Benjamin Franklin, who was tactless in his youth, became so diplomatic and adroit at handling people that he was made American ambassador to France. The secret of his success? “I will speak ill of no man,” Franklin said, “…and speak all the good I know of everybody.”
Dale Carnegie knew that any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain—and most fools do—but it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.
Carnegie liked to tell the story of Bob Hoover, who was a famous test pilot and frequent performer at air shows. Hooper was returning to his home in Los Angeles from an air show in San Diego. Suddenly, both engines stopped in mid-flight on the aircraft that Hoover was flying. Using his skills and some deft maneuvering, he managed to land the plane, but it was badly damaged. Thankfully, neither Hoover nor the two passengers that were flying with him were hurt.
Hoover’s first act after the emergency landing was to inspect the airplane’s fuel. Just as he suspected, the WWII 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.
No one would’ve blamed Hoover for ripping into the mechanic for his 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.”
Next time you’re prone to condemning someone, try to understand him or her instead. Try to figure out why the person did what he or she did. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance, and kindness. Remember…”To know all is to forgive all.”
Here’s an example of this principle in action from your friends at Dale Carnegie Training of Central Indiana:
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Photo credit: Ambro