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What I'm Trying to Improve in Myself

By Marty Nemko

I have a to-do list on my computer. Before I list my day's tasks, I have a page of my self-improvement goals. Perhaps you might find it useful to see them. This list is unedited--it's precisely as it appears on my to-do list:

Reflect back what a person says.

Answer a question with a question.

Say things so people can hear them.

Curious not convince--be curious rather than always trying to convince.

Dominating makes you feel smart but it usually ruins chances of getting what you want. It makes them feel less than. Instead, be smart--and respectful:

Ask good questions until they tire of talking about themselves, don't interrupt. Then make your case.

Richard Carlson, in Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, recommends that you let yourself be bored, lower your tolerance of stress, once a week write a heartfelt letter, read something with a completely different point of view.

Leigh Steinberg and Jo-Ellan Dimitrius says "The worst thing you can possibly do is interrupt. Indeed, pause before responding. Paraphrase.

People like you best as a facilitator. (You like it too when people play facilitator for you.)

If you focus on your differences, you'll get angry. Focus on commonalities; you'll feel compassion.

Make those you're soliciting feel like they need to dig out stuff about you to get what they want. That builds their investment in you.

You succeed DESPITE your speed, not because of it.

Before getting angry see if there's a different explanation.

Remember the words: agree, appreciate, respect.

Ask, "Anything else?"


Humor breaks tension.

Look for solutions not causes

Fast talkers are not seen as credible. They're also hard to understand. Slow down!

Make people feel good about themselves.

Appreciate tiny progress. Reassure clients that it's not do or die.

No cursing!

The See-Saw Principle: around every behavior change, there is an amount of energy. The goal is to increase the amount of energy and maximize the proportion of it that comes from the person whose behavior is to change. That's why Rogerianism is so powerful. Be sparing with advice, even if asked for.

Bill Marriott says that the 4 most important words are: What do you think?

Good things in my life: some things about marriage, income/assets, my home, I work at home, roses.

Remember: People like your upbeat, playful but not fast self.

No bragging, subtle or otherwise. You don't know how to be subtle.

If a man is brusque in his manner, others will not cooperate. If he is agitated in his words, they will awaken no echo in others. If he asks for something without having first established a proper relationship, it will not be given to him.

Listen to your voice. Remember, when you have that low, slow, deep voice, people say "Great voice."

People want to be entertained more than educated.

Before saying something controversial, ask "How can I get them to buy in?"

Do what I really do well: writing letters, answering questions on the fly--esp. from reporters. Write well-organized how-tos, radio interviewing

Remember: Clients need support.

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