Preface
Invading guest made party better
Compliments at work & at home
Passed along praise
"12 ways" and "6 ways" in action
An old story in new view
Out of gas, again ...


Eve's Essays

Eve's Essays II (a new course at UAF)


Human Relations Course

Several English language classes I've taken at UAF inspired me to start taking more complicated courses. Every Sunday I look for UAF Applied Business Department instructors Melissa Brown and Charlie Dexter's column in the newspaper.

When I got a chance, I took Charlie Dexter's Human Relations course.

In contrast with English language courses, where third of the class were people speaking English as second language, here in Human Relations class I was the only foreigner. It was enjoyable process but the course was little bit hard for me because of my English. I had to pay attention to each word said in the class to keep up with my classmates.

Now, I can admit my "A" is earned by my hard work. I feel proud and satisfied with the high grade.

Starting the course I knew that I came from a country with different culture, people's attitude towards each other and different communication styles. I wanted to learn how to converse successfully in my new country.

Required reading included books written by Dale Carnegie who was quiet popular author in Russia back in 80-90's. I read them long time ago in Russian and then tried to use some of his advice, but not all of the methods worked perfectly in the country where people are not used to be treated with care about their ego and self-esteem.

During study of the subject I discovered that despite our cultural and human relation differences I already knew many of the tricks and used them sometimes without knowing that they are psychological tricks.

As I mentioned above, the course required a lot of reading, listening, taking notes, watching movies, and then finding ways to improve oneself making an easy person to communicate with. I had to learn how to make people like me, how to pursue them to think my way, how to deal with difficult people, and etc.

One of our instructor's tools was a message board where students had to post their short essays, reports, and comments completing syllabus's requirements. I didn't want mine to be erased from the Net and saved them before the course was over. Hopefully, now these short essays they could be some help to other students of Human Relation course who look for ideas for their assignments.

These short essays are snapshots of life in Russia in 90's. One of them gives a glimpse into my American-Russian family. Which is not much different than an average American family if one will take a closer look.

Thank you for your taking time to read them. ^top of the page^


Nothing gives so much direction to a person's life as a sound set of principles."
                                                                                    Ralph Waldo Emerson


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Syllabus: Random act of Kindness

Commit at least one random act of kindness, or senseless act of beauty. Add a thread to this discussion board letting the class know what you did, and what your subject's reaction was...

Invading guest made party better

All Russians say, "An uninvited guest is worse than Tatars," comparing one to Ghingis Khan's invasion of Russia in 13th century.

Dressing up for a party, I called to my Russian friend who is new to Fairbanks and the US. During the conversation I discovered that she is upset and lonely, even angry, because her husband went to help his friend for all day and left her alone. Suddenly, I got an idea and said, "We are coming in five minutes, be ready for a party." She tried to refuse the invitation knowing well the above Russian saying. I responded that I will get an invitation for her from the host of the party in a few seconds. Four hours later, when we were leaving the party I was thanked by guests and the host of the party for introducing a new friend and a nice person to them. I was thanked by my friend's husband for taking care of her. And my friend was grateful for making her day brighter by that sudden invitation, and introducing her to the more casual Alaskan attitude. ^top of the page^


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Syllabus: 5 Compliments

The unsuspecting world is your target. In that great scientific laboratory pay 5 sincere compliments by Wednesday, October 18th. Add a thread to this discussion forum to let the rest of the class know what happened!

Compliments at work & at home

1. I asked a lady to give me the name and address of her hairdresser. She was very pleased to hear that I recognize her everywhere in downtown because of her always perfect hairstyle. The older lady shared with me that she worked with the stylist for many years so it is her pleasure to give the stylist's name and address to me.

2. In the end of a long conversation with a coworker, to whom I was mostly listening, I thanked her for the information she shared with me. I said, "Your deep and thoughtful observation of life helped me understand my problems. You are a wonderful mother. I wish to be like you."

3. Coming from my lunch break, which I spent at International Friendship Day in Pioneer park, I brought an extra piece of Russian honey cake and gave it to my colleague. I said, "I enjoy listening your stories and I am amazed by your knowledge of Russian history, culture, and politics. May I thank you with this little piece of Russia?"

4. I sincerely thanked the personal manager who chose me for a temporary job. I said, "I'm very thankful for choosing me for the job and the pleasure I received working with the nice people in your department."

5. I hugged and kissed my 12 years old son telling how special and lovely he is after he washed the dishes.

Many thanks for a fun assignment. ^top of the page^


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Syllabus: Praise or Criticism

Use the 7 Golden Rules of Praise, or the 7 Golden Rules of Criticism next time you have the opportunity. Add a thread to tell the class what happened. Feel free to comment on others' threads!

Passed along praise

A woman riding the city bus asked me which country I came from. When I said that I am Russian, she said that she has a Russian coworker who composes beautiful bouquets and is such a wonderful person. We soon discovered we were talking about my friend Nadya. I told a story about how Nadya's magic hands, with a few quick movements over my dying bouquet, brought the flowers back to life. We discussed how her store's reputation is made by the people working there. If a store's personnel are friendly and helpful, the store will have more customers. I added, when employees of the store are known for their volunteering efforts for the community it is beneficial for their employer too. The woman did not know that Nadya was a member of the winning women's ice carving team during our Ice Alaska Championships, or that Nadya and her husband during their weekends teach children how to carve ice. Getting off the bus, the woman said she was glad to know another good side about her coworker and wanted to share it with her colleagues. ^top of the page^


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Syllabus: Make People Like You!

Use one or more of the six ways to make people like you, or the 12 ways to win people to your way of thinking. Add a thread discussion what happened.

"12 ways" and "6 ways" in action

I have a website (Russia-Alaska). It is my family website. I get many contacts in English and Russian. Natalia, a mother of 3 year old boy with Down Syndrome, contacted me a year ago. She could not find positive ideas about improving a Down Syndrome child's development. Natalia hoped to find some information in the US and wanted to contact American families with Down Syndrome children.

Our correspondence became friendly and regular. I kept all Natalia's letters seeing in them an interesting story with a lot of useful tips for others with Down Syndrome children. I wrote to Natalia that her letters should be published. I found an American website and translated, for Natalia, stories by American mothers of children with Down Syndrome. No similar page for Russian parents existed at that time.

I was attracted to Natalia's intelligent, positive attitude. I was convinced that her enthusiasm could inspire and help many Russians. People needed her experience. Her son is attending a preschool for normal children. Russia prohibits disabled kids in Russia from attending schools for normal children. Because of her success the preschool's doctor did not notice her boy's health problem and wrote in his health chart, "child's development is normal for this age group."

I suggested she write about her son on a website. Natalia did not know HTML language, so I offered to be her code writer. She did not believe in her ability to be a leader. I promised Natalia that in a few months after her dairy will be published people will seek her out and share their experience. She laughed at me that time. But I was persistent.

Using my self-taught knowledge of HTML I created a new website http://downsyndrome.narod.ru. I wrote her and said, "It is yours now." With hesitation Natalia allowed me put online her dairy for her boy's first year--2001. She received letters requesting that she continue the story. Then we pit online two more years, 2002 and 2003.

Now Natalia is busy responding to letters, meeting with parents and working with the Down Syndrome community that grows around her and her website. Her website is transforming into a communication center for families with children with Down Syndrome in Russia. She has received letters from the US, Canada, Italy, Israel, Lithuania in addition to numerous Russian cities. I had to add many new pages for families who share how they overcome complications from Down Syndrome.

Natalia now celebrates a victory, she broke her fear to admit in public that her child has Down Syndrome. Many others follow her. One mother, Svetlana, wrote to us that she was embarrassed, depressed and cried daily over her Down Syndrome newborn baby until she found the website. Now Svetlana's Sunlight is smiling beautifully from his Mom's own page on Natalia's website. A few days ago Svetlana proudly shared with her Down Syndrome community her 9 months old boy's evaluation, "child's development is normal for this age group." (!!!)

Inspired by Natalia's dairy, families overcome their pessimism and work hard to make amazing changes in their Down Syndrome children. "My child has a better future now," write parents to us.

I see in my imagination a book with Natalia as an author. It will take time to help Natalia realize such a vision. I believe people need Natalia and her inspiration. I helped Natalia and many people find positive choices for action through simple Internet connection.

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My classmate Michaela added comment:

It is hard not to cry at what a wonderful person you are and how you are effecting the lives of others. As a teacher you are doing the children (Michaela read in my previous essay that I went to a pedagogical institute, but she missed the place stating that I abandoned the idea to become a teacher) such a GREAT thing for their future. They will now have a chance at a future that would not have been possible. Thank you. And bless you.

The light that is, truly does shine through you. As a practicing Catholic who celebrates today, the Feast of All Saints, it is nice to find that there are some here amongst us.

Michaela

Thank you, Michaela, for your phrase. I have your words to equate with.
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Syllabus: Assertiveness

Using the assertiveness skills discussed in class:
Be Honest.
Be Honest about what's relevant.
Determine what is negotiable, and what is not.
Stick to your bottom line.
Negotiate as equals.
If person is unreasonable, imagine something awful has happened to them and treat them so.
Then add a link to tell the class what happened, the assertive skills you employed, and the result.

An old story in new view

The example of my "assertiveness" that most clearly comes to my mind is from six years ago, when I did not speak any English, and, of course, did not know the word "assertiveness."

I worked as a supply agent in auxiliary foundry shop in one of the biggest in Europe metallurgical pipe plants. The plant had just been purchased by the now scandalous "YUKOS Oil Company" and actually was in theory private, but still retained its Soviet bureaucratic organization structure.

In order to get parts for equipment I had to go to the main Material Procurement and Supply Department. I had to stand in line among agents from other workshops of the plant with my types requisition. The bureaucratic process required me to solicit signatures from several engineers in different sections of the department before I could command delivery of the needed supplies from the warehouse. The Supply Department's engineer was a difficult person, whose work was stressful and hard. She was required to keep storage full of supplies and could refuse any request. I had to get what my workshop needed. She was following the written weekly, monthly, and yearly plans of what, when and in which quantity each workshop will need. But our workshop's old smelting cooper furnace mechanism failed at the very moment when our workshop had a huge production order, without asking our written plans. Ugh! If we failed to complete the order on time, workers' salaries were in danger. I went to the main Supply Department under orders to come back with the needed parts knowing they were not listed in the written plan for the month.

I came to the engineer as always smiling and looking at everyone in the Department like I was very happy just to see them and ask how they are doing. After I chatted for awhile with engineer who was in charge of parts for melting workshops, (Be Honest) I said that we are in big trouble and only she can help prevent as many as two hundred people not being sent to non-paid leave because of broken down workshop's furnace. I was honest. The engineer explained me that she has only one purchased under a plan for another workshop. She explained how it was difficult to get funding for unplanned purchases like the one I was requesting. She did not want to face her angry boss. I asked her how is her family and son doing and then she asked about my little troublemaker (son). In the following conversation I backtracked and turned her answer to the situation in our workshop where workers' wellness depended at that moment on her.

Be Honest about what's relevant. I agreed with her in the seriousness of situation, recognizing how she would have a hard time if the other furnace in the bigger and more important workshop will need immediate repair. I pointed out that this situation was imaginative but my workshop's problem was in present time. I also explained that if we will not be able to complete melting cooper and molding parts for the order there will be big consequences for many people including her.

Determine what is negotiable, and what is not. I asked her if there any way how I can help her with her boss and even offered to return the part if she will need it after our workshop will finish important order on time and will work on different furnaces.

Stick to your bottom line. I was polite, understanding, sympathizing but also persistent repeating my request and applying to her noble motives. She dug in her heels.

Negotiate as equals. I understood her difficulties with supply because I was in the same shoe just a smaller size. I gave her all facts about the importance of our workshop's order and the chain reaction of consequences from its failure for the entire pipe plant. Equipped with these facts the engineer got permission from her Department's head and the next day our workshop started melting cooper. All witnesses then laughed and told me that I had won over the most difficult person in the Department. I did not win her, I just brought up facts in a manner that allowed her to make the needed decision.

If person is unreasonable, imagine something awful has happened to them and treat them so. I knew that the woman has problems at home and sincerely tried to not be too hard on her. I spent two hours in her office. There were moments when she hated me and shouted and screamed ready to throw me away but in the end we became good friends. I respected and understood her and she paid the same respect back to me--a young girl and tiny clerk in the huge bureaucratic machine of big pipe plant. We eventually became friends. ^top of the page^


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Syllabus: Pacing, Backtracking, Clarifying

Use these skill in your next difficult situation. Add a thread and discuss what happened.

Out of gas, again ...

I was waiting for a situation when I will be able to use the useful tips from my last class. I was preparing for a winning conversation with my the most difficult communicator--my twelve-years-old son. This person is able to make me furious in five seconds with only one word or turn of his head. In our conversations he is a silent sniper, a saboteur, a "no" person, a "thinks-he-knows-it-all" who punches all my buttons turning me in respond into a tank, a grenade. I should admit that this smart and energetic youngster needs more praising and less criticizing; he may also make me happy with only quick smile or glance. I was waiting when I will use new techniques on my son but the assignment is due, so here is what happened.

Saturday morning... Early Saturday morning... My son and husband just left to pick up son's friend for ski racing at Birch Hill and then for "boys'-day-out" in downtown leaving me alone with my homework and computer. I enjoyed a quiet morning sitting in pajamas in front of my lovely computer ...

Phone rang. My husband: "I am on Badger not far from Gas station. I am out of gas, please bring me a canister which is sitting under tree." OK, it is not for the first time when I have to jump into warm coat and boots in pajamas, drive a cold car to somewhere to rescue my forgetful husband. It is OK when tire is blown up and he does not have a jack in his car but when they are late for the ski racing and he gets stuck in the middle of somewhere because in dozen's time he did not check his gas tank for gas! O, dear! I was angry in the beginning. But I became more angry when I could not find canisters under any of dozens trees in our yard, then the cold car did not want to run. I did not find husband's car at Badger gas towards North Pole because it was actually on in the other direction towards Fairbanks. Time went by, they were later and later, and I was driving like crazy in my pajamas looking for those whom I must rescue. If you have been in a situation like that, you can imagine the rage boiling over.

And here he is--my happily smiling hero. I jumped out of the car angry as ten demons and started: "You know, it is not funny!!!" "It is irresponsible!!!" I held my unzipped coat with both hands at my chest and blurted my accusations. In seconds, my husband took the same with mine pose--his hands on his chest and looking into my eyes. "Yes, it is not funny." "Yes, it is irresponsible." He was pouring cool water into my boiling emotions but I could not stop, "You always forget to check your vehicle!" "Yes, I always forget…" He was pacing and backtracking me, I knew he used the methods I told him about after my Monday class. I felt that I was a guinea-pig but could not resist that the method was working.

When I was able to listen, husband started asking me clarifying questions. "Hmm. The canister was not under a tree?" "Did not I mention River View?" "Did I just say 'Badger' and 'Gas'?"

Conflict was over. I laughed at my own anger and words. We were able to laugh at the situation. Kids were late for ski racing but they found something to do for the day letting me work in a quiet home. In human relations my husband is an "A" specialist. I am lucky that I have the example to learn by every day. And actually the lesson is more effective because I was the subject of experiment. ^top of the page^


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Syllabus: Pacing, Backtracking, Clarifying

Use these skill in your next difficult situation. Add a thread and discuss what happened.

Out of gas, again ...

I was waiting for a situation when I will be able to use the useful tips from my last class. I was preparing for a winning conversation with my the most difficult communicator--my twelve-years-old son. This person is able to make me furious in five seconds with only one word or turn of his head. In our conversations he is a silent sniper, a saboteur, a "no" person, a "thinks-he-knows-it-all" who punches all my buttons turning me in respond into a tank, a grenade. I should admit that this smart and energetic youngster needs more praising and less criticizing; he may also make me happy with only quick smile or glance. I was waiting when I will use new techniques on my son but the assignment is due, so here is what happened.

Saturday morning... Early Saturday morning... My son and husband just left to pick up son's friend for ski racing at Birch Hill and then for "boys'-day-out" in downtown leaving me alone with my homework and computer. I enjoyed a quiet morning sitting in pajamas in front of my lovely computer ...

Phone rang. My husband: "I am on Badger not far from Gas station. I am out of gas, please bring me a canister which is sitting under tree." OK, it is not for the first time when I have to jump into warm coat and boots in pajamas, drive a cold car to somewhere to rescue my forgetful husband. It is OK when tire is blown up and he does not have a jack in his car but when they are late for the ski racing and he gets stuck in the middle of somewhere because in dozen's time he did not check his gas tank for gas! O, dear! I was angry in the beginning. But I became more angry when I could not find canisters under any of dozens trees in our yard, then the cold car did not want to run. I did not find husband's car at Badger gas towards North Pole because it was actually on in the other direction towards Fairbanks. Time went by, they were later and later, and I was driving like crazy in my pajamas looking for those whom I must rescue. If you have been in a situation like that, you can imagine the rage boiling over.

And here he is--my happily smiling hero. I jumped out of the car angry as ten demons and started: "You know, it is not funny!!!" "It is irresponsible!!!" I held my unzipped coat with both hands at my chest and blurted my accusations. In seconds, my husband took the same with mine pose--his hands on his chest and looking into my eyes. "Yes, it is not funny." "Yes, it is irresponsible." He was pouring cool water into my boiling emotions but I could not stop, "You always forget to check your vehicle!" "Yes, I always forget…" He was pacing and backtracking me, I knew he used the methods I told him about after my Monday class. I felt that I was a guinea-pig but could not resist that the method was working.

When I was able to listen, husband started asking me clarifying questions. "Hmm. The canister was not under a tree?" "Did not I mention River View?" "Did I just say 'Badger' and 'Gas'?"

Conflict was over. I laughed at my own anger and words. We were able to laugh at the situation. Kids were late for ski racing but they found something to do for the day letting me work in a quiet home. In human relations my husband is an "A" specialist. I am lucky that I have the example to learn by every day. And actually the lesson is more effective because I was the subject of experiment. ^top of the page^

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Eve's Essays

Eve's Essays II (a new course at UAF)

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