Apples and Carrots

Please welcome my guest author, Nicholas Boothman, an expert in communication and author of 4 best-selling books, How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less, How to Connect in Business in 90 Seconds or Less, How to Make Someone Fall in Love with You in 90 Minutes or Less and Convince Them in 90 Seconds.

Horse eating appleCommunication is a double-edged sword. It works best when you say what you want, not what you don’t want.

I live on a farm in a very picturesque part of the countryside. One of my neighbors raises horses. At weekends people come out from the city to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. Sometimes, they stop and feed my neighbor’s horses.

“They’re driving me nuts,” he told me one Saturday morning. “Horses don’t eat left over hamburgers and pizza: they’re vegetarians, for heavens sake! They just sniff it and drop it right there. Before long it attracts flies and rats and dogs. So, I put up a sign ‘Do Not Feed The Horses,’ but the problem got worse.”

“I’m not surprised,” I said. “Now people who’d never even thought about feeding the horses until they saw your sign thought ‘oh let’s feed the horses.”

“I thought it was because the sign was too pushy. So I changed it to read ‘Please Do Not Feed The Horses,’ but it got even worse.”

“No kidding? Now people drive by and think, ‘Oh what a great idea, let’s stop and let granny and the kids feed the horses. This guy’s polite, he says ‘please,’ he won’t mind.”

“Nick, you’ve got to help me I’m at my wit’s end.”

I scribbled a few words on a scrap of paper. “Try putting this on your sign.”

I didn’t see him again until the end of summer. One evening his truck pulled up in my driveway and he got out smiling.

“Nick, it worked like magic.”

That was three years ago. If you drive by today you can see the sign for yourself. It simply reads, “We only eat apples and carrots.”

Moral of the story: Communication is a double-edged sword. It works best when you say what you want, not what you don’t want.


Nicholas BoothmanAbout the Author:

A former fashion and advertising photographer who dealt with hundreds of new faces a week for clients like AT&T, Revlon and Coca-Cola Nicholas Boothman now shows businesses around the world how to naturally connect and build trust, from first impressions to profitable relationships, and all the communicating in-between. Get a free boost to your people skills at

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