic about.
Naturally, everyone was pretty jazzed and pumped and clearly genuinely enthusiastic about their topics.
(As everyone gets more comfortable speaking and gets a better feel for how long 2 minutes less, folks are less and less prepared before class for their speeches, but that’s okay. It’s less about the actual content and more the style and philosophy.)
We’ve done exercises on energy before, but this was a little different, and the concept of the pep talk was key.
I had another realization.
There are two parts to the pep talk. One is the energy. If someone is crazy brimming with energy, their energy will rub off on you. That’s a given. But in a pep talk, you have to have that positive feedback, those sincere compliments, to give a person confidence. Because that confidence is self-motivation, and when you put that together with the raw energy, it compounds the effect. A good pep talk has to have both parts.
Coaches giving pre-game speeches comes to mind, but that’s an obvious example. Can you translate that to the workplace or another setting?
1. I need to graciously accept compliments.
2. When I’m in the position to give a pep talk, I have to be both affirming and energetic.