Day 88. Let the other person save face.


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 88.  Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Today I was reviewing the task list and noticed that “Bob” a contract employee had not submitted his work.  Although he has known about the assignment for at least a month and a half he missed the deadline.  He didn’t even contact me to let me know there was a problem or that the assignment would be turned in late.  Nothing! 

I knew this was an opportunity for a particular Dale Carnegie principle that I’m not very good at using.  So I decided to send Bob an email:

Hi Bob,
I wanted to check in with you and see how you are coming along on the XYZ project.  I can’t wait to see it.  Send me an email when you get a chance.   

Sincerely,
Smiling Daffodil. 

——
I heard from Bob right away:

“Dear Smiling Daffodil,
I am ashamed to say I didn’t complete the task.  I’ve been burdened trying to figure out how to complete it.  I feel really bad about it—it’s not my best work.  I have attached a preview of what I have done so far—tell me the truth—if you think I should throw it away and start over let me know.

Very sincerely,
Bob-who-didn’t-complete-his-task-and-feels-bad-about-being-the-difficult-contract-employee”

——
Well—how could I not smile with such a funny and overly dramatic email from Bob? 

He offered some other details about why he was having a hard time with the assignment.  Having this information served two purposes.  I was able to get all the facts before jumping to the wrong conclusion that Bob was just a careless, irresponsible employee.  And I was able to give Bob some encouragement and the opportunity to save face.

My response to Bob:
Dear Bob,
I am sorry you struggled with this assignment!  I reviewed what you sent and so far it looks great!  Yes, please go ahead and complete the assignment—but work at your own pace and once you are finished I will find make sure we use your work.

Sincerely,
Smiling Daffodil

I also volunteered some tips by pointing to my own challenges and struggles with similar projects. 

Bob responded and expressed great relief and appreciation for the tips.  He also told me he will finish the task and submit his work by the end of the week.

The Dale Carnegie principles I used in this story are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Get all the facts.
Let the other person save face.

Let the other person save face

I chose not to send a frustrated or angry email to Bob explaining how his delay has caused challenges for me.  Bob has his own concerns—he probably doesn’t care about mine.  So I decided to get all the facts before making assumptions.  When I did this—I was able to learn that Bob was discouraged with his work and I was able to give him the encouragement he needed to complete the assignment.

So remember, while it is easy to jump to conclusions—don’t.  Get all the facts first.  Treat individuals with respect and don’t belittle them as you get all the facts.  When you do this you will discover ways to give them the encouragement they need to willingly complete their work. 

Housekeeping / Notes:

  • In light of today’s blog topic I feel the need to confess.  My posts are technically a day off.  I’m a night owl—by the time I write my blog about the day’s events it’s technically the next morning—usually 1 or 2 am.  Let’s just continue to go with my delusions.  In my world I make my deadlines….
  • With that said, Wednesday marks an important day for a very special guest blogger.  I’m so excited to share the story and technically it’s ready to be posted…. but I’m going to make everyone wait until Wednesday evening.  So do your evening routine, have dinner, etc and then tune in for a very high quality story from a friend and role model.  I am certain his story will impact you. 

Thank you everyone!

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