FUNDAMENTAL TECHNIQUES IN HANDLING PEOPLE
Human beings always seem to have an opinion of other people, what other people do, how they walk, how they talk, what they buy with their own money. Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain – and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be under-standing and forgiving.
“A great man shows his greatness,” said Carlyle, “by the way he treats little men.”
Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.
B. F. Skinner, the world-famous psychologist, proved through his experiments that an animal rewarded for good behavior will learn much more rapidly and retain what it learns far more effectively than an animal punished for bad behavior. Later studies have shown that the same applies to humans. By criticizing, we do not make lasting changes and often incur resentment.
Hans Selye, another great psychologist, said, “As much as we thirst for approval, we dread condemnation,”
The resentment that criticism engenders can demoralize employees, family members and friends, and still not correct the situation that has been condemned. Let’s realize that the person we are going to correct and condemn will probably justify himself or herself, and condemn us in return.
Bob Hoover, a famous test pilot and frequent performer at air shows, was returning to his home in Los Angeles from an air show in San Diego. As described in the magazine Flight Operations, at three hundred feet in the air, both engines suddenly stopped. By deft maneuvering he managed to land the plane, but it was badly damaged although nobody was hurt. Hoover’s first act after the emergency landing was to inspect the airplane’s fuel. Just as he suspected, the World War II propeller plane he had been flying had been fueled with jet fuel rather than gasoline. Upon returning to the airport, he asked to see the mechanic who had serviced his airplane. The young man was sick with the agony of his mistake. Tears streamed down his face as Hoover approached. He had just caused the loss of a very expensive plane and could have caused the loss of three lives as well.
You can imagine Hoover’s anger. One could anticipate the tongue-lashing that this proud and precise pilot would unleash for that carelessness. But Hoover didn’t scold the mechanic; he didn’t even criticize him. Instead, he put his big arm around the man’s shoulder and said, “To show you I’m sure that you’ll never do this again, I want you to service my F-51 tomorrow.”
Any other person would have barked insults at this young man, reprimanded him or even fired him on the spot but this pilot showed he wasn’t just a human being, he was a forgiving and understanding human being.
When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.
Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do.
That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness. “To know all is to forgive all.”
As Dr. Johnson said: “God himself, sir, does not propose to judge man until the end of his days.”
Why should you and I?
Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
“How To Make Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie