// you’re reading...

Beating the Odds

Winning Friends and Influencing People

Not long ago I heard of an office where a worker had recently been shown the door. It seems that this person brought an attitude that drove colleagues to distraction.

One of them, as a coping mechanism, began to keep a simple log. It noted the first words out of this person’s mouth every day upon arrival. After a short while, a pattern emerged: the person entered with either a curse, a complaint or a criticism.

No wonder this person’s colleagues were driven to distraction! And if you’ve ever read “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” perhaps you remember what the author, Dale Carnegie, would say about this person. It’s there in the first chapter. Never criticize, complain or condemn. No one wants to hear it. In fact, doing those three things is the surest way to turn off the people around you.

So as a coach, ask yourself this question: What are the first words out of your mouth when you arrive at practice? When someone makes a mistake? When things don’t go the way you wish they would?

Do you help the situation with your words? Or do your players, like the colleagues in the office, take some perverse pleasure in hearing exactly how negative you are going to be?

Coaches must teach and motivate. You can’t do either of those two things if you criticize, complain or condemn. You can give all the feedback you want, as long as it is constructive.

Watch the upcoming NCAA tournament carefully. When you see teams playing free and easy, enjoying the challenges and having fun, it’s  sure sign that they have received  praise — and not the three C’s — from their coach. It’s those teams that will beat the odds, pull the upsets.

Someone once said that it is the coach’s job to give hope. You can do it in practice, in pre-game pep talks, and during timeouts. Not with complaints.

“The tendency to whining and complaining may be taken as the surest sign symptom of little souls and inferior intellects,” said  Lord Jeffrey.

*** *** *** *** ***
Mike Tully speaks to sports, business and educational groups. He also works with coaches, athletes and teams to make their practice time more productive and efficient. He and Gary Pritchard are co-authors of “Ten Things Great Coaches Know.” To see Coach Tully and Coach Pritchard discuss “Seven Ways to Prepare for Adversity,” go here.


One comment for “Winning Friends and Influencing People”

  1. Insightful comment, Mike. But some pro teams, The Washington Capitals in hockey, for example, it could be argued, are better motivated by a critical, goading loudmouth of a coach like Bruce Boudreau, who seems to hector and criticize as a manner of course, rather than taking a more positive and expansive approach. Could it be that the positive-reinforcement strategy is certainly the route of choice among school-aged players or amateurs but among professionals other factors must be considered?

    Posted by Larry O'Connor | March 14, 2011, 4:17 pm

Post a comment