5.Let the Other Person Save Face
Years ago the General Electric Company was faced with the delicate task of removing
Charles Steinmetz from the head of a department. Steinmetz, a genius of the first
magnitude when it came to electricity, was a failure as the head of the calculating
department. Yet the company didn’t dare offend the man. He was indispensable - and
highly sensitive. So they gave him a new title. They made him Consulting Engineer of
the General Electric Company - a new title for work he was already doing - and let
someone else head up the department.
Steinmetz was happy.
So were the officers of G.E. They had gently maneuvered their most temperamental star,
and they had done it without a storm - by letting him save face.
Letting one save face! How important, how vitally important that is! And how few of
us ever stop to think of it! We ride roughshod over the feelings of others, getting our
own way, finding fault, issuing threats, criticizing a child or an employee in front of
others, without even considering the hurt to the other person’s pride. Whereas a few
minutes’ thought, a considerate word or two, a genuine understanding of the other
person’s attitude, would go so far toward alleviating the sting!
Let’s remember that the next time we are faced with the distasteful necessity of
discharging or reprimanding an employee.
“Firing employees is not much fun. Getting fired is even less fun.” (I’m quoting now
from a letter written me by Marshall A. Granger, a certified public accountant.) “Our
business is mostly seasonal. Therefore we have to let a lot of people go after the income
tax rush is over.
It’s a byword in our profession that no one enjoys wielding the ax. Consequently, the
custom has developed of getting it over as soon as possible, and usually in the
following way: ‘Sit down, Mr. Smith. The season’s over, and we don’t seem to see any