Articles providing practical, field-tested advice to sales professionals.

Location: Houston, Texas, United States

Thursday, February 24, 2005


Rockefeller once said, "The ability to deal with people is just as purchasable as sugar and salt and I will pay more for that ability than any other ability under the sun". The great men of history have not achieved their success through technical know-how alone, but the secret of their success is due to their ability to lead, motivate and inspire people.

The question is, have only a few lucky people been born with this ability, or can it be taught, learned and developed? Can we learn to control the behavior of the people around us without the use of force?

The various fields of engineering - mechanical, electrical and civil are based on rules and principles of Physics that is the study and application of the Natural Laws of our physical universe.

When an engineering problem arises, the engineer uses the "Scientific Approach" which is the proper application of the basic laws and principles pertaining to the particular problem or situation to achieve the right solution every time.

However, these laws and principles are applied to inanimate objects or "things" and they have no reciprocal effect on the engineer himself.

"People Engineering" is based on the rules and principles relating to and con­trolling human behavior or the action, reaction and inter-action of human beings. One great difference is that these rules and principles are not applied to inanimate "things" but to real, live human beings with a mind, will and emotions of their own who will react violently when they feel that they have been abused or treated unfairly.

In addition, the learning and development of skill in applying these principles will always have a tremendous effect on the "People Engineer" himself - and it will always be to the good. Before these principles work on other people, they must have worked on the engineer himself.

In order to become an effective "People Engineer" there are things you "Don't Do", things you "Show" and things you "Become".

Negative Principles

1. Don't criticize
2. Don't argue
3. Don't lie
4. Don't do all the talking
5. Don't use flattery

Positive Principles

1. Show appreciation
2. Show friendliness
8. Show empathy for his opinions and convictions
4. Show respect for his dignity

Personality Traits

1. Be sincere
2. Be humble
3. Be kind
4. Be patient
5. Be tolerant
6. Be fair
7. Be steadfast
8. Be honest
9. Be open-minded

As you become a more effective "People Engineer" you will find your life chang­ing in a remarkable way. Your relationship with your family will be happier and more satisfying. Your friendships will become richer, deeper and more valuable to you. You will gravitate to a place of leadership in your civic, social and business organizations that will satisfy the hidden longing deep within each of us to win the acclaim and recognition of the people around us.
The financial rewards are sure to follow because you will develop the highest priced commodity of our world today - The ability to control human behavior without the use of force.

Monday, February 14, 2005


Words trigger mental pictures. It is estimated that three-quarters of our business day is spent in verbal communications. The importance of the spoken word is frequent­ly underestimated. We often take the ability to say what we mean for granted. Speaking effec­tively may not be as easy as it seems.

Verbal misunderstand­ing can lead to confusion and resentment among family, friends and business associates. Poor verbal communication between co-workers, superiors and subordinates can damage company morale.

Every organization is at the mercy of language. We hear and read a lot about the fabulous technical advances in our "communication systems" ... but these breakthroughs do not diminish the importance of the spoken and written word.

Much of the information that is trans­mitted through our HiTech systems is numerical. These figures may need to be explained verbally if they are to be total­ly understood. Why is it that we do not seem to be concerned about being as exact with our words as we are with our numbers. We painstakingly check and recheck our numerical calculations, but may be much less concerned about what we say and how we say it. Why?

Research reveals that 30% of today's managers' time is spent speaking and 45% listening. So that adds up to three quarters of a manager's time is spent talk­ing or listening to others talk.

Why is the spoken word so neglected? Maybe because we think "talking" just comes naturally. And if we can get our idea straight, the words will automatical­ly come out right.

Have you ever noticed words can mean different things to different people at different times. For example, there are 164 different definitions of the word 'cul­ture'. What is the difference between "biannual" and "biennial"? Ask a New Jersey legislator because they are meet­ing every six months not every two years as intended. The founding fathers of the New Jersey Constitution used the term "biannual" instead of "biennial". "Biannual" means twice a year. " Biennial" means every two years. When in doubt check the dictionary.

The difference between the almost right and the right word is really a very bit matter - "'tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightening" - is the way Mark Twain explained it.

Our constant challenge is to adjust our speech to our listener's ability to compre­hend. If a message is confused - is it the speaker or listener who is at fault? There is no total communication until the per­son with whom you are speaking has the same picture in their mind that you have in yours. Communication literally means "to have in common". The phrase "we see eye to eye" translates we share the same mental picture in our mind's eye.

Over 300 years ago, John Locke wrote: "Vague and insignificant forms of speech and abuse of language,... are but covers of ignorance and the hindrance of knowledge." Do you agree - sloppy lan­guage may lead to sloppy thinking? Our language is the resource of our mental processes. If the words that form our thoughts are imprecise, then those thoughts are likely to be imprecise also.

It is logical to conclude that someone who talks and writes brilliantly really is brilliant. Who is most likely to advance and get the promotions in your world? Usually the person most likely to suc­ceed is the one who communicates clearly.

We may well note, as Shakespeare urged in Othello, "Mend your speed a lit­tle, lest it mar your fortunes." Our recent schooling has not provided the best grounding in English usage. Contrary to current misapprehension, language is not a matter of "anything goes, just do your own thing". The communicator is responsible if the message is confused.

Effective interpersonal communica­tion entails avoiding vague and insignifi­cant words that are open to misinterpre­tation. One of these words that is in com­mon use in business and the bureaucracy today is "implement" (possible meanings are do, start, carry out or execute). When a word is susceptible of being misunder­stood it can produce confusion in the mind of the listener.

Sloppy language may lead to sloppy thinking. Cliches, jargon, profanity and slang can litter your speech. Precise lan­guage helps create precise understand­ing. Avoid cliches because you risk bor­ing people. If people know what you are going to say before you say it - that's trite. For example, "it is so quiet you could hear a p_ _ d _ _ _.
If your audience can anticipate what's about to be said - you are boring. Communication problems often arise because we don't care enough to prepare. A lack of adequate words reflects a lack of proper preparation.

There is beauty in brevity. The shortest verse in the Bible is a dramatic demon­stration of the validity of this statement. . . The verse consists of only two words -"Jesus wept"! These two words capture the essence of the moment in a concise and cyrptic declaration. So, a question comes to mind - why say 22 words when 2 will do?

The speakers who are easiest to under­stand are those who express themselves in simple sentences and focus on their point. Clarity in communication helps expedite things. History verifies - a com­municator will have better career prospects than a poor one. The key is proper preparation. Continuous learning is the basis of continuous improvement.

One of the most successful business executives I've ever know was asked, "How have you become super successful so quickly"? My friend answered "Always have one or more self improve­ment programs going"! Reflecting on this person's career - that is exactly what he had done... when his company start­ed selling accounting machines. My friend studied accounting and earned his CPA designation. No, he never practiced accounting, but he sure had a differential advantage when he made a sales call on an accounting machine prospect! He cared enough to professionally prepare himself to do his very best.

A moment for self-assessment: How many self-improvement programs do you currently "have going"? How many have you completed in the past year?

Now may be a good time to invest yourself by starting a concerted effort to improve your interpersonal communica­tion knowledge and skill base.

Remember, the degree of your profes­sional excellence is optional. Here's hop­ing you will exercise your option. So it is in your own best interest - as well as your organization's - to "watch your mouth"!