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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Dear Hannah: LEarning (Friends & Influence)

Dear Hannah,

Your friends will be the people who accept and affirm you, hold you accountable, and present you with authority that you respect.

You and your friends will exert powerful influence over each other.

Your charisma will give you powerful influence in the world, too.

Everybody you influence will not become your friend - and that is OK.

The most powerful influence, though, is exerted via self-control.



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"LEarning (Friends & Influence)"
By Derrick Brown

I read books and articles to weigh and consider - even to "wrestle" with - the ideas conveyed by authors.

Sometimes I understand, like, and embrace those ideas - and sometimes I do not.

Sometimes I discern that the author's experiences are different than mine - therefore, their assertions, opinions, and conclusions are different.

Sometimes that is OK, and simply is what it is.

Sometimes I have to "unlearn" the author's assertion, then "relearn" and apply it in the context of my own life.

I often read and wrestle with Dale Carnegie's classic book "How To Win Friends And Influence People".

Its principles have helped me to become a more effective, charismatic leader.

They have also equipped me to fight for freedom and equality.

It may go without saying to some, but the fight for freedom and equality in this world is still a long, difficult, uphill climb.

It is a war with many battles against obvious and subtle opposition.

The freedom fighting contributions are easy to miss in this book's positive, conversational, idealized wisdom - about navigating a world that may only exist for some of us.

But they are easier to see with some creative, skillful "relearning" and contextual application.

My relearning is guided by the awareness that

1. We are not all treated the same way.

2. Nor do we treat each other the same way ...

3. Mature people do not seek to control other people and situations. They are adept at the art of self-control.

Let's work through and wrestle with a few of these ideas ...

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
PRINCIPLE 1 – Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.

It is wise to be a careful observer of human behavior, and to listen more than you talk.

It is just as wise to avoid ever voicing personal (or ad hominem) attacks of any kind.

I have come to realize, though, that anything you say other than "yes" and "amen" can be misconstrued as negative behavior - and can work against you in the court of public opinion ...

... especially telling people "no".

Sometimes you will need to say "no" to requests and expectations.

Sometimes you will have to say "no" to the way you are treated.

The recipient of that "no" may become aghast at your unmitigated gall ... your lack of couth.

" ... how dare you".

" ... well, you know ... you were just so abrupt".

With all that said, though - remember that there is a reason why the letters "n" and "o" are next to each other in the alphabet.

Do not attack, but do not be afraid to take a step back - or walk away.

Vote with your conscience and your feet - and accept that people will think whatever they want to think about your stance.


Ways to Make People Like You
PRINCIPLE 2 – Smile.
PRINCIPLE 5 – Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

Let's wrestle with these two ideas together.

Smiles convey your inner peace, happiness, and goodwill to all who engage your countenance.

Smiles can charm and disarm ... they can warm even the coldest soul.

There is also a type of smile (the one where you drop your chin, feel your forehead wrinkle, and your eyebrows arch) that says "watch yourself there, player".

I say that to say that smiles can convey a range of emotions.

I am a member of a few communities whose interests are frequently overlooked and underrepresented - perhaps even misrepresented - by well-meaning (and not so well-meaning) folks.

In effect, I am usually talking in terms of the other person's interests - by default.

So, in difficult circumstances, my best approach is to listen, to try to think in terms of the other person's interests - and to then be prepared to act in my own best interests ...

... what is their position?

... what do they want?

... what do they mean?

... what are they not saying?

This is easier said than done.

Here's a quick story that helps me with my wrestling and self-reflection.

I was an invited member at a board committee meeting with a group of people that I regarded as close-minded, condescending, and detached from reality.

This was not somewhere I wanted to be - but I needed to be there (this is frequent theme in my life).

When you are the invited member, the unspoken, unbroken rule is that you kinda speak when invited to speak.

I reserve the right to break that rule, and assume all inherent risks (this is another frequent theme in my life).

Anyway, let's just say the discussion reached a tricky, sticky point where I interjected with some force.

I am known for being an intense listener in meetings (often characterized as "quiet") - but I am not "silent".

So, when I speak up and speak out, it surprises folks.

I catch them "slipping" sometimes.

On this day, the committee chair offered a dismissive wave of the hand and said something like " ... oh, smile Derrick ...".

Her words seemed subtle then.

I understand now that she talked down to me in a room full of people - and may have said what more than one person was thinking.

It was somewhere between patting me on the head, and smacking me in the face.

I gave her a big smile, but it was not a "yes, ma'am - happy to be here" smile.

This was more like a "I know somebody's chili just got a little warmer" smile.

Truth is, perhaps both our chilis were a little warm.

That was the last committee meeting I was invited to - and that may have been for the best.

I don't have a clever summary for this one.

Let's go with this - commit your energy to understanding your "temperature" and maintaining self-control.

That provides the best opportunity for people to like you.

Know, though, that you may still encounter circumstances that result in your being disliked.

If that is the case, then it is well.


How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking
PRINCIPLE 8 – Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.

Here's some truth that helps me learn from this book - and to not toss it against the wall.

I do not have many encounters with people who can be "won over".

My encounters are often with folks who like to "run over".

I am - again by default - only allowed to consider their point of view.

My challenge, if you will, is to "slow their roll" ... to give them cause to pause and consider (or reconsider).

So the "win" for me is not to have them think what I think.

Rather, it is to have them someday ... in some small way ... acknowledge and think *about* what I think.

My best opportunity to do this is to offer the truth about my perspective.

Listen carefully to what I am saying - I said "truth about my perspective" - not "truth" (in an absolute sense).

No matter how true "our truth" might seem - understand that you cannot force others to embrace "your truth" as "the truth".

See, today we all take "our truth" as "the truth" - and we all support our truth with irrefutable facts and convenient wisdom.

This can lead to a lot of time wasted with arguments and fights - that amount to little more than thumb wrestling.

I am learning to offer the truth about my perspective with a skillful balance of grace, humility, and firmness.

... and to understand how that truth might be heard ...

... and to then let it be.


Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving or Arousing Resentment
PRINCIPLE 1 – Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
PRINCIPLE 2 – Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
PRINCIPLE 3 – Talk about your own mistakes before criticising the other person.
PRINCIPLE 4 – Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
PRINCIPLE 5 – Let the other person save face.
PRINCIPLE 6 – Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement.
PRINCIPLE 7 – Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
PRINCIPLE 8 – Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
PRINCIPLE 9 – Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

This title once paralyzed me, but I now understand why.

I reject the idea of exerting energy to control other people by coercive, manipulative, patronizing multi-step "recipes" ... no matter how gently and eloquently they are delivered ...

... largely because of several negative experiences of people trying to control me with these approaches.

I accept that I often invite this behavior by being "me".

I am quiet and observant - but not silent.

I am solitary - unafraid to stand alone.

I will speak on it, and say what I think I need to say with confidence, precision, efficiency, rhythm and firmness ... even if it opposes conventional wisdom and trends.

I ain't scared to sound "crazy".

I am also short ... and small ... and still have a bit of a babyface.

My personality intimidates some, and causes some to roll their eyes and dismiss.

My personality, stature, and countenance often invite both passive and active aggression from others.

Some folks cannot help themselves - they experience all of the above.

I intimidate them, and invite their aggression.

This special group of people may never become my friends, or acknowledge my influence.

But I digress.

This principle offers an eternal opportunity to "chew the meat, and spit out the bones".

I embrace exerting energy to practice self-control through empathy, honesty, humility, grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

If I need to deliver a tough word, I become the audience ... and consider how I would say it to myself.

Even then, your words can still be received as an attack.

In that case - it is well.

Let it be and leave it alone.



What have I said?

I hope I said that ...

Friends accept and affirm you, hold you accountable, and present you with authority that you respect.

You and your friends will exert powerful influence over each other.

Your charisma will give you powerful influence in the world, too.

Everybody you influence will not be your friend - and that is OK.

The most powerful influence, though, is exerted via self-control.

About Derrick Brown (Standup Storyteller)

I am Keisha's husband, and Hannah's father.

I am a “standup storyteller.”

I fuse rap, spoken word (poetry), oration (traditional public speaking), singing, and teaching into messages of hope, healing, and change that I write, direct, and produce to help people who help people.

Everything must change - and stay changED.

Tradition begins and ends with change.

Change begins with me and the renewing of my mind ... then continues through efforts to effect small-group discipleship (equipping others to equip others) with audiences that respect and embrace mentoring, mediation, and problem solving as tools of change.

I am the product of my mentoring relationships, peacemaking (and peacekeeping), and problem-solving ability.

My education began when I finished school.

After school, I enrolled in a lifelong curriculum that includes classes in ministry, entrepreneurship, stewardship, literacy, numeracy, language, self-identity, self-expression, and analysis / synthesis.

My projects execute a ministry that has evolved from wisdom earned through lessons learned.

I want to share this wisdom to build teams of "triple threat" fellows - mentors, mediators, and problem solvers.

We will collaborate in simple, powerful ways that allow us to help people who help people.

I now know that power is work done efficiently (with wise and skillful use of resources, interests, communication, and expertise).

Copyright © 2020 Derrick  Brown. All Rights Reserved.

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