Chapter5-4 : How to correct someone without making them close down and stop listening You should beg
Sometimes we feel, “I wish that person would quit doing that,” or “I wish he was aware that he has this particular defect.”
But we don’t like to acknowledge our own faults or mistakes, so when corrected by others, we usually reject the criticism or become angry.
If we’re criticized by a boss or someone who is clearly in a position of authority over us, we will apologize:
“I’m sorry. I understand now.”
Yet in our hearts we feel resentment and resistance, telling ourselves:
“He doesn’t understand what the situation was. He’s so narrow and inflexible!”
It’s very difficult to criticize someone else.
If you do it badly, your relationship will suffer.
For this reason, we tend to try to avoid offering criticisms.
Yet there are times when, for the sake of the other person, we feel “I’ve got to tell him this,” or “I need to make him understand this point.”
What should we do in such a case?
In cases like these, we are taught to use what is known as the method of giving and taking.
Here “giving” means listening to what the other person has to say and acknowledging and praising their efforts and strong points.
“Taking” means making them aware of their defects and mistakes, which they do not want to admit.
The point is first to listen to the other person’s point of view and concrete circumstances, and only then to point out their mistakes.
I heard a story that made a lot of sense to me, from a man working as a department head at a large enterprise.
Mr. Suzuki, a new employee assigned to the department head’s group, was willing to work hard, but was careless about punctuality, always arriving late to work or meetings, with the result that his coworkers were annoyed with him.
No matter how often he was warned, he just made excuses and showed no sign of changing his ways.
Worrying that if things continued this way, Mr. Suzuki would be unable to keep his place in the company, the department head figured out a way to correct him.
“You always seem cheerful, with a smile for everyone— that’s great, Mr. Suzuki! Everyone’s impressed with your good spirits. Do you make a special effort to do that?”
“I like being in contact with people, so I do my best to please those I meet,” replied Mr. Suzuki.
This was an aspect of his personality that the department head had not been aware of.
He praised highly Mr. Suzuki’s efforts in that direction, and only then added:
“You’re a fine young man, Mr. Suzuki. That’s what everyone says.
But someone pointed out, ‘His tardiness is his only flaw.
If he would just make an effort to be on time for things, he’d be a perfect colleague.’
And, you know, you do tend to be late for things.
Is there some reason for that?”
Mr. Suzuki answered: “I’m sorry. I know that’s true, and yet somehow I get so involved in what I’m doing at any given moment that I forget the time.”
“Being involved in what you’re doing is a very good thing, but if you’re habitually late, you inconvenience others.
Isn’t there something you could do to improve in that area?
Like setting your cell-phone alarm and making a point of getting to the meeting room ten minutes early, or something?”
Grateful for the helpful advice of the department head, Mr. Suzuki followed it and reduced his tardiness to almost zero.
When we want to let someone know something that is hard to say directly, as for example when we want him to correct his weak points, if we bring that up all of a sudden, the other person will react by closing down completely.
Instead of doing that, it’s important to begin by listening carefully to the other person’s explanation and by acknowledging and praising his good points.
Only then, move on to the problem points.