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Dale Carnegie 9 (nine) ways to Change people without giving offence or arousing resentment Principle 3: Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person (Talk about your own mistakes first)
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My niece, Josephine Carnegie, had come to New York to be my secretary. She was nineteen, had graduated from high school three years previously, and her business experience was a trifle more than zero. She became one of the most proficient secretaries west of Suez, but in the beginning, she was - well, susceptible to improvement. One day when I started to criticize her, I said to myself: "Just a minute, Dale Carnegie; just a minute. You are twice as old as Josephine. You have had ten thousand times as much business experience. How can you possibly expect her to have your viewpoint, your judgment, your initiative - mediocre though they may be? And just a minute, Dale, what were you doing at nineteen? Remember the asinine mistakes and blunders you made? Remember the time you did this ... and that ...?" After thinking the matter over, honestly and impartially, I concluded that Josephine's batting average at nineteen was better than mine had been - and that, I'm sorry to confess, isn't paying Josephine much of a compliment. So after that, when I wanted to call Josephine's attention to a mistake, I used to begin by saying, "You have made a mistake, Josephine, but the Lord knows, it's no worse than many I have made. You were not born with judgment. That comes only with experience, and you are better than I was at your age. I have been guilty of so many stupid, silly things myself; I have very little inclusion to criticize you or anyone. But don't you think it would have been wiser if you had done so and so?" It isn't nearly so difficult to listen to a recital of your faults if the person criticizing begins by humbly admitting that he, too, is far from impeccable. E.G. Dillistone, an engineer in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada, was having problems with his new secretary. Letters he dictated were coming to his desk for signature with two or three spelling mistakes per page. Mr. Dillistone reported how he handled this: "Like many engineers, I have not been noted for my excellent English or spelling. For years I have kept a little black thumb - index book for words I had trouble spelling. When it became apparent that merely pointing out the errors was not going to cause my secretary to do more proofreading and dictionary work, I resolved to take another approach. When the next letter came to my attention that had errors in it, I sat down with the typist and said: " 'Somehow this word doesn't look right. It's one of the words I always have had trouble with. That's the reason I started this spelling book of mine. [I opened the book to the appropriate page.] Yes, here it is. I'm very conscious of my spelling now because people do judge us by our letters and misspellings make us look less professional. "I don't know whether she copied my system or not, but since that conversation, her frequency of spelling errors has been significantly reduced." The polished Prince Bernhard von Bulow learned the sharp necessity of doing this back in 1909. Von Bulow was then the Imperial Chancellor of Germany and on the throne sat Wilhelm II-Wilhelm, the haughty; Wilhelm the arrogant; Wilhelm, the last of the German Kaisers, building an army and navy that he boasted could whip their weight in wildcats then an astonishing thing happened. The Kaiser said things, incredible things, things that rocked the continent and started a series of explosions heard around the world. To make matters infinitely worse, the Kaiser made silly, egotistical, absurd announcements in public, he made them while he was a guest in England, and he gave his royal permission to have them printed in the Daily Telegraph. For example, he declared that he was the only German who felt friendly toward the English; that he was constructing a navy against the menace of Japan; that he, and he alone, had saved England from being humbled in the dust by Russia and France; that it had been his campaign plan that enabled England's Lord Roberts to defeat the Boers in South Africa; and so on and on. No other such amazing words had ever fallen from the lips of a European king in peacetime within a hundred years. The entire continent buzzed with the fury of a hornet's nest. England was incensed. German statesmen were aghast. And in the midst of all this consternation, the Kaiser became panicky and suggested to Prince von Bulow, the Imperial Chancellor, that he take the blame. Yes, he wanted von Bulow to announce that it was all his responsibility, that he had advised his monarch to say these incredible things. "But Your Majesty," von Bulow protested, "it seems to me utterly impossible that anybody either in Germany or England could suppose me capable of having advised Your Majesty to say any such thing." The moment those words were out of von Bulow’s mouth, he realized he had made a grave mistake. The Kaiser blew up. "You consider me a donkey," he shouted, "capable of blunders you yourself could never have committed!" Von Bulow’s knew that he ought to have praised before he condemned; but since that was too late, he did the next best thing. He praised after he had criticized. And it worked a miracle. "I'm far from suggesting that," he answered respectfully. "Your Majesty surpasses me in many respects; not only of course, in naval and military knowledge but above all, in natural science. I have often listened in admiration when Your Majesty explained the barometer, or wireless telegraphy, or the Roentgen rays. I am shamefully ignorant of all branches of natural science, have no notion of chemistry or physics, and am quite incapable of explaining the simplest of natural phenomena. But," von Bulow continued, "In compensation, I possess some historical knowledge and perhaps certain qualities useful in politics, especially in diplomacy." The Kaiser beamed. Von Bulow had praised him. Von Bulow had exalted him and humbled himself. The Kaiser could forgive anything after that. "Haven't I always told you," he exclaimed with enthusiasm, "that we complete one another famously? We should stick together, and we will!" He shook hands with von Bulow, not once, but several times. And later in the day he waxed so enthusiastic that he exclaimed with doubled fists, "If anyone says anything to me against Prince von Bulow, I shall punch him in the nose." Von Bulow saved himself in time - but, canny diplomat that he was, he nevertheless had made one error: he should have begun by talking about his own shortcomings and Wilhelm's superiority - not by intimating that the Kaiser was a half-wit in need of a guardian. If a few sentences humbling oneself and praising the other party can turn a haughty, insulted Kaiser into a staunch friend, imagine what humility and praise can do for you and me in our daily contacts. Rightfully used, they will work veritable miracles in human relations. Admitting one's own mistakes - even when one hasn't corrected them - can help convince somebody to change his behavior. This was illustrated more recently by Clarence Zerhusen of Timonium, Maryland, when he discovered his fifteen-year-old son was experimenting with cigarettes. "Naturally, I didn't want David to smoke," Mr. Zerhusen told us, "but his mother and I smoked cigarettes; we were giving him a bad example all the time. I explained to Dave how I started smoking at about his age and how the nicotine had gotten the best of me and now it was nearly impossible for me to stop. I reminded him how irritating my cough was and how he had been after me to give up cigarettes not many years before. "I didn't exhort him to stop or make threats or warn him about their dangers. All I did was point out how I was hooked on cigarettes and what it had meant to me. "He thought about it for a while and decided he wouldn't smoke until he had graduated from high school. As the years went by David never did start smoking and has no intention of ever doing so. "As a result of that conversation I made the decision to stop smoking cigarettes myself, and with the support of my family, I have succeeded." A good leader follows this principle: Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
Principle 3: Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person   9 (nine) ways to change people without giving offence or arousing resentment
Principle 3: Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person