Make the Fault Seem Easy to Correct

July 28, 2011

In his legendary and inspirational book, “How To Win Friends and Influence People,” Dale Carnegie tells the story of a forty-year-old bachelor friend of his who had become engaged, and whose fiancée persuaded him to take dancing lessons.

His friend readily admitted that he could use the lessons, confessing, “I danced just as I did when I first started twenty years ago.”

The first dancing teacher that he went to told him that he was doing it all wrong, and that he would have to forget everything and begin all over again. Her stinging words ended up disheartening the man who quickly quit dancing lessons, having no incentive to go on.

The next dancing instructor he tried nonchalantly told him that his dancing was a bit old fashioned perhaps, but the fundamentals were all right. She assured him that he wouldn’t have any trouble learning a few new steps.

The first teacher had discouraged him by emphasizing his mistakes. The new teacher did the opposite—she kept praising things he did right and minimizing his errors. She told him things like, “You have a natural sense of rhythm,” and “You really are a natural born dancer.”

Carnegie’s friend had enough common sense to know that he’d always be a fourth-rate dancer; yet deep in his heart he liked to think that maybe his new teacher meant what she said. “At any rate,” the friend said, “I know I am a better dancer than I would have been if she hadn’t told me I had a natural sense of rhythm. That encouraged me. That gave me hope. It made me want to improve.”

Use encouragement when pointing out people’s faults. Make the fault you want to correct seem easy to correct, and make the thing you want the other person to do seem easy to do.

Here’s an example of this principle in action from Dale Carnegie Training:

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Central Indiana, providers of professional development and management development courses and information in Indiana. We would love to connect with you on Facebook.

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