One of Dale Carnegie’s primary management tips was to always let the other person save face—even in cases where the person was grossly ineffective at their job.
In his now legendary book, “How To Win Friends and Influence People,” Carnegie tells the story of how General Electric Company was faced with the delicate task of removing Charles Steinmentz from the head of a department. Steinmentz, as it turned out, was a genius when it came to electricity, but washed out as head of the calculating department. (Keep in mind that this book was first published in 1936!)
But instead of offending the man—who the company considered indispensable and highly sensitive—GE gave him the new title of “Consulting Engineer.” The title was, for all intents and purposes, for work he was already doing, and it allowed someone else to head up the calculating department.
Steinmentz was happy, as was General Electric Company. They had gently maneuvered their most temperamental star, and they had done it without a storm—by letting him save face.
A few minutes thought, and a considerate word or two, will go a long way toward avoiding trampling on another person’s feelings. Consider this the next time you’re faced with finding fault, issuing threats, or criticizing someone in front of others. A genuine understanding of the other person’s attitude goes a long way towards alleviating the sting!
Here’s an example of this important principle in action from Dale Carnegie Training:
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