3.Talk About Your Own Mistakes First
My niece, Josephine Carnegie, had come to New York to be my secretary. She was
nineteen, had graduated from high school three years previously, and her business
experience was a trifle more than zero. She became one of the most proficient
secretaries west of Suez, but in the beginning, she was - well, susceptible to
improvement. One day when I started to criticize her, I said to myself: “Just a minute,
Dale Carnegie; just a minute. You are twice as old as Josephine. You have had ten
thousand times as much business experience. How can you possibly expect her to have
your viewpoint, your judgment, your initiative - mediocre though they may be? And
just a minute, Dale, what were you doing at nineteen? Remember the asinine mistakes
and blunders you made? Remember the time you did this . . . and that . . . ?"
After thinking the matter over, honestly and impartially, I concluded that Josephine’s
batting average at nineteen was better than mine had been - and that, I’m sorry to
confess, isn’t paying Josephine much of a compliment.
So after that, when I wanted to call Josephine’s attention to a mistake, I used to begin by
saying, “You have made a mistake, Josephine, but the Lord knows, it’s no worse than
many I have made. You were not born with judgment. That comes only with experience,
and you are better than I was at your age. I have been guilty of so many stupid, silly
things myself; I have very little incline to criticize you or anyone. But don’t you think it
would have been wiser if you had done so and so?"
It isn’t nearly so difficult to listen to a recital of your faults if the person criticizing
begins by humbly admitting that he, too, is far from impeccable.
E. G. Dillistone, an engineer in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada, was having problems with
his new secretary. Letters he dictated were coming to his desk for signature with two or