In Principle 6, we encouraged you to Praise the slightest and every improvement. Be hearty in your approbation, and lavish in your praise.
Principle 7 suggests you:
Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
This principle is reminiscent of the ‘build burn build’ communication model that, among other places, is advocated in The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard. Essentially, it recommends ‘sandwiching’ criticism with positive reinforcement.
In framing the challenge, Dale Carnegie asks: What do you do when a person who has been a good worker begins to turn in shoddy work? You can fire him or her, but that really doesn’t solve anything. You can berate the worker, but this usually causes resentment.
Carnegie relates the story of a mechanic whose work had become less than satisfactory. Rather than threaten the worker, his employer said to him:
“Stan, you’re a fine mechanic. You have been in this business for a long time. You’ve done very good work, and we’ve received many compliments about it. Lately, the time you take to finish projects has been on the rise with the result not being at its former standards. Because of your fine record, I knew you’d want me to share this with you and that together, we could find a way to address the situation.
Stan had not realized the quality of his output had deteriorated, and assured his employer that he would improve in the future.
In short order, he once again became a fast and thorough mechanic.
With the reputation he was given to live up to, how could he do anything else?
“The average person,” said Samuel Vauclain “can be led readily if you have his or her respect and if you show that you respect that person for some kind of ability.”
So remember: if you want to improve a person in a certain respect, act as though that particular trait were already one of his or her
outstanding characteristics. Give them a fine reputation to live up to, and they will make prodigious efforts rather than see you disillusioned.
Stay tuned for Principle 8, which is to:
Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.