The first rule

How to win friends and influence people has changed how I view the world and how I interact with people and as such I believe it’s only fitting that the first Michael Principal be stolen straight from the book.

Do not criticize, condemn or complain.

It’s such a simple rule yet so bloody difficult to follow.

Human beings are emotional creatures, most of the time we operate based on how we feel and not what is logical. It appears we are more Kurt than Spock. However we love to think of ourselves as rational logical beings meaning when we make emotional decisions we want to believe that those decisions were made logically and as such we rationalize and explain our actions.

We attempt justify our actions to ourselves and to others and will rarely believe our actions to be wrong or unjust. It’s quite rare to find a person who after they do something, they look at their action and think I wasn’t justified in my actions.

We just love to be right, and to hell with anyone who says we are wrong.

The first rule acknowledges this failing in us and seeks to remedy it and since it’s impractical to change others, the first rule strives to change us.

Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify themselves. Criticism is dangerous because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts their sense of importance and arouses resentment.

Dale Carnegie

My name is Michael and I’m guilty of criticizing, condemning and complaining.

I have a huge problem in that I like love to be right. I will argue my case because I believe that if you aren’t agreeing with me then you are wrong and I can convince you to do so. I have an even bigger problem which is I love to fault find. I can see the things others do to me and I know how they can change to solve the issue and make my life better but I have a tendency to ignore the effect my actions have on others.

From the above paragraph I’m sure it’s not hard to figure out that I do not have the best relationships with people. I think every single one of my ex-girlfriends has complained about me at one time or another and I have no doubt that this is the main reason I only have 4 close friends, the rest, I’m sorry, are just people I know.

When I picked up Dale Carnegie’s book I thought it was a list of ways to win arguments, to force people to see my view since I knew better. The first chapter stopped me cold and changed me a lot. That’s why out of all books I’ve read after and all the principals I’m picking up as I go along this rule will always be rule number one for me.

I still have not become the perfect practitioner of this rule and I make a lot of mistakes but I will keep practicing until one day it becomes easier and more natural than breathing. I cannot change others, so I will settle for changing myself.

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