In our last post, we discussed calling attention to peoples’ mistakes indirectly.

The third of Dale Carnegie’s Nine Principles That Will Transform Your Life is to:

Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.

Your professional success is directly related to the strength of your key relationships.

It is indeed the rarest of individuals who is able to accept criticism gracefully without becoming defensive and combative. Rather than counting on this rarity, why not practice a different approach, which has proven to be so much more effective on the vast majority of we humans?

Mr. Carnegie relates the story of a 19 year old secretary he hired who rather consistently showed her youth and inexperience by making numerous errors. Instead of directly confronting her, he paused to reflect on ‘where he was’ at that age, and all the mistakes he’d made, and would make, under similar circumstances.

So, in speaking with her, he shared that he was favorably impressed with the effort she was making, how he recalled the challenges he’d faced embarking on a new career, and the mistakes he made. He shared that he understood there was a learning curve, but knew innate talent when he saw it, and could see he was working with a rising star. He then asked if she’d mind if he shared some constructive feedback with her.

The result was a rapid reduction in the amount and seriousness of the errors, and a worker who quickly rose through the ranks to become one of the company’s most valuable assets.

The next time you need to bring an error to someone’s attention, do it indirectly. For one thing, it makes it easier on you to have the discussion in the first place. I also think you’ll find the outcome more to your liking.

Stay tuned for Tip Four of Nine:

Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

by Danny Bobrow

 
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