Human Relations Principle #23: Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
(“How to criticize—and not be hated for it.”)
(This is the twenty-third 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.))*
Calling attention to one’s mistakes indirectly works wonders with sensitive people who may resent bitterly any direct criticism.
Simply changing one three-letter word can often spell the difference between failure and success in changing people without giving offense or arousing resentment. Many people begin their criticism with sincere praise followed by the word “but” and ending with a critical statement. The word “but” has the psychological effect of negating what was said before it. When we hear the word “but” our mind and body go into defensive mode preparing for the hurtful criticism that is to come. It is much more effective to change the word “but” to “and.”