The Biggest Problem You and I Face
by Kevin D. Crone
That problem is dealing with people, especially if we work in business. Even in a technical position such as engineering. About 15% of one’s financial success is due to technical knowledge and about 85% is due to skill in human engineering, personality and the ability to lead people. Today’s impersonal, but quick communications leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to building relationships, so the problem may be getting more serious.
For over 100 years, our company has engaged organizations and individuals in projects and courses to tackle this big issue. Dale Carnegie conducts human laboratories where people apply and report on the results of principles of psychology and behavior that are easy to apply in business, life and work. All these principles have a profound effect on the skill of management, leadership, marketing, sales, innovation, and change management all over the world. We have earned the right to talk to you today about one of the most important principles. Everyone understands it but few of us really consciously discipline ourselves to apply it. Those that do apply this principle, enjoy more profits, sales, leisure, team engagement and employee retention. Most importantly, a happier family life. This is not just guesswork or an academic exercise. It’s like magic when turned into a habit. Let me begin with the first of 37 principles we have asked over eight million people to apply.
Awhile ago, I witnessed two people who cared for each other for many years, well schooled in life, strong-valued people, argue over nonsense. It was started by one of them who began to nitpick and criticize the other about some ordinary, everyday life issue. It escalated into back and forth criticisms. This silly argument spoiled a great time and a lifelong relationship. It ended in both saying they would never talk to each other again. The nit-picker stated that she has never seen anything like this before and that people are idiots. If she had seen it from my view, she would have seen who the real idiot was.
No one ever blames themselves for anything. Just minutes ago I got off the phone from a supplier who had made a delivery promise but never bothered to let me know they couldn’t deliver until I called them. To me, it was a big thing and caused a lot of other problems and inconveniences. And, of course they want me to come and get the order, because it wasn’t their fault! They never apologized. They really didn’t want to talk about my issues. They probably thought business is tough today, what do you want? That seems to be how it goes too often in business and it can make us all cynical and non-trusting. If we don’t watch it, we will stop treating people the way we want to be treated. Then our only option is to chase new customers and dollars instead of pleasing customers and changing their lives.
From baseball players who cheat with drugs, to spoiled selfish athletes and actors, no one sees they are at fault. They are just victims of circumstances. Of course they are. A couple of weeks ago that Norwegian mass murderer proclaimed in court that he was doing good not evil. A mass murderer says that, for cripes sake. So you know the average person doesn’t blame themselves for anything.
So what about the people with whom you and I come in contact? We have enough trouble overcoming our own limitations without fretting over others. So regardless of how frustrating it can be dealing with some people, constantly operating from chronic criticism, sarcasm and fault-finding will get us nowhere. It is futile because it puts others on the defensive and usually he/she strives to justify themselves. We have all said things from emotion that we wish we had back and most times we can’t get it back. Books are filled with stories of how wars were started, family businesses destroyed, major deals collapsed, acquisitions gone bad, and what’s worse, family members not talking to each other. All because of criticism and the toxic relationships that it causes. So there you have it.
When you and I are tempted to criticize, complain or condemn, let’s catch ourselves and remember we are dealing with creatures of emotion not logic, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated mostly by pride and vanity. Criticism, sarcasm, nit-picking, is a dangerous spark. Dale Carnegie said. “Any fool can criticize and most fools do.” There are better ways of getting along with and leading people.
Let’s try to listen to people with an insight into what is behind other’s talk. Let’s try to understand them whether we agree with them or not. Let’s try to find some common ground and comment on it. Get into the habit of listening for what you like instead of what you don’t like. Forget about being right all the time. No one wants to be around arrogant people who always have to show they are right. Catch yourself when you are complaining No one wants to be around complainers. Be an interested conversationalist, for your sake regardless of the occasional bores you might run into. See what happens. Your only access to better relationships and results is to work on yourself. If you do, people will want to help you when you need help, will follow you more easily and will be more willing to work things out with you in tough situations.
Tell people what you are up for instead of what you are against. You will find many will want to join you. People do need to be held accountable and tense situations will always occur, but you can handle them with tact. If you want more success and happiness, develop the habit of not being a chronic criticizer, condemner and complainer and you won’t be the cause of arguments. Again, the best way to get the most of arguments is to avoid them. No matter how good we may think we are at dealing with people, we can always slide into unconscious bad habits, so right now is the time to proactively boost your effectiveness at dealing with the biggest problem you will ever have. And good news, you have the solution.
This morning, send an email to yourself. Remind yourself to apply this classic principle. Practice it all week:
Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
[Try it on – see what happens.]
It should be a good week!
Kevin D. Crone
Chairman, Dale Carnegie Business Group
firstname.lastname@example.org or 905-826-7300 / 1-800-361-2032
How to Lead Change and Build Momentum – complimentary workshop!
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Questions? Please contact Karin Batev: 905-617-7542 / 1-800-361-2032 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions? Please contact us: 905-826-7300 / 1-800-361-2032 / email@example.com
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