Notes to Myself - Dealing with People
My popularity, my happiness and sense of worth depend to no small extent upon my skill in dealing with people.
Hesitate about doing the natural thing, the impulsive thing.
Don’t criticise, condemn or complain
… ninety-nine times out of a hundred, people don’t cricise themselves for anything no matter how wrong it may be.
Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance and arouses resentment.
… an animal rewarded for good behaviour will learn much more rapidly and retain what it learns far more effectively than an animal punished for bad behaviour. By criticising, we do not make lasting changes and often incur resentment.
‘As much as we thirst for approval, we dread condemnation.’ - Hans Selye
The resentment that criticism engenders can demoralise people and still not correct the situation that has been condemned.
‘Judge not, that ye be not judged’ - Abraham Lincoln
Do you know someone you would like to change and regulate and improve? Good! That is fine. I am all in favour of it. But why not begin on yourself? From a purely selfish standpoint, that is a lot more profitable than trying to improve others - yes, and a lot less dangerous. ‘Don’t complain about the snow on your neighbour’s roof,’ said Confucious, ‘when your own doorstep is unclean.’
When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.
Any fool can criticise, condemn and complain – and most fools do. But it takes charachter and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.
‘A great man shows his greatness,’ said Carlyle, ‘by the way he treats little men.’
Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness. ‘To know all is to forgive all.’
‘God himself, sir, does not propose to judge man until the end of his days.’ Why should you and I?
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