Business Digest - April, 2008

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How to Say No    Unforgettable

Fun on the Campaign Trail

Theodore Roosevelt was on the campaign trail when he had occasion to give a speech. A heckler in the crowd interrupted him shouting, "I'm a Democrat!"

Roosevelt replied, "May I ask the gentleman why he is a Democrat?"

"My grandfather was a Democrat, my father was a Democrat, and I am a Democrat," said the heckler.

"My friend," Roosevelt replied, "suppose your grandfather had been a jackass and your father was a jackass. What would you then be?"

The quick-witted heckler shouted, "A Republican!"


Adlai Stevenson was campaigning against Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 when he was approached by a female supporter. "Governor," she said, "every thinking person will be voting for you."

"Madam, that is not enough," Stevenson replied. "I need a majority!"


Joseph Kennedy, John F. Kennedy's father, was prominent in the banking industry. He once sent JFK a telegram during one of his election campaigns. It read, "Don't buy a single vote more than necessary. I'll be damned if I'm going to pay for a landslide."


During a campaign stop in New Hampshire in early 2000, George W. Bush was discussing the recession. "I know how hard it is," he declared, "for you to put food on your family."


In 1846, Abraham Lincoln ran for Congress against an evangelical Methodist named Peter Cartwright. Lincoln attended a religious meeting at which Cartwright was scheduled to speak. Cartwright asked the crowd who wished to go to heaven. Several people stood. He then asked that whoever did not wish to go to hell to rise also. Everyone in the hall stood, with the exception of Lincoln. Cartwright turned to Lincoln and asked, "Mr. Lincoln, where are you going?"

Lincoln replied, "I am going to Congress!"


In 1848, Zachary Taylor was such a spendthrift that he refused to accept a letter with postage due. As a result, he learned several days late that he had been nominated by the Whig party for the nation's presidency.

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How to Say No

It can be hard for a go-getter to find enough time in the day to get everything done. Often, projects for other people pile up, keeping you from taking care of all the little things in your own life. While it is usually satisfying to participate in volunteer work, you may find that you don't have the time right now to commit to any new projects.

The best way to avoid this is to learn to say "No" when you are asked for the umpteenth time to work on that overdue report a colleague forgot, to bake cookies for the entire third grade, or to head the annual rummage sale at your church. It can be hard to say "No," especially if you are dealing with friends or coworkers.

The key is to be truthful, but firm in your response. If you are vague when saying "No," you'll simply run into more problems. People who are seeking your help will not hear you declining. They will simply think you need more persuading. It is crucial to be confident and firm in your response, so that they know you will not change your mind with more pressure.

Read over these well-worded excuses to help you next time you are cornered and pressured to commit to a new project.

"Not at this time, as my calendar is loaded for this month."

"I've had several unexpected things pop up in the past few weeks that I need to take care of first before I take on anything new."

"I've seen you working on similar projects and know that you are actually the best person for the job, not me."

"I don't have strong skills in that area, so I'm certain I wouldn't be of any help to you."

"I have several projects lined up right now. Only when those are finished can I look at adding anything else."

"My time is very divided lately, so adding this on would compound that issue. I'm confident that I would not be able to do my best on this project right now."

"I always hope to offer my best on anything I work on, but with my other duties, I'm not able to offer this to you at this time."

"I'm actively seeking more peace in my life, and this does not allow me to continue with this goal."

"My family is in need of more of my attention right now, so I am putting the brakes on outside projects for a while."

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"Hi, my name is . . ." Do you find it hard to remember anything past that? In any social or business situation, it is very important to be able to recall people's names. But many people say they have more trouble remembering names than any other type of information.

Why do we forget someone's name? For many people, it is as simple as telling ourselves we can't remember names well. Once we believe it, it becomes harder to get past this "mental block." For others, it is not a pertinent enough fact to store away in the long-term memory. For example, many of us would not consider it very pressing to make an effort to remember the name of the store clerk we just encountered, or the telemarketer who just phoned us. We can't remember everything we encounter. We often have to pick and choose which information to store--and people's names often get left behind.

So what do you do when it truly is important? There are several ways to improve your chances of remembering someone's name. First, tell yourself that you can remember names if you try. Starting off with a positive attitude will go a long way towards helping you to remember.

Second, pay attention. When you are introduced to someone, repeat his or her name and say it several times to yourself. Be sure that you have heard the name clearly. If not, ask for the name again. If, after a few minutes, you find that you have forgotten already, talk to the person and ask for his or her name again. Use the name often in conversation, not only with the person, but also with others.

Third, use techniques to help you remember. It never hurts to write down someone's name. Asking for the spelling of a name helps to keep that name in your memory because you are picturing it in your mind. Ask for a business card if you are in a professional situation. If you can't write down the name, try to associate it with something else in your mind. It can be a rhyming word, a physical characteristic, or a silly fact or word. For example, when you meet someone named Ted who has red hair, you can remember, "Ted the Red." To remember the name of Trish, the owner of a housewares store, you might think of "Trish the Dish." To remember the name Stan Salazar, try to pick him standing at a bazaar ("Stand Bazaar" leads to "Stan Bazaar" which leads to "Stan Salazar"). Meeting a funny guy named Bill might lead you to "Silly Billy."

This technique might be hard at first. After all, it seems as if you have to remember even more information than just a name. But these associative techniques, with practice, are the best way to remember anyone's name.

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