There is only one way under high heave to get anybody to do anything. Did you ever stop to think of that? Yes, just one way. And that is by making the other person want to do it.
Remember, there is no other way.
Of course, you can make someone want to give you his watch by sticking a revolver in his ribs. You can make your employees give you cooperation—until your back is turned—by threatening to fire them. You can make a child do what you want it to do by a whip or a threat. But these crude methods have sharply undesirable repercussions.
The only way I can get you to do anything is by giving you what you want.
There is one longing—almost as deep, almost as imperious, at the desire for food or sleep—which is seldom gratified. It is what Freud calls ‘the desire to be great.’ It is what Dewey calls the ‘desire to be important.’
“I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people,” said Schwab, “the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.
“There is nothing else that so kills the ambitions of a person as criticisms from superiors. I never criticise anyone. I believe in giving a person incentive to work. So I am anxious to praise but loath to find fault. If I like anything, I am hearty in my approbation and lavish in my praise.”
When a study was made a few years ago on runaway wives, what do you think was discovered to be the main reason wives ran away? It was ‘lack of appreciation.’ And I’d bet that a similar study made of runaway husbands would come out the same way. We often take our spouses so much for granted that we never let them know we appreciate them.
We nourish the bodies of our children and friends and employees, but how seldom do we nourish their self-esteem? We provide them with roast beef and potatoes to build energy, but we neglect to give them kind words of appreciation that would sing in their memories for years like the music of the morning stars.
Flattery is counterfeit, and like counterfeit money, it will eventually get you into trouble if you pass it to someone else.
The difference between appreciation and flattery? That is simple. One is sincere and the other insincere. One comes form the heart out; the other from the teeth out. One is unselfish; the other selfish. One is universally admired; the other universally condemned.
When we are not engaged in thinking about some definite problem, we usually spend about 95 percent of our time thinking about ourselves. Now, if we stop thinking about ourselves for a while and begin to think of the other person’s good points, we won’t have to resort to flattery so cheap and false that it can be spotted almost before it is out of the mouth.
The next time you enjoy filet mignon at the club, send word to the chef that it was excellently prepared, and when a tired salesperson shows you unusual courtesy, please mention it.
Hurting people not only does not change them, it is never called for. There is an old saying that I have cut out and pasted on my mirror where I cannot help but see it every day:
“I shall pass this way but once; any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
Emerson said: “Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him.”
If that was true of Emerson, isn’t it likely to be a thousand times more true of you and me? Let’s cease thinking of our accomplishments, our wants. Let’s try to figure out the other person’s good points. Then forget flattery. Give honest, sincere appreciation. Be ‘hearty in your approbation and lavish in you praise,’ and people will cherish your words and treasure them and repeat them over a lifetime—repeat them years after you have forgotten them.