How to Deal with People More Effectively
Learn what it means to be diplomatic.
How to Deal With People More Effectively
This week’s topic – diplomatic communication, or how to deal with people with tact and skill.
Today, I’m going to cover just three simple rules that I believe are fundamental to dealing with people more effectively and being diplomatic. (And I promise to continue the discussion another episode).
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that although the three rules I’ll talk about today are my rules, these rules were heavily influenced by Dale Carnegie’s classic best seller, How to Win Friends And Influence People For some of you, these might not seem to be rules of diplomacy, but basic tenets of human nature.
So let’s get started with the first rule.
Diplomacy Rule # 1: Don’t Criticize
In Carnegie’s book, he says, "Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person's precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment." I think this holds true for criticism of others and even for self-criticism. The bottom line is that criticism makes people feel bad. So don’t do it!
And to be clear, I’m not suggesting that you should never point out flaws. I think that if your role is to help someone (or something) grow, it’s your responsibility to point out areas for improvement. However, along with the flaws, you also need to provide strategies for overcoming the problems. That is, you need to present problems with solutions, not just problems. And notice I said solutions, with an “s.” If possible, provide alternative solutions to help the other person still feel in control of the final solution.
Finally, keep in mind the old saying, “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” For sure you can bring more people to your side by gentle persuasion and appreciation than by hostile confrontation.
In short, the first rule of diplomacy is don’t criticize.
Diplomacy Rule #2: Be Appreciative
No one likes their work or their ideas to be rejected. However, sincere appreciation is always welcome and wanted. I’m not suggesting false flattery, only honest appreciation for a job well done. Appreciating someone is as simple as saying thanks.
Appreciation should be frequent. It should also be both public and private. I had a boss once, actually, he was my boss’s boss (Fred was his name). I considered (and still consider) Fred to be the king of appreciation. He would regularly send sincere, short, “way-to-go” emails expressing his appreciation for extra effort. He would be sure to include all the right people on the email. Those emails only cost him a minute of his time, but they had a major effect; consistent, frequent public and private appreciation is very powerful. He fueled my confidence, he gained my deepest respect, and his words motivated me to work even harder.
Everyone loved Fred. So if he asked someone to do something extra, do you think anyone ever said no? Or if he offered alternative solutions to challenges, do you think it was ever viewed as criticism? The bottom line is this, appreciation isn’t hard to give and it can go a long way toward helping you work effectively with people.
Remember rule 2 of diplomacy, be appreciative.
Diplomacy Rule # 3: See the Other Person’s Point Of View
Henry Ford said, "If there's any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person's point of view and see things from that person's angle as well as from your own." Interestingly my Dad preached his own version of this idea to me for many, many years. He’d say, “Everyone is entitled to their own misguided opinion.” His point was that he that every person has a unique point of view and that it’s important to try to figure out WHY they say what they say.
It turns out that if you are able to put yourself in the shoes of the other person, it will help you to gain perspective. You’ll understand the entire picture just a little better. It will also help you to show genuine concern, which will make the other person feel like you are making an effort to listen and understand their position. Sometimes that’s what other people need—they just need to feel they have been heard.
So rule number three of diplomacy: try to see it from the other person’s perspective.
How Can You Put These Tips to Work?
When I was first introduced to these concepts, although I understood them, I wasn’t exactly sure how to implement them on a practical level. How do you do this at work? How exactly do avoid criticism? How do you show appreciation? And finally, how do you see another’s person’s point of view? In part two of my discussion of diplomacy, I’ll share some practical tips to help you implement today’s three fundamental rules of diplomacy. In the meantime, I’ve included a link to book summary that I found of the classic best seller, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Our intern, Emily, over at MarshallWolfe.com found an interesting blog post on Think Simple Now with some tips on how to deal with difficult people.
This is The Public Speaker, Lisa B. Marshall. Passionate about communication, your success is my business.
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Book Summary of How to Win Friends and Influence People
Interesting blog post from Think Simple Now about Dealing with difficult people