Monday, October 22 , 2018, 4:26 am | Fog/Mist 61º


John Daly


John Daly: Why Behavior Matters In Even Unexpected Ways

I am very excited. My next book is completed, and I shipped it off to my publisher. Part of the reason that I got involved in working with teenagers to help improve their behavior is because I know what that knowledge has done for me.

This is the introduction in my new book, and I wanted to share it with you on this day of importance to me:

From the time I was old enough to sit in a chair, my family gathered together to eat dinner around the same table. We had to make sure we were washed and clean for dinner promptly at 5:30 every afternoon. If for some reason a member of the family was going to have to be later, and it was not a one-time event, the hour was changed to meet that schedule.

This was a very, very important part of our day. It was the time that we were taught table manners and, more important, how to carry on a conversation with others. This was when we all shared our day with each other. The conversation flowed and was spontaneous, and had always happened this way from the time my siblings and I were very young.

It was a time to get feedback from other members of the family about the issues we faced. It really was like a lesson in critical thinking, as well as how to listen and practicing how to speak with other people.

Talking with food in our mouths and arguing were not allowed. That’s not to say we weren’t allowed to debate. On the contrary, but it had to be thought out and respectful. 

Little did I realize how much this was going to help me in my future. It was a huge boost for me when I started my first job with real consequence. I was able to sit with the head honchos and listen and, yes, comment on what was being said and done.

It was because of doing this that I ended up breaking into the event world. As a designer in training, I was invited to the table when the American Institute of Floral Designers was formed.

Why was a 19-year-old newbie allowed to converse with the big boys? They wanted fresh thinking. And, because those dinner lessons at the table taught me polite debate and listening skills, I was taken seriously by those more experienced.

My table manners were very good as well, and because of that I always had the advantage of looking like I belonged in any given circumstance that involved a meal.

I had also learned the art of conversation and asking the right kind of “how and why” questions. I learned that this was the easiest way to engage people. “Get them to talk about themselves, and they will always think you are very smart” was a mantra I learned from a young age.

I also learned to respect others, which involved politeness, good manners and humility. I learned to be extremely observant and take initiative. Those grew out of the nightly dinners at home.

My first big break came along right after the AIFD formation meeting. The Teleflora convention was being held at the newly constructed Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. (Yes, this was a very long time ago!) I went to all the planning meetings prior to the convention, not because I had to but I took the initiative to learn. The top designers from all over the country converged to construct the opening event in the ballroom under the direction of Teleflora.

Unfortunately, there was a wait before construction could begin, and the people in charge got drunk! When I showed up, no one was there to direct. Not one to stand idly by, I jumped in and started ordering all the big-name designers to begin the installation.

No one questioned me! Two men stood watching me; soon they approached and offered me a drink. I politely declined and put them to work!

The party was beautiful and a great success. In the end, the two men who had approached me were owners of a flower shop chain in Arizona. They offered me a job on the spot to run their new Tempe store. I went from designer in-training to manager! And, I owe it, and more, to those nightly dinners that taught me how to converse and treat others.

I have always learned best from listening to others. I questioned anything I did not understand. Because I wasn’t a “book learner,” I knew that I was not ever going to be able to tout a degree in anything.

It was clear to me if I wanted to be respected and taken seriously I would have to act the part of success. That meant my behavior skills had to be tip-top. Thus began my fascination with North American etiquette, mostly pertaining to the United States, because I wanted to know why I was doing something rather than just doing it because I was told.

I became fascinated with etiquette so much so that I started learning the customs and proper etiquette of other cultures I visited. Little did I realize this would lead me to owning an international company!

It’s amazing how life teaches us what we need to know. I discovered it is the little things that truly matter. In all my years of learning and working with etiquette, I have discovered that 70 percent of people who lose their jobs do so because they are unable to get along in their work environment, while only 30 percent lose a job from lack of knowledge or skill.

This carries over to personal relationships as well. It’s a hard statistic, and the reason I give you my next book and this article.

Behavior matters. It made a world of difference for me. Please take this to heart.

— John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the go-to guide for good manners and job search success. Click to learn more about The Key Class, or to buy the book.  Follow John on Facebook and Twitter @johnjdalyjr. Do you have an etiquette question? ASK John at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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