(Jess Lair, psychologist)
For the ones who are familiar with my blog it should be quite clear that I have always been fascinated by the subject of human relationships in the workplace and that the more I study it the more it intrigues me. With that, I have always wondered if there might be any rules that could be listed down and applied in the many different working relationships we face daily in our life.
Dale Carnegie in 'How to Win Friends and Influence People' seemed to answer my question very well. In fact, in his famous book he presented what he called the 'principles of human relations'.
I read the book with great interest and fascination. I am very happy to dedicate a marginalia about it.
In particular, I have decided to write about one of the principles given in chapter four “Be a Leader”.
The principle is the number 6: Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise”.
At the beginning of the chapter, the author asks a question: “Why, I wonder, don't we use praise instead of condemnation?”
“Let us praise even the slightest improvement. That inspires the other person to keep on improving. I can look back at my own life and see where a few words of praise have sharply changed my entire future. Can't you say the same thing about your life?”
The author reports about the experiments of psychologist B.F. Skinner who by working with both animals and humans found that when criticism is minimized and praise emphasized, the good things people do will be reinforced and the poorer things will atrophy for lack of attention.
The author explains how powerful all this can be: “If we inspire the people with whom we come in contact to a realization of the hidden treasures they possess, we can literally transform them”.
Therefore, the suggestion given by the Cornegie in order to become a more effective leader, is to “use at the fullest extent the magic ability to praise and inspire people with a realization of their latent possibilities”.
“However”, writes also the author, “the principle will work only if it comes from the heart “(we all crave appreciation and recognition but nobody wants insincerity).
I would like to conclude these marginalia about the power of praise and recognition, by reporting a story that Dale Carnegie himself reports in that respect:
“In the early nineteenth century, a young man in London aspired to be a writer. But everything seemed to be against him. He had never been able to attend school more than four years. His father had been flung in jail because he couldn't pay his debts, and this young man often knew the pangs of hunger. Finally, he got a job pasting labels on bottles of blacking in a rat-infested warehouse, and he slept at night in a dismal attic room with two other boys – guttersnipes from the slums of London.
He had so little confidence in his ability to write that he sneaked out and mailed his first manuscript in the dead of night so nobody would laugh at him. Story after story was refused.
Finally the great day came when one was accepted. True, he wasn't paid a shilling for it, but one editor had praised him. One editor had given him recognition. He was so thrilled that he wandered aimlessly around the streets with tears rolling down his cheeks.
The praise, the recognition, that he received through getting one story in print, changed his whole life, for if it hadn't been for that encouragement, he might have spent his entire life working in rat-infested factories.
You may have heard of that boy. His names was Charles Dickens”.
As for Principle 6 listed in 'Be a Leader', all of the other principles of human relations given by Dale Carnegie in his book are very well worth reading. I encourage you to read the entire work. You might find those principles very helpful and beneficial and might want to apply them to your closest relationships at work!