A few evenings ago, I was sitting in a networking meeting listening to an inspiring speaker, Mary Jane Mapes. She was sharing a few tips with us from her new book (You CAN Teach a Pig to Sing: Create Great Relationships…with Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere). Mary Jane is an accomplished speaker and trainer.
She told us 3 of the tips from her book that have helped her transform even some of the most difficult relationships she’s had: Think Exceptional, Push Pause, and Dine on Corn Don’t Smother with Swill–all in keeping with the “pig” theme of her book. A “pig” is a pretty irritating gal (or guy).
Think Exceptional means to think of everyone you deal with as an exceptional person with exceptional talents worth finding out more about. You might recall in my article “If You Go in With an Attitude–They Know!” when I was talking about dealing with that difficult staff member. I told you to wipe the slate of the past clean and approach that person with positive regard and respect. “Think Exceptional” is an extension of that idea. Mary Jane shares that we get what we’re focusing on when we interact with others. When we focus on what we dislike about them, we get more to dislike. On the other hand, when we focus on positive aspects of them, we get more of that, too!
Push Pause is another useful tool. She actually handed out stickers of a pause button that we are to place on our desk or wall to remind us of this powerful strategy. Push Pause means to stop a reaction to something that we dislike or find negative. Then, think about what outcome we really want, instead. Choose to go back and think exceptional about that person or situation and go back to see what positive outcome we can generate instead. To me, this means that we need to stop reacting from our emotional space and auto-pilot buttons and think about what’s actually happening and how we can interact with a situation or person in order to be most effective.
Finally, she shared what she means by Dine on Corn Don’t Smother with Swill. There’s a well-known story which the internet credits as a Cherokee legend about 2 wolves. A grandfather describes 2 wolves that we all have inside–one is a good wolf who lives in harmony with the world around him and the other is a bad wolf who is quick to anger and always fighting. His grandson asks which wolf wins the battle within us. The grandfather replies that the wolf we feed is the one that wins. Mary Jane asks us to consider which wolf we are feeding and what we are eating. So, dine on corn instead of smothering the good wolf with swill.
After listening to her speak, I was again reminded of my favorite phrase: If you do what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always gotten; if you want something different, do something different. Think Exceptional, Push Pause and Dine on Corn!
I challenge you to pick one person currently in your life that just irritates and frustrates you so much that you wish you could simply avoid them. Next, take a few minutes while you’re waiting for that next meeting to start and write down 3 things that you like about them. Get those 3 things clear in your mind and practice them.
Then… when you see that person the next time make a point of complimenting them on one of those 3 things. Watch how your outcomes change!
I have yet to read Mary Jane’s new book. However, I did read a number of pages using Amazon’s preview feature. She has the same style and useful stories in the excerpts as she uses in her presentations! You can find her book “You CAN Teach a Pig to Sing: Create Great Relationships…with Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere” in my AmazonStore here.