If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive

Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defense and usually makes him strive to justify himself… It wound a person’ precious pride.

This is a summary/review of chapter 1 of “How to make friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie. It will not necessarily follow the structure of the chapter and additional content may be added in order to complete the explanations.

How many times have we condemned someone beforehand, without even knowing half of the story behind their actions? Instead, how many have we stopped for a moment and tried to understand the impulses that led they to do it? In this chapter,  Carnegie encourages the reader to do the last thing and gives a handful of reasons supporting why this behavior will make us obtain better results in a short and long term, build more confident and respectful relationships, and last but definitely not least, be a lot happier in our daily interactions.

In order to fully understand the principles in which this lesson is based, the author supports his theories on real-life examples, extracted either from the research of relevant people throughout History or his own experience.

Principle 1

Firstly, he points out that 99 out of 100 of the most sanguinary, ruthless criminals over the last 150 years, had not declared themselves guilty at all. Rather, they’ve always had a variety of justifications that make them believe they were subject of the worst of the injustices. This leads us to the first lesson of the chapter:

Everyone, even wrongdoers, act in each moment thinking they take the best decision possible at that moment.

If we bear this in mind, we are better prepared to understand the subjective truth underlying people’s actions, instead of simply condemning or censoring them.

Principle 2

The second key of this piece is related to how the human nature is. We are reward-driven creatures, and due to that, we seek those activities, people or situations that make us feel valued and acknowledged. This works exactly the same in the opposite direction: We try to avoid as much as possible the feeling of uselessness and irrelevance.

As much as we thirst for approval, we dread condemnation.

The application of this simple principle in our daily communications can make a huge change in how we impact in the emotions of the people around us and, in consequence, in how we are perceived by the people surrounding us.

How can you apply it in your life?

Since each life is different, the advice given here may need slight modifications to fit in yours. However, I’ll attempt to cover the most general cases.

Let’s start with an easy statement: Everyone expects something from someone. And usually, this is bidirectional. The father expects some things from the son, as well as the son does from the father. The same with employers and employees. I’m not talking only about performance, numbers, or benefits. As I mentioned before, we are emotional creatures, so we inherently need some emotional feedback in order to feel fulfilled.

But what happens when something we care a lot goes wrong? Our first reaction tends to be emotional, and this is often the wrong reaction since it is like being controlled by someone else. A badly chosen word at this point may cause long term resentments that can potentially last forever. At this point, the best thing we can do is try to analyze the situation and extract knowledge to perform better the next time. Carnegie suggests that before trying to change someone, we should begin with ourselves:  “it is much more profitable… and a lot less dangerous”.

“Don’t complain about the snow on your neighbor’s roof,” said Confucius, “When you own doorstep is unclean.”

Final thoughts

I honestly think this is a valuable lesson that can be applied in uncountable aspects in my life: from group projects at the university to closest relationships (family and friends). I believe it is worth to stop and think for a moment when the situation becomes tense. I think that if we want to improve our human relationships we need to start changing and improving ourselves, and avoid following the path that most people take if there’s a better one either for us as an individual or for society as a whole.

 Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain – and most fools do.

But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.

What do you think? Is there something you don’t agree about this topic or want to share some of your experiences? Feel free of leaving your thoughts in the comment box. I will be glad of reading them all! 



The hardest problem

As an engineer, I spend the most of my time trying to find inventive solutions of tough and tricky problems. So much so that I have got into the habit of analyzing every circumstance concerning me with some techniques that are incredibly useful when it comes to approach an academic problem.

Computer Science stands over the basis of formalizing Human’s ideas. Once you have transformed your problem in a set of variables –the elements you think your problem depends of– and constraints over these variables –how these elements are related to each other, and what properties they must satisfy-, one can start discussing about its nature and the ways to solve it. When one have been dealing with these sort of problems over the years, innately acquire a third eye, a natural intuition that makes you shrewd identifying the key aspects of them.

In certain areas of daily life, such as planning or deciding what is the best way to perform one action or a sequence of them, having this hability might save you a great deal of effort. The class of matters that are approachable from this perspective tend to share a common goal: maximize benefits while minimizing cost, used resources or effort. This structure permits, given two different potential solutions, decide whether the first one is better than the other one or viceversa, always in terms of optimality.

Whereas the previously mentioned scheme targets the questions How do I… ? ,  It is possible to… ?, there are other kind of enquiries that gets too hard to compute, or decide. The dificulty arises when the decision made involves many agents, or has unpredictable implications, and it is not always possible to obtain a verifiable best option. And that without including the cases in which it is impossible taking into account all the parts that, to a greater or lesser extent, would be affected.

Questions of the form Should I… ? are a good example. The more deeper the question, the harder is the decision. It is incredible how a problem with that reduced set of possible solutions gets as difficult. There is not an optimal solution to this. We cannot even, given an answer, check whether it is correct or not.

This indeterminism forces us to guess. And guessing is not a reliable source of knowledge, like it is of inaccuracy. We are condemned to be ignorants. Ignorants because there are problems we are not capable to solve. You may think that is not as grave, since the solution does not even exist, but it means loosing the game before playing it, and it is terribly disheartening.

On the other hand, if everything was deterministic, life would certainly diminish its excitement. The complexity of everything we can think of is, in a certain way, what makes it interesting to us. We have the –kind of– luck of being curious about the universe that embraces everything we know and we do not, and it is that curiosity that encourage us as individuals as well as as spices to grow up and be better day after day. Our imperfection makes us overambitious in a measure we cannot be aware of. But this let us dream, let us believe.

The truth about being a hero

Many times we’re not aware about how fortunate we are by having beside us someone that always remains whatever happens. However, they still do their best without a break, 365 days a year. That’s what I call a hero.

El dia del padre 2006

Mine is even better than I could desire, and that’s why I want to thank him. For being always a good father, and for providing me the most important things in life: a great childhood plenty of happy moments, a warm familiar home, and everyone of the valuable principles that make me. Not only he has given me life, but also all the ingredients for having a satisfactory one.

Even today he’s teaching me how to be a IMG-20150804-WA0018complete person, despite he doesn’t realize it. And I’m sure I will learn new things from him until the day he will leave. If I would have to enumerate his qualities I wouldn’t be able to finish. He’s the most well-balanced person I’ve ever known, he’s thoughful, familiar and selfless.

I have lots of huge memories with him, from the day he teach me riding a bike, to the day-trips we had together last holidays, going through all the summers in Canet de Mar or at swimming pool, the afternoons playing football, and even the day he introduced me in informathics (drawing shapes in Microsoft Word) when I was six or seven.

He works hard every day to satisfy my needs and thanks to that I can put my whole effort in study. I could say he’s my best investor, and I won’t let him down.

He’s my reference in virtually everything. I wish I will be able to be at his level someday.  If you’re reading this, I love you dad! I’m so glad of being your son. Happy father’s day, because you deserve it, not only for being an outstanding father, but also for being an exceptional grandad.

Angels outside heaven

Have you ever felt the sensation of being in harmony with someone? It may be a bit difficult to identify, but once you do, you won’t want to let it go.

I’m talking about all those people who make your life easier, nicer and richer. Not only that, but they encourage you to act the same way and be, in short, a better human being. It doesn’t take long to recognize the improvement that your life suffers by being surrounded by the correct people. And on top of that, the simple fact of behave like this, allows you to synchronize with others who release the same kind of energy.

I feel so grateful for having the luck of have known so wonderful life mates without whom nothing would be the same. People whose paths crossed over mine and it meant the beginning of a mutual-constructive relationship. And this type of relationships are the ones that make you growing up both personally as spiritually.

Eventually, soulmates meet,

for they have the same

hiding place. – Robert Brault

Yes, I’m the class of person who believes in stuff like that. That’s because when I’m beside someone who I’ve connected with, I can feel more than good vibes, I can sense how my soul is being lighted, in a peaceful and quiet sensation. I’m not saying my deepest expression is available to everybody, but luckily I’m able to tune in with similar souls. I would rather that than some social skills that perhaps I don’t have so developed –although theese ones are far more useful in daily living-.

I believe we’re in society because we must learn from our neighbors, and let our fellows learn from us. It sometimes involves some effort, but as everything that requires it, it’s usually followed by a valuable life-long reward. And at this point we are entering into the field of empathysomething interesting enough for, possibly, another post– .

Do you agree with me? Do you think is possible to maintain a so intense link with somebody? Do you want to share your personal experience? Please, feel free to do it, and leave a piece of yourself in the comments box down below.