Day 45: Abraham Lincoln kept me from getting into a fight via email.

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 45.  Monday, May 9, 2011
I sent an email to Bob today:
Hi Bob,
I’m putting together a marketing campaign for the soon to be released product XYZ.  I am hoping you can assist me.  Do you have a promo available for the product?  I’d love to put it on our website.

Thank you!
Smiling Daffodil.

Bob’s response:
Hi Smiling Daffodil,
I have attached a photo showing the CD your office should have received back in March.  Let me know if you are unable to locate the CD—if you can’t, I guess I can send you the very last CD I have.


It was at this point I decided to take a break and go get some chocolate.  As you can imagine—my natural instinct was to email Bob a snide remark or two or three.  Instead I remembered Dale Carnegie quoting Abraham Lincoln, “Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.”

After going out to get some fresh air and some chocolate I decided the best approach is to not respond to Bob today.  I have also come up with material I can use for the marketing campaign that doesn’t interrupt Bob’s busy schedule. 

The Dale Carnegie principle I used in this example is from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 26.  Let the other person save face.

The background to the story—the CD that Bob sent back in March was lost by an associate.  I didn’t want to throw my associate under the bus.  Before my associate accidentally misplaced the CD, I did review it—and it wasn’t a promo video.  In addition—I didn’t point out to Bob that he could easily copy the CD.  Or even ftp the files to the server.  These were all glaringly obvious options to someone who is moderately tech savvy but I concluded from Bob’s email that he wasn’t too skilled in these areas.  So I have opted to gather marketing materials from other sources.

The lesson I want you to take from this story—it can be difficult dealing with people with skill levels and aptitudes that may not be on par with yours.  There’s no point in making them feel small, incapable or inferior.  Remind yourself that they are probably very skilled and have great abilities in other areas.  In fact, they probably excel in areas that you do not.  When you take this approach you are able to stay focused on getting work done without wasting time on pettiness, negativity or blame.