Dear Crabby, How Do I Win Friends and Influence People?

Dear Crabby,

My boss wants me to change the way I answer the phone in order to try to sound more friendly. He has even mentioned sending me out to get training on becoming kinder and more appealing to the customers.  Should I be offended or does this really matter to people?

Sincerely, Cindy Snippee

Dear Ms. Snippee,

I am shocked that you would even think that I have had conversations like that with my bosses in the past!  Well, I will say that when I was a young whipper-snapper, I was not as calm and socially couth as you see me today. I was pretty certain that I was God’s gift to mankind and that I had to let people know when they were wrong or at least when I was right. This lead to more than one run-in with a colleague and even with customers from time to time. So, one boss in particular, suggested (by that I mean demanded) that I go to this Dale Carnegie conference in downtown Detroit. Ol’ Dale wrote his famous book, How To Win Friends and Influence People, back in 1936 – no, I was there with him back then!  But when I went, Dale was there to deliver the material himself. The book starts out with the “Fundamentals of Handling People,” and he discusses how we are not to criticize, condemn, or complain with other people. He just about lost me there. I wouldn’t have had much more to talk about without those three ingredients!  Then, he moves on to Part Two where he discusses “Six Ways To Make People Like You.” Here, he talks about being interested in others, smiling, and remembering their name. I thought, “Why in the world would I want to remember this idiot’s name? He irritates me to no end!”  However, the next two parts closed the whole concept and made me a believer. Part Three was “Win People to Your Way of Thinking.” I learned how to avoid an argument, get them to say “yes,” and how to throw down a challenge!  These were tools that I could use!  And the final part was called, “Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment.” This was where I got to tell people when they were wrong, just phrasing it in ways that would help them to not get offended. Boy, did this stuff work, too.  I was able to work another 25 years at this company simply by learning these traits.  Now, without the confines of the work environment around me, I can just tell people what I think and care less if I win them over as friends. So, as far as your situation, I would suggest you make the boss happy. If he thinks your not nice, become nice – after all, you’ve got to eat, right?  Good luck, and let me know how it goes!

Sincerely, Dear Crabby

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Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Read regularly by thousands and loved by some, Dear Crabby answers questions weekly to life's challenges. Send him a note at

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