Sunday, May 6, 2012

#18: Be sympathetic with the other person's ideas and desires.

For the first thirty years of my life, "sympathy" was a word that I mostly associated with condolence cards.  That is, until I "met" Dale Carnegie.  I now know that sympathy is something we should offer to people on a daily basis - not just in the most dire of circumstances.  This week I saw two distinct instances of sympathy in my world:
  • The first form of sympathy is one that I tried to offer at work this week.  On Thursday, our firm completed its upward evaluation process in which employees have the opportunity to evaluate management.  In those instances where I had constructive feedback for people, I made sure to follow its name and make the suggestions "constructive."  I put myself in the other's shoes.  For example, I know that I appreciate examples when someone offers me feedback so I made sure to include specific instances to help the evaluatees understand my thoughts.  I tried to be sympathetic to their ideas - what would best allow them the opportunity to use my feedback?
  • The second form of sympathy I saw this week was by observing others.  I had the opportunity to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting with my dad.  In other words, I enjoyed the friendly banter of Warren and Charlie for a few hours on Saturday!  My dad told me as we walked in that this meeting is often called the "Woodstock" of shareholder meetings.  I was amazed at how candid these richer-than-rich men were with the people in the room.  They answered question after question from everyday people such as myself.  And they do this every year.  I see no better way to be "sympathetic" to others' ideas and desires than to know firsthand what those ideas and desires are for people.  Bravo, Warren Buffet.  You are a true Dale Carnegie graduate (and for the record, Warren did mention his Dale Carnegie certificate in the annual video this year.)!
When was the last time we were truly sympathetic toward someone in a way that didn't involve Hallmark?  Sympathy is more than just an emotion for greeting cards. It's something we should take to heart every day.

The Dale Carnegie certificate that hangs on the wall in Warren Buffet's office!

1 comment:

  1. Sympathetic to be sure, but Warren is also humble - whether you agree or disagree with his political views. The jury is still out on Charlie though. Do you remember Warren asking the audience, "has Charlie failed to insult anyone?" Nonetheless, Principle #18 is a good one to practice for sure. As long as you're sincere, standing in the shoes of others is a good practice indeed. Thanks for going to the meeting with me. I enjoyed our one-on-one time.