Three Ways to… Handle People in the Workplace

The workplace. An atmosphere that all of us have experienced in one way or another. Depending on the job you have, you may have dealt with all kinds of people through waiting, customer service, sales, marketing, human resources, different types of pitches and more. Dealing with people in the workplace is inevitable and with that said it is obvious that it is not always a pleasant experience. If you’ve ever worked in the retail or restaurant business you know how NEEDY people can be, especially when it comes to their clothes, food and money. A phenomenal novel that I am currently reading called, How To Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie, lists three main principles to remember when handling people. Dale Carnegie was an American writer and lecturer who specialized in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking and interpersonal skills. Although I do suggest that everyone reads this book at least once in their lives, I am going to spare those who simply don’t have enough time and will share these principles with you. Mind you, this book was released in 1936 so the examples are a little out-dated.


1. Don’t Criticize, Condemn, or Complain

As employees in the workplace, we often find ourselves in positions where we need to scold, correct and show some type of disapproval to others. This is an important aspect of working, especially when you are a manager, boss or CEO of a company. There are just certain responsibilities you have when dealing with others, even if it is negative things. The workplace has to run smoothly, doesn’t it? This may be true, but according to Dale Carnegie, there are better ways to handle this than most would assume. Carnegie uses an example of a criminal living in the 1930s named “Two Gun” Crowley. According to Police Commissioner E.P. Mulrooney, he was one of the most dangerous criminals he had ever encountered in New York. Before Crowley was captured, a police officer had approached Crowley, parked on a road on Long Island where he and his girlfriend were making out. When the officer asked to see Crowley’s license Crowley drew out his gun and shot the officer to death. Crowley was sentenced to the electric chair. Instead of saying to himself “This is what I get for killing people?” he said, “This is what I get for defending myself.” The point of the story is that regardless of what “Two Gun” Crowley did, he didn’t blame himself for any of it. If someone as dangerous as a criminal can’t even admit what he has done wrong, how can we expect others to do the same? Getting someone to admit they were wrong or to criticize their work will only do the other person harm to themselves.

“Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him to strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.”– Dale Carnegie

Instead, it is suggested that we put ourselves in the shoes of others in order to better understand where they are coming from. And when we see that improvements need to be made with individuals, we approach it in a kind and understanding manner. It is more useful to get on the level of others, whether is be an employee or customer, to truly see what it is they need.

“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”– Dale Carnegie

Another example Carnegie uses is that of Bob Hoover, a famous test pilot who performed in air shows. When Hoover was returning home to Los Angeles from an air show in San Diego, both engines in his plane just stopped at three hundred feet in the air. He managed to land the plane, with no injuries, but the plane itself was badly damaged. After inspecting the plane afterward, just as Hoover suspected, the plane was running on jet fuel, rather than gasoline. Immediately, Hoover asked to see the young man who had serviced his plane. As he approached him, the young mechanic with tears running down his face and a nauseous stomach, knew that he was responsible for the damage to the expensive plane and could have cost the lives of three people. Do you know what Hoover said to the young man? He wrapped his arm around him and said “To show you I’m sure that you’ll never do this again, I want you to service my F-51 tomorrow,”

You see, it is wrong to scold others of what they’ve done wrong, but to have faith that they can recover from their mistakes.We must build others up with encouragement, not tear them down with resentment.

“Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness. To know all is to forgive all.”– Dale Carnegie


2. Give Honest and Sincere Appreciation

John Dewey, one of the most profound philosophers said it exactly like it is. “The deepest urge in human nature is the desire to be important.”

Carnegie states that we as humans, cherish most things in life that we can’t be without. These include health and preservation of life, food, sleep, money and things money will buy, life in the hereafter, sexual gratification, the well-being of our children and a feeling of importance. We crave these things in our life and if we do not receive them, we know and feel that something is missing. A story that was told to Carnegie about craving importance and meaning in life, has to do with a married woman. In her life, she wanted love, sexual gratification, children and social prestige. None of which she was given. Her husband showed no love to her and would not even eat meals with her. She never had any children and never established a social standing. Because of this, she went insane. She imagined that she divorced her husband and that she had a new baby of her own every night. She told her doctor that she was married into an English aristocracy and was asked to be called “Lady Smith.” When the doctor was proposed that what had happened to her was a tragedy she simply replied; “If I could stretch out my hand and restore her sanity, I wouldn’t do it. She’s much happier as she is.”

“If some people are so hungry for a feeling of importance that they actually go insane to get it, imagine what miracle you and I can achieve by giving people honest appreciation this side of insanity.”– Dale Carnegie

Sometimes it is easy to forget to not only correct people in the workplace, but to praise them too. They need to know that their hard work isn’t going unnoticed because it makes them feel important. And when we hear this from our managers, customers or clients, we know it is sincere appreciation and that we are actually worth something. So the next time you see your employee doing something awesome for someone else or the company, make sure they get a pat on the back or even a smile. It goes a long way.


3. Arouse in the Other Person an Eager Want

If we can truly get to understand the needs and wants of others, than we will be better at whatever it is we do. A simple example that Carnegie uses is that of salesman. He states how salesman during that time were tired, frustrated, discouraged and underpaid. He believes the answer to this problem was because they were only interested in what THEY wanted. They didn’t realize that their customers do not want to buy anything, because if they did, they would go out and buy it themselves. If salesmen get to the root of what their customers want and how it can solve their problems than the customers will buy. People want to feel like they are buying, not being sold. Always approach it from the customer’s angle.

Another example of arousing a want in others, includes a father who was worried about his underweight son. The son refused to eat properly, no matter how much his mother and father begged him. The parents both scolded the boy and told him that he needed to eat them to become a strong man. This method failed and the boy continued to refuse to eat his healthy meals. Then one day the father thought to himself about how he expected him to do what a thirty-year-old wanted and not what a three-year-old wanted. Once the father thought about it, it was simple. There had been a bully in the neighborhood that would come around and pull the small three-year-old off his tricycle.The boy would come home crying to his mother, who would then tell the bully to get off the tricycle. This happened everyday. When the father explained to the boy that he would be able to stand up to the bully and potentially smash his nose so he would go away, the son no longer refused to eat his vegetables. He tried all kinds of food and was happy to eat it because he knows it would make him strong enough to stand up to the bully that humiliated him all the time. So there you have it. The boys desire for a sense of importance was the highlight of agreeing to eat properly, because he knew that the outcome would be beneficial to him.

“People who can put themselves in the place of other people, who can understand the workings of their minds, need never worry about what the future has in store for them.” – Owen D. Young, a noted lawyer and business leader

When we show others that we truly care for them, we will get much better results in the workplace. Avoiding criticism, showing appreciation and getting others to do things because it is what they want to do, will benefit not only the workplace and companies at stake, but the lives and importance of others as well. Let’s remember that the next time a problem arises. We are all emotional human creatures who all deserve the feeling of importance.



Photo courtesy of pixabay
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