Human Relations Principle #24: Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.

(“Talk about your own mistakes first.”)


(This is the twenty-fourth in a series of articles where I will encapsulate each of Dale Carnegie’s timeless, life-changing principles for dealing with people. (Adapted from How to Win Friends and Influence People.))*

It isn’t nearly so difficult to listen to a recital of your faults if the person criticizing begins humbly admitting that he or she, too, is far from impeccable.

Before starting to criticize another person . . .

Before starting to criticize another person we might want to, stop, and reflect on our own experience compared to the other person. Doing so may trigger our thoughts to go something like this, “You are twice as old as him or her. You have had ten thousand times as much business experience. How can you possibly expect him or her to have your viewpoint, your judgment, your initiative—mediocre though they may be? Remember the asinine mistakes and blunders you made? Remember the time you did this…and that…?”

After such reflection, your conversation might go more like this, “You have made a mistake but Lord knows, it’s no worse than many I have made. You were not born with judgment. That only comes with experience, and you are better than I was at your age. I have been guilty of so many stupid, silly things myself, I have very little inclination to criticize you or anyone. That said, don’t you think it would be wiser if you do so and so next time?”

Humbling one’s self produces miracles

Admitting one’s own mistakes—even when one hasn’t corrected them—can help convince somebody to change his or her behavior.

A few sentences humbling oneself and praising the other party can turn even a proud, insulted authoritarian into a staunch friend. Imagine what humility and praise can do for you and me in our daily contacts. Rightfully used, they will work veritable miracles in human relations.

Be a good leader and talk about your own mistakes before criticizing others.

Much success and fulfillment with mastering human relations,



* The best guide on effective human relations that I have ever encountered is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, published in 1936. Prior to writing the book, Carnegie spent 20 years researching the habits of successful people. The book has sold over 30 million copies and is still listed on Amazon’s top 100 best selling books.

Other articles within this series you may enjoy:

3 Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

6 Ways to Make People Like You

12 Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

9 Ways to Be a Leader:

How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

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