Lessons from 1936 — 3. How to win people to your way of thinking by Valerie Poort

This is a continuation of my blogging while reading the book How to win friends and influence people, originally written in 1936 by Dale Carnegie.


Principle 1: The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it

You can't win an argument. Nine times out of ten, an argument ends with each of the contestants more firmly convinced than ever that he is absolutely right.

You can't win an argument... suppose you triumph over the other man and shoot his argument full of holes and prove that he is non compos mentis. Then what? You will feel fine. But what about him? You have made him feel inferior. You have hurt is pride. He will resent your triumph. And, 'a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.'

What Carnegie is saying is don't bother arguing, especially about petty things, just to gain a sense of superiority and importance. No body wins.


Principle 2: Show respect for the other person's opinions. Never say 'you're wrong.'

There is a sure way of making enemies — one way may be 'I am going to prove so and so to you,' which sounds more like a challenge.

Galileo said 'you cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself.' Lord Chesterfield said 'be wiser than other people if you can; but do not tell them so.' Socrates said 'one thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing.'

Isn't it better to begin by saying 'well, now, look. I thought otherwise, but I may be wrong. I frequently am. And if I am wrong, I want to be put right. Let's examine the facts.' That's magic, positive. No one will object to this. 

Selling something by proving that the person has created their own problems and you're here to fix them — you're giving that person no way to graciously admit what they've done wrong. Instead, allowing the person to figure it out for themselves, and then talking together about solutions — that's the way to influence. 'In other words, don't argue with your customer or your spouse or your adversary. Don't tell them they are wrong, don't get them stirred up. Use a little diplomacy.'


Principle 3: If you are wrong, admit it quickly and empathetically.

If you're wrong, admit it. If we know we're going to be rebuked anyhow, isn't it far better to bear the other person to it and do it ourselves? Isn't it much easier to listen to self criticism than to bear condemnation from alien lips? 

Carnegie's advice is to say about yourself all the derogatory things you know the other person is thinking or wants to say or intends to say — and then say them. The chances are a hundred to one that a generous, forgiving attitude will be taken and your mistakes minimised.

For example, when some irritated reader write in to say that he didn't agree with such and such an article and ended by calling Hubbard this and that, Elbert Hubbard would answer like this: Come to think it over, I don't entirely agree with it myself. Not everything I wrote yesterday appeals to me today. I am glad to learn what you think on the subject. The next time you are in the neighbourhood you must visit us and we'll get this subject threshed out for all time. So here is a handclap over the miles, and I am, your sincerely—


Principle 4: Begin in a friendly way

Years ago... I read a fable about the sun and the wind. They quarrelled about which was the stronger, and the wind said 'I'll prove I am. See the old man down there with a coat? I bet I can get his coat off him quicker than you can.' So the sun went behind a cloud, and the wind blew until it was almost a tornado, but the harder it blew, the tighter the old man clutched his coat to him. Finally, the wind calmed down and gave up, and then the sun came out from behind the clouds and smiled kindly on the old man. Presently, he mopped his brow and pulled off his coat. The sun then told the wind that gentleness and friendliness were always stronger than fury and force.

Principle 5: Get the other person saying 'yes, yes' immediately

In talking with people, don't begin by discussing the thing on which you differ. Begin by emphasising — and keep on emphasising — the things on which you agree. Keep emphasising, if possible, that you are both striving for the same end and that your only different is one of method and not of purpose. Get the other person saying 'yes, yes' at the outset. Keep your opponent, if possible, from saying 'no'.

Apparently, this is the secret of Socrates. He asked questions with which his opponent would have to agree. He kept on winning one admission after another until finally, almost without realising it, his opponents found themselves embracing a conclusion they would have bitterly denied a few minutes previously. 


Principle 6: Let the other person do a great deal of the talking

Let the other people talk themselves out. They know more about their business and problems than you do. So ask questions. Let them tell you a few things. 


Principle 7: Let the other person feel the idea is his or hers

No one likes to feel that he or she is being sold something or told to do a thing. We prefer to feel that we are buying of our own accord or acting on our own ideas. We like to be consulted about our wishes, our wants, our thoughts. This principle is often linked to getting cooperation in people.

...the more I studied it, the more I discovered for myself how much I liked it. No body had tried to sell it to me. I felt that the idea of buying that equipment for the hospital was entirely my own. I sold myself on its superior qualities and ordered it installed.

Carnegie suggests the best way to convert him to an idea was to plant it in his mind casually, but so as to interest him in it — so as to get him thinking about it on his own account.

I studied advertising for a few years during university, and this sounds like the 'aha' moment — letting the person try to figure out an ad for themselves to they are more inclined to liking the product.


Principle 8: Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view

Cooperativeness in conversation is achieved when you show that you consider the other person's ideas and feelings as important as your own. 

Tomorrow, before asking anyone to put out a fire or buy your product or contribute to your favourite charity, why not pause and close your eyes and try to think to whole thing through from another person's point of view? Ask yourself: 'Why should he or she want to do it?' True, this will take time, but it will avoid making enemies and will get better results — and with less friction and less shoe leather. 


Principle 9: Be sympathetic with the other person's needs and desires

I don't blame you one iota for feeling as you do. If I were you I would undoubtedly feel just as you do.

Carnagie claims that this is a magic phrase which will 'soften even the most cantankerous old cuss alive' — because it's true. Of course if you were the other person, you would feel like them. 


Principle 10: Appeal to nobler motives

All people you meet probably have a high regard for themselves and like to be fine and unselfish in their own estimation.

A person usually has two reasons for doing something — one that sounds good, and a real one. We need to identify that real reason in order to understand that person. Or we need to communicate it in our reasoning so people can understand us and our motives — for example, asking the paper to take down a picture we didn't like, because we wouldn't want our mothers to see it. Appealing to much nobler motives. Talking about that, rather than the problem they think they have with you.


Principle 11: Dramatise your ideas

The movies do it. Tv does it. Why don't you do it? 

This is the day of dramatisation. Merely stating a truth isn't enough. The truth has to be made vivid, interesting, dramatic. You have to use showmanship. The movies do it. Television does it. And you will have to do it if you want attention.  

This reminds me about doing something different — it's dramatic, and captures attention. 


Principle 12: Throw down a challenge

When nothing else works, try this. Throw down a challenge. The way to get things done is to stimulate competition. I do not mean in a sordid, money-getting way, but in the desire to excel.

Lessons from 1936 — 2. Six ways to make people like you by Valerie Poort

This is a continuation of my blogging while reading the book How to win friends and influence people, originally written in 1936 by Dale Carnegie.


Principle 1: Become genuinely interested in other people

Apparently, being genuinely interested in other people is one of the most important skills you can possess. It shows you're not just interested in them for selfish reasons, but that you're genuinely interested in benefiting the both of you. In a perfect world, what kind of person would want something different than the latter outcome? The interest has to be genuine and sincere — it must benefit both people.

You win more friends by becoming interested in people, than you can trying to get other people interested in you — 'we're interested in others when they're interested in us.'

If we do things for others, if we're interested in others, we make friends. How can we do this? By putting time, energy, unselfishness, and thoughtfulness into others. Greet people with interest — with enthusiasm and animation. 


Principle 2: Smile

A simple way to make a good first impression is with a smile. The action of a smile speaks much louder than words. It says: 'I like you, you make me happy, I'm glad to see you.'

Happiness completely depends on how we decide to feel. It depends on inner conditions and not outward conditions. If we act happy, before long we will feel happy. Thought is supreme.

Whenever you go out-of-doors, draw the chin in, carry the crown of the head high, and fill the lungs to the utmost; drink in the sunshine; greet your friends with a smile, and put soul into every handclasp. Do not fear being misunderstood and do not waste a minute thinking about your enemies. Try to fix firmly in your mind on the great and splendid things you would like to do, and then, as the days go gliding away, you will find yourself unconsciously seizing upon the opportunities that are required for the fulfilment of your desire.

Principle 3: Remember that a persons name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language

Here's a fun fact: The average person is more interested in his or her own name than in all the other names on earth put together. Remember that name and call it easily, and you have paid a subtle and very effective compliment. 

How do we remember a name?

  • Napoleon would, upon meeting someone, repeat the other persons name a few times in conversation, and associate it in his mind with the persons features, expressions, and general appearance. If he didn't hear the name properly, he said, 'I'm sorry, I didn't get the name clearly.' Then, if it was an unusual name, he would say 'How is it spelled?'
  • Franklin D Roosevelt made friends with everybody he met, by remembering and using their names — even years after they'd last seen each other
  • James Farley would find out the other persons complete name, some facts about his or her family, business, and political opinions. He would then, a year later, shake hands, inquire about family, and 'ask about the hollyhocks in the backyard'

Principle 4: Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

Listen to people. This is a really good and easy way to become a good conversationalist. Listen to the other person, and figure out when they're really just wanting to talk to you, rather than you talk to them.

Being a good listener involves listening with the ears, listening with the eyes, and listening with the brain, 'people are so much concerned with what they are going to say next they do not keep their ears open... the ability to listen seems rarer than almost any other good trait.'

When I conduct customer research, it involves a lot of listening. It's important I listen correctly, otherwise people won't respect me, trust me, or open up to me. Even if our interviews are dealing with difficult subject matter, people come away from interviews extremely positive, as they've been listened to.

This afternoon, I applied this principle in practice. It worked a charm. Somebody asked me how my weekend was, and I proceeded to chat away... then I remembered this principle, and abruptly stopped talking, turning attention to the other persons weekend. She talked and talked — I gathered she was interested in art history, and asked her if this was a hobby. She ended up talking for another 5 minutes or so before she realised she had to get back to her presentation.


Principle 5: Talk in terms of the other persons interests

This principle is closely related to the fourth, and seems to go a step further. Researching and finding out what interests people, and then talking with them about their interests, is a definite way to make people like you. Talk to people about themselves, and they will listen for hours. 


Principle 6: Make the other person feel important — and do it sincerely

Carnegie recounts a story where he once complimented a post office clerk by admiring his hair — which made the clerk insurance react positively to Carnegie. Others have since asked him 'What did you want to get out of him?' To which he inredecously replies 'if we are so contemplty selfish that we can't radiate a little happiness and pass on a bit of honest appreciation without trying to get something out of the other person in return... we shall meet with the failure we do richly deserve.'

We're now, once again, reminded that 'the deepest principle of human nature is the craving to be appreciated' and the deepest urge is to feel important. These urges have been responsible for civilisation itself. 

Little phrases such as 'I'm sorry to trouble you,' 'would to be so kind to—?,' 'would you please?,' 'Would you mind?,' 'Thank you' — little courtesies like these pop the cogs of the monotonous grind of the everyday life — and, incidentally, they are the hallmark of good breeding. They show others respect. 

After a few stories of people who got what they wished for, Carnagie sums them up saying 'such is the power, the stupendous power, of sincere, heartfelt appreciation.'

Lessons from 1936 — 1. Fundamental techniques in handling people by Valerie Poort

This is a continuation of my blogging while reading the book How to win friends and influence people, originally written in 1936 by Dale Carnegie.


Principle 1: Don't criticise, condemn, or complain.

Carnagie sums up one of Lincoln's most defining moments, recounting that Lincoln 'almost never criticised anybody for anything again.' Lincoln says 'if I send this letter, it will relieve my feelings, but it will make Meade try and justify himself. It will make him condemn me.' Lincoln had learned from the experience that 'sharp criticisms and rebukes almost end invariably in futility.' Instead of criticising or highlighting faults in people, try to speak all the good you can of people. I'd hazard a guess that in reality, good things happen far more often than anything we could criticise, but it's built into human nature to only notice those bad things. This is a reminder to adjust how we look at the world.

Bad things happen when we critisize others. 'When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice and motivated by pride and vanity.' If we try and understand what drives this emotion, this pride and vanity, we can try to figure out why they do what they do. 

We all thirst approval. This leads us nicely into the second principle...


Principle 2: Give honest and sincere appreciation

Chapter two opens with a reminder that there is no other way than to have somebody do something for you then making them want to do it. Making someone feel important (Dewey), making them feel great (Freud), or making them feel complimented and appreciated (James). People crave this. How people get their feeling of importance, Carnegie says, determines their character. For example, one person may feel importantdonating millions towards building a hospital for thousands of poverty stricken children, while another may feel important robbing banks and being considered public enemy number one. 

Carnegie shows an example of an incredibly successful American businessman, who was 'hearty in his appreciation and lavish in his praise'. Just as people crave to feel important, they crave appreciation. He warns to not confuse appreciation with flattery — the difference being simply that one is sincere, and one is insincere.

It's true that people are starved of appreciation. I can think of a handful of instances today during the day where I could have been let the other know how appreciative I was of them. A lesson from this chapter is to acknowledge what people are doing, thank them, appreciate them and their effort, whether at work or at home. 


Principle 3: Arouse in the other person an eager want

"I often went fishing up in Maine during the summer. Personally I am very fond of strawberries and cream, but I have found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms. So when I went fishing, I didn't think about what I wanted. I thought about what they wanted. I didn't bait the hook with strawberries and cream. Rather, I dangled a worm or a grasshopper in front of the fish and said wouldn't you like to have that?".

This is an excellent way to introduce Carnagies point of influencing people by talking about what they want and showing them how to get it, but also of thinking from someone else's point of view — which is something I try do daily in my work, thinking from someone's else's point of view.

Arguing with someone to get what you want is fruitless. Instead, try and think of what the other person wants, and what is motivating their decisions. Expose this, talk about this, and you might be able to come to a win win situation. 

So simply — how do you go about making someone do something? Make them want to do it. Henry Ford once said "If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other persons point of view and see things from that persons angle as well as from your own."

Of course, this shouldn't be seen as manipulative — if it's creating a win win situation for both people, it can only be beneficial.

Lessons from 1936 — In writing by Valerie Poort

In May last year, when I started at Internal Affairs, I quickly realised something key. Approximately 10% of my job was using the specialist academic skills I'd learned at university... while the other 90% of my job was working with people. As Dale Carnegie opens in his book How to win friends and influence people, "the person who has technical knowledge plus the ability to express ideas, assume leadership, and to around enthusiasm amongst people — that person is headed for higher earning power." This key skill of human engineering — the "personality and the ability to lead people," doesn't seem to have changed one bit since the book was published eighty years ago.

As I read through this book, I want to blog. Not only will this reinforce the valuable parts of this influential book, but hopefully it'll be valuable to anyone who reads this.

Start Up Weekend Environment by Valerie Poort

What can you do in 54 hours? Share ideas, meet a team, and be mentored by the industry's finest at Startup Weekend Wellington; where you’ll find the tools to design and build a new product, service or business in the space of a single, fast-paced weekend. 

Design for Social Innovation by Valerie Poort

(On a side note, I do admit that I write this almost two months after the symposium took place. Seems that I needed those that time to reflect! But that’s ok; it just shows how what I learnt has stuck with me all this time).

More than a few things blew my mind in two days. As someone who has just graduated design school – learned the academics and the methodology of what I do – I’m still very much imitating what I observe. As I practice what everyone around me does, I question why I do things, I see what’s not working… (I’m not sure if that’s just me, or more common).

I volunteered to help out (thanks to Rachel Knight and Billy Matheson) at the two-day Design for Social Innovation symposium, which took place mid-July; this time in Wellington. The symposium gathered a community of practitioners who contributed their thoughts on what is archaic, dominant, and emergent about what we do.

Don’t you love those mind-boggling moments when you learn something and everything just clicks? This happens to me a lot at conferences. And this symposium – which, comparatively, sounds much less boring! – certainly didn’t disappoint.

One epiphany I had was during our welcoming into and opening of the symposium. Many customs and practices from Māori culture were embedded here. Everyone was grounded – reminded of where we were physically, what we were there for, who we were. We also indulged in morning tea and chatted with our neighbours. Simple and powerful.

Two inspirational keynotes followed, to set up the rest of the two days. Christian Perry, Director of Toi Whaakari, showed us how his school had become truly bicultural. One way they did this was not ‘doing’ Māori for the sake of it. It meant using kaupapa Māori only if it improved on how things were already being done.

I was thankful that the symposium wasn’t two days of talking the talk. A lot of talks were geared towards the practical, the ‘so what does this mean’, and the ‘so how do we do this.’ Many workshops during the two days were people sharing real techniques with other people. 

To start off day two, Keriata Stuart took us through a mindfulness exercise. For at least 10 minutes, everyone in the room sat with their eyes closed, listening to the words Keriata was speaking. A moving reminder of the importance of breathing, taking a break, standing back, and observing. This, she reminded us, was exactly what we were doing by attending the symposium.

Most importantly, I’ve connected into a community of passionate practitioners, which has been invaluable. They’ve helped me glimpse into places where I could definitely find more and more of my purpose. But also they’ve helped me realise that my purpose will change all the time (thanks for that Noel Brown!). 

This note was scribbled at the back of my notebook, “nothing is perfect. You have to start somewhere. You can always go back. Nothing is ever good enough. It is going to need to be good enough. Good enough is enough.” I don’t know whether someone said that, or whether it was my brain, or somewhere in between.