What is it about how we are treated and what people tell us that makes such a difference in our lives? As humans we need honest and sincere appreciation to help us simply keep our sanity. Sounds crazy but research has shown people can go insane simply looking for a feeling of appreciation.
“Why do these people go insane?” Asked Dale Carnegie
“I put that question to the head physician of one of our most important psychiatric hospitals. This doctor, who has received the highest honors and the most coveted awards for his knowledge of this subject, told me frankly that he didn’t know why people went insane. Nobody knows for sure. But he did say that many people who go insane find in insanity a feeling of importance that they were unable to achieve in the world of reality. Then he told me this story:
I have a patient right now whose marriage proved to be a tragedy. She wanted love, sexual gratification, children and social prestige, but life blasted all her hopes. Her husband didn’t love her. He refused even to eat with her and forced her to serve his meals in his room upstairs. She had no children, no social standing. She went insane; and, in her imagination, she divorced her husband and resumed her maiden name. She now believes she has married into English aristocracy, and she insists on being called Lady Smith.
And as for children, she imagines now that she has had a new child every night. Each time I call on her she says: “Doctor, I had a baby last night.”
Life once wrecked all her dream ships on the sharp rocks of reality; but in the sunny, fantasy isles of insanity, all her barkentines race into port with canvas billowing and winds singing through the masts.
Tragic? Oh, I don’t know. Her physician said to me: “If I could stretch out my hand and restore her sanity, I wouldn’t do it. She’s much happier as she is.”
If some people are so hungry for a feeling of importance that they actually go insane to get it, imagine what miracle you and I can achieve by giving people honest appreciation this side of insanity. Dale Carnegie. “How to Win Friends & Influence People.”
So how do we give honest sincere appreciation for others, can we just say nice things? What is the difference between appreciation and flattery? That is simple. One is sincere and the other insincere. One comes from the heart out; the other from the teeth out. One is unselfish; the other selfish. One is universally admired; the other universally condemned.
King George V had a set of six maxims displayed on the walls of his study at Buckingham Palace. One of these maxims said: “Teach me neither to proffer nor receive cheap praise.” That’s all flattery is—cheap praise. Here is a definition of flattery that may be worth repeating: “Flattery is telling the other person precisely what he thinks about himself.”
“Use what language you will,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson, “you can never say anything but what you are.”
If all we had to do was flatter, everybody would catch on and we should all be experts in human relations.
“I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people,” said Charles 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 criticize 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.”
That is what Schwab did. But what do average people do? The exact opposite. If they don’t like a thing, they bawl out their subordinates; if they do like it, they say nothing. As the old couplet says: “Once I did bad and that I heard ever / Twice I did good, but that I heard never.”
“In my wide association in life, meeting with many and great people in various parts of the world,” Schwab declared, “I have yet to find the person, however great or exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than he would ever do under a spirit of criticism.”
That he said, frankly, was one of the outstanding reasons for the phenomenal success of Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie praised his associates publicly as well as privately.
Carnegie wanted to praise his assistants even on his tombstone. He wrote an epitaph for himself which read: “Here lies one who knew how to get around him men who were cleverer than himself.”
Today look for things you can give honest, sincere appreciation for in your life and in others. This is another reason a gratitude list can be so powerful. Look for the best in others and that is what you will find. Remember, we always find what we are looking for in life. The laws of attention and attraction is real and we are in control of both laws.
Andrew Carnegie once stated that “men are developed the same way gold is mined. When gold is mined, several tons of dirt must be moved to get an ounce of gold, but one doesn’t go into the mine looking for dirt – one goes in looking for the gold.”