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Winning human heart! Indirect Criticism

Winning human heart!

Chapter 23: Indirect Criticism

One day Charles Schwab was visiting one

of his factories during his lunch break

and came across several workers smoking

under the “No Smoking” sign.

He walked over to give each of them a cigar:

“Boys, if you’re smoking outside,

I totally approve of smoking.”

These workers knew they were caught breaking the rules,

but they still admired how he gently reminded them

and still kept face for them.

Who wouldn’t appreciate a person like that?

John Wanamaker also uses this method.

He used to take a tour of his big store

in Philadelphia every day.

He once saw a customer waiting at a checkout counter

while the sales staff were laughing

and talking to each other in a far corner.

Wanamaker quietly went behind the counter

and served the customer.

After that, he handed the customer’s item to the shopkeepers

to wrap it up without a word of reprimand,

and then went on to check it out.

Officials are often criticized for being difficult to access.

The problem is that their subordinates

do not want their boss

to be disturbed by too many guests. Carl Langford,

the mayor of Orlando, Florida,

often scolds employees for not allowing strangers to see him.

He advocated an “open door policy” but civilians

who wanted to enter were blocked

by his secretary and manager.

Finally, the mayor found a solution.

He removed the big door from his office!

His staff immediately received the message.

The mayor had a truly “open door” management policy

from that day on.

Many people often begin

with a sincere compliment,

followed by the word

“but” and end with a critical comment.

For example, while looking for ways

to change your child’s academic neglect,

you might say,

“We’re really proud of you,

Johnnie, because you ranked higher this term.

But if you work harder with algebra,

the results will be even better.”

In this case, Johnnie may feel encouraged

until he hears the word “but”.

At that point he might doubt the sincerity of the initial compliment.

To him, the compliment seemed

just a clever preparation to make a critical comment.

So you have lost his trust

and will not achieve your goal.

You can easily fix this

by changing the word “but” to the word “and”.

The reminder would look like this:

“I’m really proud of you, Johnnie,

because you ranked higher this semester.

And if you keep working hard like that,

your algebra score can also improve along

with other subjects next semester.”

Johnnie will accept that compliment

because it doesn’t entail a failure reminder.

The indirect attention of others

to their own shortcomings will be greatly appreciated

by sensitive people,

while they may feel very uncomfortable

in the face of any direct criticism.

Marge Jacob of Woonsocket,

Rhode Island,

recounted to my class

how she persuaded construction workers

to clean up her yard every day

as they expanded her house as follows:

The first few days,

when Mrs. Jacob came home from work,

she found the yard full of pieces

of wood scattered everywhere.

Because she didn’t want to upset the good builders,

she and her children gathered everything neatly

into a corner after the workers had left.

The next morning,

she called the foreman privately and said,

“I’m very happy

that you keep the beautiful,

clean flowerbed out front

and don’t make the neighbors uncomfortable.”

From then on,

although the house is still under repair,

the grandmother

and children do not need to clean up,

but their yard is always tidy.

On March 8, 1887,

the orator Henry Ward Beecher died.

The following Sunday,

Lyman Abbott was invited to give the eulogy.

He wrote again and again, refining every word.

Then he read it to his wife.

The meaning of the eulogy is actually

as poor as most ordinary eulogy.

If she had acted in the usual way,

the wife would have said:

“Mr. Lyman,

this is terrible what you write.

Where not?

This eulogy will put people to sleep.

It’s like an encyclopedia.

He should have known better

after all these years of teaching.

Why don’t you speak naturally like a normal person?

I’m sure you’ll lose your reputation if you read this.”

However, she did not say such vulgar words,

but only commented

that this article would be a great article

for the “North American Journal”.

In other words, she complimented it

and at the same time subtly suggested

that it was inappropriate for a eulogy.

Lyman immediately understood the point,

tore up the article he had carefully prepared,

and uttered his own tribute without resorting

to a single manuscript.

The eulogy that day made many people cry

and is considered his best eulogy.

Humans are naturally proud.

Saying outright that someone is wrong is the biggest mistake.


Principle 23: Comment on the mistakes of others indirectly.

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