When Richard Branson, founder and chairperson of the Virgin Group, was seven years old, he took some 50 pence in loose change from his father’s table and walked over to a candy store. The shopkeeper suspected Richard and wanted to call his mischief. The shopkeeper called Richard Branson’s father and asked him to come down to the store. The shopkeeper told the dad, “I assume your son has taken this, that you didn’t give it to him?” Richard Branson’s dad seemed irritated at this suggestion. He retorted back to the shopkeeper, “How dare you accuse him of stealing!” Although the senior Branson knew Richard had taken the 50 pence, he avoided humiliating his son in the open. Back home, Richard Branson admitted he had taken the coins from his dad and swore never to take money again without permission.
Idea for Impact
Most people are conscientious enough to recognize their mistakes. They do not want to be humiliated or shamed in the presence of peers and team members. Nor do not need their managers, parents, or other authority figures to ram mistakes down their throats.
When you think you can nail someone’s mistake in the open, take a breather and give a face-saving opportunity for the other. Avoid the temptation to put them down in public. In the privacy of one-on-one meetings, listen to their points of view, describe the impact of their ideas and behaviors, encourage them to reflect on their mistakes, and correct themselves.