Interpersonal communication: We tend to take it for granted, but it’s like the oil that lubricates the gears of a giant machine. Without it, everything grinds to a halt. But with it, everything runs smoothly and efficiently.
In every organization, every project and task involves the skill of working productively and effectively with other people. To ensure this takes place at The C.A. Lawton Co., the company has offered Dale Carnegie training to any employee who wants to take the 8-week course for over 10 years.
The Dale Carnegie course focuses on how people interact with each other to build relationships and achieve the results they need to be successful in the workplace. It also trains students on how to set and reach personal development goals. In addition, it helps them develop the professional skills they need to lead with integrity.
We recently chatted with Carley Becker, who is a recent graduate of the course, to get a “behind the scenes” look at what it involves.
Hello, Carley! Can you briefly explain what your position is and what you do for The C.A. Lawton Co.?
Carley: I am the human resources (HR) Generalist at Lawton. The majority of my days are made up of recruiting. This includes posting job advertisements, phone screenings, interviewing, scheduling interview teams to meet with candidates, creating job offers and coordinating pre-employment exams.
I am also the point of contact for an employee on their first day (new hire paperwork, tour, handbook review, etc.). In addition, I act a backup to the HR Manager for all other HR-related items.
How long have you worked for Lawton?
Carley: Three years.
What made you decide to take the Dale Carnegie course?
Carley: I choose to participate in it because so many people in the organization talk about it, I just had to see what it was all about, because my boss recommended that I complete the training, because we’re working together to find out “what I want to be when I grow up.” We both saw this as a great opportunity to continue my development as a young professional.
What were your expectations going into it, and how did the actual experience differ from that?
Carley: I had very few expectations going into it because my coworkers kept telling me how hard it was to get in front of people and do different activities. I had no clue what they were talking about. I figured we’d listen to a presenter, take some notes and do some presenting, which was far from what happened.
Each class we had to talk to a partner or small group about what happened since the last class. We also talked about the ways in which we used the concept we learned in the previous lesson to improve our working relationships and interactions with our coworkers.
Concepts varied from building trust, demonstrating leadership to giving honest sincere appreciation. After we practiced, we had to give the same talk to the entire group. Other days we were given a topic with only a few minutes to prepare a 3 to 5 minute talk to describe an event to the other participants. One class we even had to act out an advertisement for a floor cleaning solution. This included using movement and exaggeration to sell our fictional product to the entire group.
What was the most memorable part of the training for you?
Carley: It was when I finally was comfortable speaking in front of our group of 15 participants. It was a relief to feel confident and proud of my progress in front of a group.
It sounds like the instructors personalize the training around your needs and personal growth opportunities. What did that look like for you?
Carley: Our instructor made sure to remind me to speak up and to slow down if I was talking too fast. When I was nervous, I spoke softly and wasn’t clear in what I was trying to tell the group. The instructor would stand in the back and give a thumbs up if things were going well or would ask a question to help me to clarify what I was trying to tell the group. These pieces of feedback allowed me to improve the focus in my presentations over the 8 weeks.
In what ways did this course push you out of your comfort zone and help you to grow, personally and professionally?
Carley: Before the Dale Carnegie course, I was very serious and was afraid to fail. I got nervous and stumbled over my words and thoughts. After it, I was able to fully realize that if I do my best and work hard, I will be successful. The course taught me how to build relationships with coworkers and customers that I may not interact with every day and how to build their trust. Both personally and professionally, I have become more confident in handling sensitive conversations and more confident in my role at Lawton.
Some of the assignments are timed. Do you learn how to express yourself briefly and with greater impact?
Carley: Yes, I learned how to get to the point. There were assignments that taught us how to speak clearly and how to get to the point in a short amount of time. There wasn’t an option to add more time. When the instructor said “time,” that was it – your turn was over. Just like in meetings and conversations, people want you to get the point and give them the necessary details in order to answer your question or get the project done.
How has this course changed the way in which you look at work relationships?
Carley: It made me more aware of the things I was saying and the body language I was using when interacting with my coworkers. It also reminded me that even though we all have work to do, sometimes it can change someone’s day and show them you care by just saying, “Hey, how’s your day going?”, rather than getting straight down to the question or task you need help with. I learned to communicate with a focus and how to be more persuasive with the teams I work on.
How are you using what you learned in your job?
Carley: I use what I learned to create stronger and better working relationships. I have also learned how to get people to help out when I need it or be cooperative when I’m given an extra task in a busy day. We are all here for one reason and we all are working towards one goal – to help Lawton be successful.
Each week we were assigned tasks or given a concept to apply during an interaction with a coworker or situation at work. This helped us to take what we were learning in class, apply it in the workplace and report on what happened to the group. Every so often, I look back through my workbook to remind myself of all the concepts we discussed in order to handle things as Dale Carnegie would.
How does it feel, knowing that many of your coworkers at Lawton have also taken the Dale Carnegie training?
Carley: It feels comforting to know so many people have participated in this program. Especially when I started the program many of my coworkers were interested in talking about what I was working on and gave advice on how they handled the talk. Since many of us have had this training, it helps us to communicate with each other and to remember to treat each other with respect at all times. You never know what kind of day the person you are interacting with has had. Kindness and cooperation are key to being successful in the workplace.