In his book, â€śHow to Develop Self Confidence & Influence People by Public Speaking,â€ť Dale Carnegie tells the story of Lyman Abbott, who was invited to speak in the pulpit left silent after the death of Henry Ward Beecher, a prominent Congregationalist clergyman, social reformer, abolitionist, and speaker in the mid to late 19th century.
Eager to do his best, Abbott wrote, rewrote, and meticulously polished his sermon. Then he read it to his wife. It was poorâ€”as most written speeches are. She might have said, if she had had less judgment, â€śLyman, that is terrible. Thatâ€™ll never do. Youâ€™ll put people to sleep. It reads like an encyclopedia. You ought to know better than that after all the years you have been preaching. For heavenâ€™s sake, why donâ€™t you talk like a human being? Why donâ€™t you act natural? Youâ€™ll disgrace yourself if you ever read that stuff.â€ť
If Abbottâ€™s wife had reacted that way she mightâ€™ve destroyed his self-confidence and embarrassed him to the point where he may have declined on giving the sermon. But instead, she merely remarked that it would make an excellent article for the North American Review. In other words, she praised it and at the same time subtly suggested that it wouldnâ€™t do as a speech. Lyman Abbott saw the point, tore up his carefully prepared manuscript, and preached without even using notes.
Remember, an effective way to correct othersâ€™ mistakes is to call attention to peopleâ€™s mistakes indirectly. Hereâ€™s an example of this important principle in action from your friends at Dale Carnegie Training of North Dakota:
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