“Assume a virtue, if you have it not.”
Human Relations Principle #28: Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.”
(“Give a dog a good name.”)
(This is the twenty-eighth 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.))*
If you want to improve a person in a certain respect, act as though that particular trait were already one of his or her outstanding characteristics.
It might be well to assume and state openly that other people have the virtue you want them to develop. Give them a fine reputation to live up to, and they will make prodigious efforts rather than see you disillusioned.
There’s an old saying: “Give a dog a bad name and you may as well hang him.” But give him a good name—and see what happens.
What to do when a good worker begins to turn in shoddy work . . .
You can fire him or her, but that really doesn’t solve anything. You can berate the worker, but this usually causes resentment.
Instead, why not sit down and have a heart to heart conversation with him or her. Let him or her know how much you have appreciated the outstanding work he or she has done in the past. Let him or her know your dissatisfaction with the present situation. Then, jointly agree to some way to correct the problem. Give him or her a fine reputation to live up to.
Samuel Vauclain, President of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, said, “The average person can be led readily if you have his or her respect and if you show that you respect that person for some kind of ability.”
What an savvy teacher did to handle a troublesome student . . .
When Mrs. Ruth Hopkins, a fourth-grade teacher in Brooklyn, New York, looked at her class roster for the first day of school, her excitement and joy of starting a new term was tinged with anxiety. In her class this year she would have Tommy T., the school’s most notorious “bad boy.” His third-grade teacher had constantly complained about Tommy to colleagues, the principal and anyone else who would listen. He was not just mischievous; he caused serious discipline problems in the class, picked fights with boys, teased girls, was fresh to the teacher, and seemed to get worse as he grew older. His only redeeming feature was his ability to learn rapidly and master school work easily.
Mrs. Hopkins decided to face the “Tommy problem” immediately. When she greeted her new students, she made little comments to each of them: “Rose, that’s a pretty dress you are wearing.” “Alicia, I hear you draw beautifully.” When she came to Tommy, she looked him straight in the eyes and said, “Tommy, I understand you are a natural leader. I’m going to depend on you to help make the class the best class in the fourth grade this year.” She reinforced this over the first few days by complimenting Tommy on everything he did and commenting on how this showed what a good student he was. With that reputation to live up to, even a nine-year-old couldn’t let her down—and he didn’t.
If you want to excel in that difficult leadership role of changing the attitude or behavior of others, give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
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
- Human Relations Principle #1: Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
- Human Relations Principle #2: Give honest and sincere appreciation.
- Human Relations Principle #3: Arouse in the other person an eager want.
6 Ways to Make People Like You
- Human Relations Principle #4: Become genuinely interested in other people.
- Human Relations Principle #5: Smile.
- Human Relations Principle #6: Remember that a person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
- Human Relations Principle #7: Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
- Human Relations Principle #8: Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
- Human Relations Principle #9: Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely.
12 Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking
- Human Relations Principle #10: The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
- Human Relations Principle #11: Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”
- Human Relations Principle #12: If your are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
- Human Relations Principle #13: Begin in a friendly way.
- Human Relations Principle #14: Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.
- Human Relations Principle #15: Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
- Human Relations Principle #16: Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
- Human Relations Principle #17: Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
- Human Relations Principle #18: Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
- Human Relations Principle #19: Appeal to the nobler motives.
- Human Relations Principle #20: Dramatize your ideas.
- Human Relations Principle #21: Throw down a challenge.
9 Ways to Be a Leader:
How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment
- Human Relations Principle #22: Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
- Human Relations Principle #23: Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
- Human Relations Principle #24: Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
- Human Relations Principle #25: Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
- Human Relations Principle #26: Let the other person save face.
- Human Relations Principle #27: Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”