This is the first of 30 principles in Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends and Influence People. All of the other principles are positive: be a good listener; give honest appreciation; make the other person feel important; try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view — the list goes on. It’s interesting to note that the only principle that says, “DON’T,” also happens to be the first one.
To think of it from a different angle, if you break this first principle you’ve made it considerably more difficult to have any positive influence with the others. In other words, this is essential in building strong, enduring relationships.
Anyone can run their mouth to Criticize, Complain and Condemn. As Dale says, most fools just do that. Why foolish, you ask? What does any of those things accomplish? Does complaining get anything done? How well does the blame game work? Does blaming some one, even if rightly deserved, move anything forward? Or does it just lead to hard feelings and plotting for revenge? Does condemnation work any differently for you, or does it get about the same results?
How about criticism? How effective of a motivational tool is that? How well does it work in a meeting to have every plan torn to shreds?
The opposite of the three C’s is a fourth C, Cooperation. Instead of complaining, cooperate and help solve whatever is making you complain. Instead of condemning people for what they are doing or failing to do, offer to lend a hand to get the task completed. Instead of criticizing, offer up alternate solutions that overcome the flaws in the original plan.
Some people’s motto has often been “I don’t suffer fools, I make fools suffer!” But I have found that usually, when I follow that path, I’m the one who ends up looking like the fool, and nothing useful comes of my actions.
Treating someone badly can seriously damage a team spirit, and life is a team sport, or at least that’s how it appears to me. Yes, sometimes others will take the credit or pass the blame. Pointing it out might make you right, but it isn’t always the best play for the team.
Cooperation, without doubt, is the quickest and most efficient manner to move forward!
Some of you maybe wondering “What about constructive criticism?” Yes, there are times when it is important to let another person know that their behavior or way of doing things needs improvement. In conclusion, if the goal is build and maintain — not destroy — long-term personal and business relationships, it is probably a good idea to stay away from criticism, condemnation, and complaining.