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.