How to Win Friends and Influence People
Principle 1: Don’t Criticize, Condemn or Complain
Al Capone—the most sinister gang leader who ever shot up Chicago—once said, “I have spent the best years of my life giving people the lighter pleasures, helping them have a good time, and all I get is abuse, the existence of a hunted man.” Capone didn’t condemn himself. He actually regarded himself as a public benefactor—an unappreciated and misunderstood public benefactor. If someone like Al Capone doesn’t blame himself for anything, what about the people with whom you and I come in contact?
Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, people don’t criticize themselves for anything, no matter how wrong it may be. Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes them strive to justify themselves. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts their sense of importance, and arouses resentment.
B. F. Skinner, the world-famous psychologist, proved through his experiments that an animal rewarded for good behavior will learn much more rapidly and retain what it learns far more effectively than an animal punished for bad behavior. Later studies have shown that the same applies to humans. By criticizing, we do not make lasting changes and often incur resentment. People thirst for approval and dread condemnation. The resentment that criticism engenders can demoralize employees, family members and friends, and still not correct the situation that has been condemned. It is human nature for people to blame everybody but themselves. We are all like that. So, when you and I are tempted to criticize someone tomorrow, let’s remember Al Capone. Let’s realize that the person we are going to correct and condemn will probably justify himself or herself and condemn us in return.
One of Abraham Lincoln’s favorite quotations was “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” When Mrs. Lincoln and others spoke harshly of the southern people, Lincoln replied “Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.” The next time we are tempted to admonish somebody let’s ask, “how would Lincoln handle this problem if he had it?”
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 prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity. Bitter criticism caused the sensitive Thomas Hardy, one of the finest English literature novelists ever, to give up forever the writing of fiction. Criticism drove Thomas Chatterton, the English poet, to suicide.
Benjamin Franklin, tactless in his youth, became so diplomatic, so adroit at handling people, that he was made American Ambassador to France. The secret of his success? “I will speak ill of no man,” he said, “… and speak all the good I know of anybody.” Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving. “A great man shows his greatness,” said Carlyle, “by the way he treats little men.”
Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness. “To know all is to forgive all.” God himself does not propose to judge man until the end of his days. Why should you and I?
Principle 2: Give Honest and Sincere Appreciation
There is only one way under high heaven to get anybody to do anything. And that is by making the other person want to do it. Of course, you can make someone want to give you their watch by sticking a revolver in their ribs. You can make your employees give you cooperation—until your back is turned—by threatening to fire them. You can make a child do what you want it to do by a whip or a threat. But these crude methods have sharp undesirable repercussions. The only way I can get you to do anything is really by giving you what you want. What do you want?
Sigmund Freud said that everything you and I do springs from two motives: the sex urge and the desire to be great. John Dewey, one of America’s most profound philosophers, phrased it a bit differently. Dr. Dewey said that the deepest urge in human nature is “the desire to be important.” Remember that phrase: “the desire to be important.” It is significant.
Lincoln once began a letter saying: “Everybody likes a compliment.” William James said: “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” The desire for a feeling of importance is one of the chief distinguishing differences between mankind and the animals. If our ancestors hadn’t had this flaming urge for a feeling of importance, civilization would have been impossible. Without it, we should have been just about like animals.
It was this desire for a feeling of importance that led an uneducated, poverty-stricken grocery clerk to study some law books he found in the bottom of a barrel of household plunder that he had bought for fifty cents. You have probably heard of this grocery clerk. His name was Lincoln.
It was the desire for a feeling of importance that inspired Dickens to write his immortal novels. This desire inspired Sir Christopher Wren to design his symphonies in stone. This desire made Rockefeller amass millions that he never spent! And this same desire made the richest family in your town by a house far too large for its requirements. This desire makes you want to wear the latest styles, drive the latest cars, and talk about your brilliant children. It is also this desire that lures many boys and girls into joining gangs and engaging in criminal activities.
If you tell me how you get your feeling of importance, I’ll tell you what you are. That determines your character. That is the most significant thing about you. For example, John D. Rockefeller got his feeling of importance by giving money to erect a modern hospital in Peking, China, to care for millions of poor people whom he had never seen and never would see. Dillinger, on the other hand, got his feeling of importance by being a bandit, a bank robber and killer. When the FBI agents were hunting him, he dashed into a farmhouse up in Minnesota and said, “I’m Dillinger!” He was proud of the fact that he was Public Enemy Number One.
History sparkles with amusing examples of famous people struggling for a feeling of importance. Even George Washington wanted to be called “His Mightiness, the President of the United States”; and Columbus pleaded for the title “Admiral of the Ocean and Viceroy of India.” Victor Hugo aspired to have nothing less than the city of Paris renamed in his honor. Even Shakespeare, the mightiest of the mighty, tried to add luster to his name by procuring a coat of arms for his family.
People sometimes become invalids in order to win sympathy and attention and get a feeling of importance. Some authorities declare that people may actually go insane in order to find, in the dreamland of insanity, the feeling of importance that has been denied them in the harsh world of reality. 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.
One of the first people in American business to be paid a salary of over a million dollars a year was Charles Schwab. He had been picked by Andrew Carnegie to become the first president of the newly formed United States Steel Company in 1921, when Schwab was only thirty-eight years old. Why did Andrew Carnegie pay a million dollars a year to Charles Schwab? Because Schwab was a genius? No. Because he knew more about the manufacture of steel than other people? Nonsense. Schwab said himself that he had many men working for him who knew more about the manufacture of steel than he did. Schwab says that he was paid this salary largely because of his ability to deal with people. When asked how he did it, here is his secret in his own words—words that will all but transform your life and mine if we will only live them:
“I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people 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.”
This 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.
“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 their station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than they 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:”
When Alfred Lunt, one of the great actors of his time, played the leading role in Reunion in Vienna, he said, “There is nothing I need so much as nourishment for my self-esteem.” We nourish the bodies of our children and friends and employees, but how seldom do we nourish their self-esteem? Showing sincere appreciation can change a person’s life. This is very different from flatter. Flattery is shallow, selfish, and insincere. It ought to fail and usually does. True, some people are so hungry for appreciation that they will swallow anything, just as a starving man will eat grass and fishworms. However, in the long run, flattery will do you more harm than good. Flattery is counterfeit, and like counterfeit money, it will eventually get you into trouble if you pass it to someone else.
The difference between appreciation and flattery is that 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. Flattery is just cheap praise. It is telling the other person precisely what they think about themselves. If all we had to do was flatter, everybody would catch on and we should all be experts in human relations.
When were not engaged in thinking about some definite problem, we usually spend about 95% of our time thinking about ourselves. Now, if we stop thinking about ourselves for a while and begin to think of the other person’s good points, we won’t have to resort to flattery so cheap and false that it can be spotted almost before it is out of the mouth.
One of the most neglected virtues of our daily existence is appreciation. Somehow, we neglect to praise our son or daughter when he or she brings home a good report card, and we fail to encourage our children when they first succeed in baking a cake or building a birdhouse. Nothing pleases children more than this kind of parental interest and approval.
The next time you enjoy filet mignon at the club, send word to the chef that it was excellently prepared. And when a tired salesperson shows you unusual courtesy, please mention it. In our interpersonal relations we should never forget that all our associates are human beings and hunger for appreciation. It is the legal tender that all souls enjoy.
Hurting people not only does not change them, but it is never called for. Emerson said: “Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him.” If that was true of Emerson, isn’t it likely to be a thousand times more true of you and me? Let’s cease thinking of our accomplishments, our wants. Let’s try to figure out the other person’s good points. Then forget flattery. Give honest, sincere appreciation. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise,” and people will cherish your words and treasure them and repeat them over a lifetime—repeat them years after you have forgotten them.
Principle 3: Arouse in the Other Person an Eager Want
When someone asked Lloyd George—Great Britain’s Prime Minister during World War I—once said that if his managing to stay on top for so long might be attributed to any one thing, it would be to his having learned that it was necessary to bait the hook to suit the fish. Why talk about what we want? That is childish. Absurd. Of course, you are interested in what you want. You are eternally interested in it. But no one else is. The rest of us are just like you: we are interested in what we want. So, the only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.
Remember that tomorrow when you are trying to somebody to do something. If, for example, you don’t want your children to smoke, don’t preach at them, and don’t talk about what you want; but show them that cigarettes may keep them from making the basketball team or winning the hundred-yard dash. Harry A. Overstreet, in his book Influencing Human Behavior said: “Action springs out of what we fundamentally desire . . . and the best piece of advice which can be given to would-be persuaders, whether in business, in the home, in the school, in politics, is: First, arouse in the other person an eager want. He who can do this has the whole world with him. He who cannot walks a lonely way.”
Tomorrow you may want to persuade somebody to do something. Before you speak, pause and ask yourself: “How can I make this person want to do it?” That question will stop us from rushing into a situation heedlessly, with futile chatter about our desires.
Here is one of the best bits of advice ever given about the fine art of human relationships. “If there is any one secret of success,” said Henry Ford, “it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.” That is so simple, so obvious, that anyone ought to see the truth of it at a glance; yet 90% of the people on this earth ignore it 90% of the time.
Thousands of salespeople are pounding the pavements today, tired, discouraged, and underpaid. Why? Because they are always thinking only of what they want. They don’t realize that neither you nor I want to buy anything. If we did, we would go out and buy it. But both of us are eternally interested in solving our problems. And if salespeople can show us how their services or merchandise will help us solve our problems, they won’t need to sell us. We’ll buy. And customers like to feel that they are buying—not being sold. Yet many salespeople spend a lifetime in selling without seeing things from the customer’s angle.
The most important thing to get out of this book is an increased tendency to think always in terms of other people’s point of view and see things from their angle.
Looking at the other person’s point of view and arousing in them an eager want for something is not to be construed as manipulating that person so that they will do something that is only for your benefit and their detriment. Each party should gain from the negotiation.
William Winter once remarked that “self-expression is the dominant necessity of human nature.” Why can’t we adapt this same psychology to business dealings? When we have a brilliant idea, instead of making others think it is ours, why not let them cook and stir the idea themselves. They will then regard it as their own; they will like it and maybe eat a couple helpings of it.
Remember: “First, arouse in the other person an eager want. He who can do this has the whole world with him. He who cannot walks a lonely way.”
Principle 4: Become Genuinely Interested in Other People
When trying to find out how to win friends, why not study the technique of the greatest winner of friends the world has ever known? Who is he? You may meet him tomorrow coming down the street. When you get within ten feet of him, he will begin to wag his tail. If you stop and pat him, he will almost jump out of his skin to show you how much he likes you. And you know that behind this show of affection on his part, there are no ulterior motives: he doesn’t want to sell you any real estate, and he doesn’t want to marry you.
Did you ever stop to think that a dog is the only animal that doesn’t have to work for a living? A hen has to lay eggs, a cow has to give milk, and a canary has to sing. But a dog makes his living by giving you nothing but love. Dogs never had to read a book on psychology. They know by some divine instinct that you can make more friends in two months by becoming genuinely interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. That’s worth repeating:
You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.
And yet too many people blunder through life trying to wigwag other people into becoming interested in them. Of course, it doesn’t work. People are not interested in you. They are not interested in me. They are interested in themselves—morning, noon, and after dinner. When you see a group photograph that you are in, whose picture do you look for first?
If we merely try to impress people and get people interested in us, we will never have many true, sincere friends. Friends—real friends—are not made that way. Napoleon tried it, and in his last meeting with Josephine he said: “Josephine, I have been as fortunate as any man ever was on this earth; and yet, at this hour, you are the only person in the world on whom I can rely.” And historians doubt whether he could rely even on her.
Alfred Adler, the famous Viennese psychologist, wrote a book entitled What Life Should Mean to You. In that book, he says: “It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others. It is from among such individuals that all human failures spring.”
This was one of the secrets of Theodore Roosevelt’s astonishing popularity. Even his servants loved him. His valet, James E. Amos wrote a book about him entitled Theodore Roosevelt, Hero to His Valet. In that book, Amos relates this illuminating incident:
My wife one time asked the president about a bobwhite. She had never seen one and he described it to her fully. Sometime later, the telephone at our cottage rang. [Amos and his wife lived in a little cottage on the Roosevelt estate at Oyster Bay.] My wife answered it and it was Mr. Roosevelt himself. He had called her, he said, to tell her that there was a bobwhite outside her window and that if she would look out she might see it. Little things like that were so characteristic of him. Whenever he went by our cottage, even though we were out of sight, we would hear him call out: “Oo-oo-oo, Annie?” or “Oo-oo-oo, James!” It was just a friendly greeting as he went by.
How could employees keep from liking a man like that? How could anyone keep from liking him? His honest liking for humble people was shown by the fact that he greeted all the old White House servants by name, even the scullery maids.
One can also win the attention and time and cooperation of even the most sought-after people by becoming genuinely interested in them. All of us, be we workers in a factory, clerks in an office or even a king upon his throne—all of us like people who admire us. If we want to make friends, let’s put ourselves out to do things for other people—things that require time, energy, unselfishness and thoughtfulness.
If we want to make friends, let’s great people with animation and enthusiasm. When somebody calls you on the telephone use the same psychology. Say “Hello” in tones that bespeak how pleased YOU are to have the person call. Many companies train their telephone operators to greet all callers in a tone of voice that radiates interest and enthusiasm. The caller feels the company is concerned about them. Let’s remember that when we answer the telephone tomorrow.
This isn’t a new truth. A hundred years before Christ was born, a famous old Roman poet, Publilius Syrus, remarked: “We are interested in others when they are interested in us.” A show of interest, as with every other principle of human relations, must be sincere. It must pay off not only for the person showing the interest, but for the person receiving the attention. It is a two-way street—both parties benefit.
If you want others to like you, if you want to develop real friendships, if you want to help others at the same time as you help yourself, keep this principle in mind: Become genuinely interested in other people.
Principle 5: Smile
At a dinner party in New York, one of the guests, a woman who had inherited money, was eager to make a pleasing impression on everyone. She had squandered a modest fortune on sables, diamonds and pearls. But she hadn’t done anything whatsoever about her face. It radiated sourness and selfishness. She didn’t realize what everyone knows: namely, that the expression one wears on one’s face is far more important than the clothes one wears on one’s back.
Charles Schwab once said that his smile had been worth a million dollars. And he was probably understating the truth. For Schwab’s personality, his charm, his ability to make people like him, were almost wholly responsible for his extraordinary success; and one of the most delightful factors in his personality was his captivating smile.
Actions speak louder than words, and a smile says, “I like you. You make me happy. I am glad to see you.” That is why dogs make such a hit. They are so glad to see us that they almost jump out of their skins. So, naturally, we are glad to see them.
An insincere grin? No. That doesn’t fool anybody. We know it is mechanical and we resent it. I am talking about a real smile, a heartwarming smile, a smile that comes from within, the kind of smile that will bring a good price in the marketplace. The effect of a smile is powerful—even when it is unseen and you’re talking on the phone. Your “smile” comes through in your voice. You must have a good time meeting people if you expect them to have a good time meeting you.
You don’t feel like smiling? Then what? Two things. First, force yourself to smile. If you are alone, force yourself to whistle or hum a tune or sing. Act as if you were already happy, and that will tend to make you happy. Here is the way the psychologist and philosopher William James put it: “Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not… Thus the sovereign voluntary path to cheerfulness, if our cheerfulness be lost, is to sit up cheerfully and to act and speak as if cheerfulness were already there.”
Everybody in the world is seeking happiness—and there is one sure way to find it. That is by controlling your thoughts. Happiness doesn’t depend on outward conditions. It depends on inner conditions. It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it. For example, two people may be in the same place, doing the same thing; both may have about an equal amount of money and prestige—and yet one may be miserable and the other happy. Why? Because of a different mental attitude. There are just as many happy faces among the poor peasants toiling with their primitive tools in the devastating heat of the tropics as in air-conditioned offices in New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles.
“There is nothing either good or bad,” said Shakespeare, “but thinking makes it so.” Abe Lincoln once remarked that “most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Peruse this bit of sage advice from the essayist and publisher Elbert Hubbard:
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 what you would like to do; and then, without veering off direction, you will move straight to the goal. Keep 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 fulfillment of your desire, just as the coral insect takes from the running tide the element it needs. Picture in your mind the able, earnest, useful person you desire to be, and the thought you hold is hourly transforming you into that particular individual . . . Thought is supreme. Preserve a right mental attitude—the attitude of courage, frankness, and good cheer. To think rightly is to create. All things come through desire and every sincere prayer is answered. We become like that on which our hearts are fixed. Carry your chin in and the crown of your head high. We are gods in the chrysalis.
The ancient Chinese were a wise lot—wise in the ways of the world; and they had a proverb that you and I ought to cut out and paste inside our hats. It goes like this: “A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.” Your smile is a messenger of your good will. Your smile brightens the lives of all who see it. To someone who has seen a dozen people frown, scowl or turn their faces away, your smile is like the sun breaking through the clouds. Especially when that someone is under pressure from his bosses, his customers, his teachers or parents or children, a smile can help him realize that all is not hopeless—that there is joy in the world.
Principle 6: Remember that a Person’s Name is to that Person the Sweetest and Most Important Sound in Any Language
What was the reason for Andrew Carnegie’s success? He was called the Steel King; yet he himself knew little about the manufacture of steel. He had hundreds of people working for him who knew far more about steel than he did. But he knew how to handle people, and that is what made him rich. Early in life, he showed a flair for organization, a genius for leadership. By the time he was ten, he too had discovered the astounding importance people place on their own name. And he used that discovery to win cooperation. To illustrate: When he was a boy back in Scotland, he got hold of a rabbit, a mother rabbit. Presto! He soon had a whole nest of little rabbits—and nothing to feed them. But he had a brilliant idea. He told the boys and girls in the neighborhood that if they would go out and pull enough clover and dandelions to feed the rabbits, he would name the bunnies in their honor. The plan worked like magic, and Carnegie never forgot it.
The average person is more interested in his or her own name than in all the other names on earth put together. People are so proud of their names that they strive to perpetuate them at any cost. For many centuries, nobles and magnates supported artists, musicians and authors so that their creative works would be dedicated to them. Libraries and museums owe their richest collections to people who cannot bear to think that their names might perish from the memory of the race. And nearly every church is beautified by stained-glass windows commemorating the names of their donors. Many of the buildings on the campus of most universities bear the names of donors who contributed large sums of money for this honor.
Remember that name and call it easily, and you have paid a subtle and very effective compliment. But forget it or misspell it—and you have placed yourself at a sharp disadvantage. Most people don’t remember names, for the simple reason that they don’t take the time and energy necessary to concentrate and repeat and fix names indelibly in their minds. They make excuses for themselves; they are too busy. But they were probably no busier than Franklin D. Roosevelt, and he took time to remember and recall even the names of mechanics with whom he came into contact. Franklin D. Roosevelt knew that one of the simplest, most obvious and most important ways of gaining good will was by remembering names and making people feel important—yet how many of us do it?
Half the time we are introduced to a stranger, we chat a few minutes and can’t even remember his or her name by the time we say goodbye. Napoleon the Third, Emperor of France and nephew of the great Napoleon, boasted that in spite of all his royal duties he could remember the name of every person he met. His technique? Simple. If he didn’t hear the name distinctly, he said, “So sorry. I didn’t get the name clearly.” Then, if it was an unusual name, he would say, “How is it spelled?” During the conversation, he took the trouble to repeat the name several times and tried to associate it in his mind with the person’s features, expression and general appearance. If the person was someone of importance, Napoleon went to even further pains. As soon as His Royal Highness was alone, he wrote the name down on a piece of paper, looked at it, concentrated on it, fixed it securely in his mind, and then tore up the paper. In this way, he gained an eye impression of the name as well as an ear impression. All this takes time, but “Good manners,” said Emerson, “are made up of petty sacrifices.
We should be aware of the magic contained in a name and realize that this single item is wholly and completely owned by the person with whom we are dealing and nobody else. The name sets the individual apart; it makes him or her unique among all others. The information we are imparting or the request we are making takes on a special importance when we approach the situation with the name of the individual. From the waitress to the senior executive, the name will work magic as we deal with others.
Principle 7: Be a Good Listener. Encourage Others to Talk About Themselves
What is the secret, the mystery, of a successful business interview? Well, according to former Harvard president Charles W. Eliot, “There is no mystery about successful business intercourse . . . Exclusive attention to the person who is speaking to you is very important. Nothing else is so flattering as that.” Eliot himself was a past master of the art of listening. Henry James, one of America’s first great novelists, recalled: “Dr. Eliot’s listening was not mere silence, but a form of activity. Sitting very erect on the end of his spine with hands joined in his lap, making no movement except that he revolved his thumbs around each other faster or slower, he faced his interlocutor and seemed to be hearing with his eyes as well as his ears. He listened with his mind and attentively considered what you had to say while you said it . . . At the end of an interview the person who had talked to him felt that he had had his say.” Self-evident, isn’t it? You don’t have to study for four years in Harvard to discover that.
One of the great listeners of modern times was Sigmund Freud. A man who met Freud described his manner of listening: “It struck me so forcibly that I shall never forget him. He had qualities which I had never seen in any other man. Never had I seen such concentrated attention. There was none of that piercing ‘soul penetrating gaze’ business. His eyes were mild and genial. His voice was low and kind. His gestures were few. But the attention he gave me, his appreciation of what I said, even when I said it badly, was extraordinary. You’ve no idea what it meant to be listened to like that.” If you want to know how to make people shun you and laugh at you behind your back and even despise you, here is the recipe: Never listen to anyone for long. Talk incessantly about yourself. If you have an idea while the other person is talking, don’t wait for him or her to finish: bust right in and interrupt in the middle of a sentence.
Do you know people like that? I do, unfortunately; and the astonishing part of it is that some of them are prominent. Bores that is all they are—bores intoxicated with their own egos, drunk with a sense of their own importance. People who talk only of themselves think only of themselves. And those people who think only of themselves are hopelessly uneducated. They are not educated, no matter how instructed they may be. So if you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that other persons will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments.
Remember that the people you are talking to are a hundred times more interested in themselves and their wants and problems than they are in you and your problems. A person’s toothache means more to that person than a famine in China which kills a million people. A boil on one’s neck interests one more than forty earthquakes in Africa. Think of that the next time you start a conversation.
Principle 8: Talk in Terms of the Other Person’s Interests
Everyone who was ever a guest of Theodore Roosevelt was astonished at the range and diversity of his knowledge. Whether his visitor was a cowboy or a Rough Rider, a New York politician or a diplomat, Roosevelt knew what to say. And how was it done? The answer was simple. Whenever Roosevelt expected a visitor, he sat up late the night before, reading up on the subject in which he knew his guest was particularly interested. For Roosevelt knew, as all leaders know, that the royal road to a person’s heart is to talk about the things he or she treasures most.
The genial William Lyon Phelps, essayist and professor of literature at Yale, learned this lesson early in life. “When I was eight years old and was spending a weekend visiting by Aunt Libby Linsley in her home in Stratford on the Housatonic,” he wrote in his essay on Human Nature, “a middle-aged man called one evening, and after a polite skirmish with my aunt, he devoted his attention to me. At that time, I happened to be excited about boats, and the visitor discussed the subject in a way that seemed to me particularly interesting. After he left, I spoke of him with enthusiasm. What a man! My aunt informed me he was a New York lawyer, that he cared nothing whatsoever about boats—that he took not the slightest interest in the subject. ‘But why then did he talk all the time about boats?’ ‘Because he is a gentleman. He saw you were interested in boats, and he talked about the things he knew would interest and please you. He made himself agreeable.’”
Principle 9: Make the Other Person Feel Important—And Do It Sincerely
There is one all-important law of human conduct. If we obey that law, we shall almost never get into trouble. In fact, that law, if obeyed, will bring us countless friends and constant happiness. But the very instant we break the law, we shall get into endless trouble. The law is this: Always make the other person feel important. John Dewey said that the desire to be important is the deepest urge in human nature; and William James said: “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” It is this urge that differentiates us from the animals. It is this urge that has been responsible for civilization itself.
Philosophers have been speculating on the rules of human relationships for thousands of years, and out of all that speculation, there has evolved only one important precept. It is not new. It is as old as history. Zoroaster taught it to his followers in Persia twenty-five hundred years ago. Confucius preached it in China twenty-four centuries ago. Lao-tse, the founder of Taoism, taught it to his disciples in the Valley of the Han. Buddha preached it on the bank of the Holy Ganges five hundred years before Christ. The sacred books of Hinduism taught it a thousand years before that. Jesus taught it among the stony hills of Judea nineteen centuries ago. Jesus summed it up in one thought—probably the most important rule in the world: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
You want the approval of those with whom you come in contact. You want recognition of your true worth. You want a feeling that you are important in your little world. You don’t want to listen to cheap, insincere flattery, but you do crave sincere appreciation. You want your friends and associates to be, as Charles Schwab put it, “hearty in their approbation and lavish in their praise.” All of us want that.
So, let’s obey the Golden Rule, and give unto others what we would have others give unto us. How? When? Where? The answer is: All the time, everywhere. You don’t have to wait until you are ambassador to France or chairman of the Clambake Committee of your lodge before you use this philosophy of appreciation. You can work magic with it almost every day.
If, for example, the waitress brings us mashed potatoes when we have ordered French fried, let’s say: “I’m sorry to trouble you, but I prefer French Fried.” She’ll probably reply, “No trouble at all” and will be glad to change the potatoes, because we have shown respect for her.
“I’m sorry to trouble you,” “Would you be so kind as to ---?” “Won’t you please?” “Would you mind?” “Thank you” – little courtesies like these oil the cogs of the monotonous grind of everyday life—and, incidentally, they are the hallmark of good breeding.
Let’s take another illustration: Hall Caine’s novels were all best-sellers in the early part of the 20th century. Millions of people read his novels. He was the son of a blacksmith. He never had more than eight years’ schooling in his life; yet when he died he was the richest literary man of his time. The story goes like this: Hall Caine loved sonnets and ballads; so, he devoured all of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s poetry. He even wrote a lecture chanting the praises of Rossetti’s artistic achievement—and sent a copy to Rossetti himself. Rossetti was delighted. “Any young man who has such an exalted opinion of my ability,” Rossetti probably said to himself, “must be brilliant.” So, Rossetti invited this blacksmith’s son to come to London and act as his secretary. That was the turning point in Hall Caine’s life; for, in his new position, he met the literary artists of the day. Profiting by their advice and inspired by their encouragement, he launched upon a career that emblazoned his name across the sky. Yet—who knows—he might have died poor and unknown had he not written an essay expressing his admiration for a famous man.
Such is the power, the stupendous power, of sincere, heartfelt appreciation. Rossetti considered himself important. That is not strange. Almost everyone considers himself important, very important.
The life of many a person could probably be changed if only someone would make him feel important. The unvarnished truth is that almost all the people you meet feel themselves superior to you in some way, and a sure way to their hearts is to let them realize in some subtle way that you recognize their importance and recognize it sincerely. Remember what Emerson said: “Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him.” And the pathetic part of it is that frequently those who have the least justification for a feeling of achievement bolster up their egos by a show of tumult and conceit which is truly nauseating. As Shakespeare put it: “. . . man, proud man, Drest in a little brief authority, . . . Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven, As make the angels weep.”
“Talk to people about themselves,” said Disraeli, one of the shrewdest men who ever ruled the British Empire. “Talk to people about themselves and they will listen for hours.
Principle 10: The Only Way to Get the Best of an Argument is to Avoid It
There is only one way under high heaven to get the best of an argument—and that is to avoid it. Avoid it as you would avoid rattlesnakes and earthquakes. 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. You can’t because if you lose it, you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it. Why? Well, 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 his pride. He will resent your triumph. And – A man convinced against his will is still of the same opinion still.
As wise old Ben Franklin used to say: “If you argue and rankle and contradict, you may achieve a victory sometimes; but it will be an empty victory because you will never get your opponent’s good will.” So, figure it out for yourself. Which would you rather have, an academic, theatrical victory or a person’s good will? You can seldom have both.
Buddha said: “Hatred is never ended by hatred but by love,” and a misunderstanding is never ended by an argument but by tact, diplomacy, conciliation and a sympathetic desire to see the other person’s viewpoint. Lincoln once reprimanded a young army officer for indulging in a violent controversy with an associate. “No man who is resolved to make the most of himself,” said Lincoln, “can spare time for personal contention. Still less can he afford to take the consequences, including the vitiation of his temper and the loss of self-control. Yield larger things to which you show no more than equal rights; and yield lesser ones though clearly your own. Better give your path to a dog than be bitten by him in contesting for the right. Even killing the dog would not cure the bite.”
Here are some suggestions on how to keep a disagreement from becoming an argument:
- Welcome the disagreement. Remember the slogan, “When two partners always agree, one of them is not necessary.” If there is some point you haven’t thought about, be thankful it is brought to your attention. Perhaps this disagreement is your opportunity to be corrected before you make a serious mistake.
- Distrust your first instinctive impression. Our first natural reaction in a disagreeable situation is to be defensive. Be careful. Keep calm and watch your for your first reaction. It may be you at your worst, not your best.
- Listen first. Give your opponents a chance to talk. Let them finish. Do not resist, defend or debate. This only raises barriers. Try to build bridges of understanding. Don’t build higher barriers of misunderstanding.
- Look for areas of agreement. When you have heard your opponents out, dwell first on the points and areas on which you agree.
- Be honest. Look for areas where you can admit error and say so. Apologize for your mistakes. It will help disarm your opponents and reduce defensiveness.
- Promise to think over your opponents’ ideas and study them carefully. And mean it. Your opponents may be right. It is a lot easier at this stage to agree to think about their points than to move rapidly ahead and find yourself in a position where your opponents can say: “We tried to tell you, but you wouldn’t listen.”
- Thank your opponents sincerely for their interest. Anyone who takes the time to disagree with you is interested in the same things you are. Think of them as people who really want to help you, and you may turn your opponents into friends.
Postpone action to give both sides time to think through the problem. Suggest that a new meeting be held later that day or the next day, when all the facts may be brought to bear. In preparation for this meeting, ask yourself some hard questions: 1. Could my opponents be right? Partly right?
- Is there truth or merit in their position or argument?
- Is my reaction one that will relieve the problem, or will it just relieve any frustration?
- Will my reaction drive my opponents further away or draw them closer to me?
- Will my reaction elevate the estimation good people have of me?
- Will I win or lose? What price will I have to pay if I win?
- If I am quiet about it, will the disagreement blow over?
- Is this difficult situation an opportunity for me?
Principle 11: Show Respect for the Other Person’s Opinions. Never say, “You’re Wrong.”
You can people they are wrong by a look or an intonation or a gesture just as eloquently as you can in words—and if you tell them they are wrong, do you make them want to agree with you? Never! For you have struck a direct blow at their intelligence, judgment, pride, and self-respect. That will make them want to strike back. But it will never make them want to change their minds. You may then hurl at them all the logic of a Plato or an Immanuel Kant, but you will not alter their opinions, for you have hurt their feelings.
Never begin by announcing “I am going to prove so-and-so to you.” That’s bad. That’s tantamount to saying: “I’m smarter than you are. I’m going to tell you a thing or two and make you change your mind.” That is a challenge. It arouses opposition and makes the listener want to battle with you before you even start.
It is difficult, under even the most benign conditions, to change people’s minds. So why make it harder? Why handicap yourself? If you are going to prove anything, don’t let anybody know it. Do it so subtly, so adroitly, that no one will feel that you are doing it. This was expressed succinctly by Alexander Pope: “Men must be taught as if you taught them not; And things unknown proposed as things forgot.”
Over three hundred years ago, Galileo said: “You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him to find it within himself.” As Lord Chesterfield said to his son: “Be wiser than other people if you can; but do not tell them so.” Socrates said repeatedly to his followers in Athens: “One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing.” Well, I can’t hope to be any smarter than Socrates, so I have quit telling people they are wrong. And I find that it pays.
If a person makes a statement that you think is wrong—yes, even that you know is wrong—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.”
There’s magic—positive magic—in such phrases as: “I may be wrong. I frequently am. Let’s examine the facts.” Nobody in the heavens above or on earth beneath will ever object to your saying: “I may be wrong. Let’s examine the facts.”
You will never get into trouble by admitting that you may be wrong. That will stop all argument and inspire your opponent to be just as fair and open and broad-minded as you are. It will make him want to admit that he, too, may be wrong.
Few people are logical. Most of us are prejudiced and biased. Most of us are blighted with preconceived notions, with jealousy, suspicion, fear, envy, and pride. And most citizens don’t want to change their minds about their religion or their haircut or communism or their favorite movie star.
We sometimes find ourselves changing our minds without any resistance or heavy emotion, but if we are told we are wrong, we resent the imputation and harden our hearts. We are incredibly heedless in the formation of our beliefs but find ourselves filled with an illicit passion for them when anyone proposes to rob us of their companionship. It is obviously not the ideas themselves that are dear to us, but our self-esteem which is threatened. We like to continue to believe that we have been accustomed to accept as true, and the resentment aroused when doubt is cast upon any of our assumptions leads us to seek every manner of excuse for clinging to it. The result is that most of our so-called reasoning consists in finding arguments for going on believing as we already do.
Enormous value can be found when you permit yourself to understand the other person. Our first reaction to most of the statements we hear from other people is an evaluation or judgment, rather than an understanding of it. When someone expresses some feeling, attitude or belief, our tendency is almost immediately to feel “that’s right,” or “that’s stupid,” “that’s abnormal,” “that’s unreasonable,” “that’s incorrect,” “that’s not nice.” Very rarely do we permit ourselves to understand precisely what the meaning of the statement is to the other person.
When we are wrong, we may admit it to ourselves. And if we are handled gently and tactfully, we may admit it to others and even take pride in our frankness and broad-mindedness. But not if someone else is trying to ram the unpalatable fact down our esophagus.
One day, when Ben Franklin was a blundering youth, an old Quaker friend took him aside and lashed him with a few stinging truths, something like this:
“Ben, you are impossible. Your opinions have a slap in them for everyone who differs with you. They have become so offensive that nobody cares for them. Your friends find they enjoy themselves better when you are not around. You know so much that no man can tell you anything. Indeed, no man is going to try, for the effort would lead only to discomfort and hard work. So you are not likely ever to know any more than you do now, which is very little.”
Franklin was big enough and wise enough to realize that this rebuke was true, to sense that he was headed for failure and social disaster. He began immediately to change his insolent, opinionated ways. “I made it a rule,” said Franklin, “to forbear all direct contradiction to the sentiment of others, and all positive assertion of my own. I even forbade myself the use of every word or expression in the language that imported a fixed opinion, such as ‘certainly,’ ‘undoubtedly,’ etc., and I adopted, instead of them, ‘I conceive,” ‘I apprehend,’ or ‘I imagine’ a thing to be so. When another asserted something that I thought an error, I denied myself the pleasure of contradicting him abruptly, and of showing immediately some absurdity in his proposition: and in answering I began by observing that in certain cases or circumstances his opinion would be right, but in the present case there appeared or seemed to me some difference, etc. I soon found the advantage of this change in my manner; the conversations I engaged in went on more pleasantly. The modest way in which I proposed my opinions procured them a readier reception and less contradiction; I had less mortification when I was found to be in the wrong, and I more easily prevailed with others to give up their mistakes and join with me when I happened to be in the right.
“And this mode, which I at first put on with some violence to natural inclination, became at length so easy, and so habitual to me, that perhaps for these fifty years past no one has ever heard a dogmatical expression escape me. And to this habit (after my character of integrity) I think it principally owing that I had earned so much weight with my fellow citizens when I proposed new institutions or alterations in the old, and so much influence in public councils when I became a member; for I was but a bad speaker, never eloquent, subject to much hesitation in my choice of wards, hardly correct in language, and yet I generally carried my points.”
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 12: If You Are Wrong, Admit it Quickly and Emphatically
There is a certain degree of satisfaction in having the courage to admit one’s errors. It not only clears the air of guilt and defensiveness, but it often helps solve the problem created by the error. If we know we are going to be rebuked anyhow, isn’t it far better to beat 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?
Say about yourself all the derogatory things you know the other person is thinking or wants to say or intends to say—and say them before that person has a chance to say them. The chances are a hundred to one that a generous, forgiving attitude will be taken and your mistakes will be minimized.
Any fool can try to defend his or her mistakes—and most fools do—but it raises one above the herd and gives one a feeling of nobility and exultation to admit one’s mistakes. When we are right, let’s try to win people gently and tactfully to our way of thinking, and when we are wrong—and that will be surprisingly often, if we are honest with ourselves—let’s admit our mistakes quickly and with enthusiasm. Not only will that technique produce astonishing results; but, believe it or not, it is a lot more fun, under the circumstances, than trying to defend oneself.
Remember the old proverb: “By fighting you never get enough, but by yielding you get more than you expected.”
Principle 13: Begin in a Friendly Way
If your temper is aroused and you tell ‘em a thing or two, you will have a fine time unloading your feelings. But what about the other person? Will he share your pleasure? Will your belligerent tones, your hostile attitude, make it easy for him to agree with you?
“If you come at me with your fists doubled,” said Woodrow Wilson, “I think I can promise you that mine will double as fast as yours; but if you come to me and say, ‘Let us sit down and take counsel together, and, if we differ from each other, understand why it is that we differ, just what the points at issue are,’ we will presently find that we are not so far apart after all, that the points on which we differ are few and the points on which we agree are many, and that if we only have the patience and the candor and the desire to get together, we will get together.”
If a man’s heart is rankling with discord and ill feeling toward you, you can’t win him to your way of thinking with all the logic of Christendom. Scolding parents and domineering bosses and husbands and nagging wives ought to realize that people don’t want to change their minds. They can’t be forced or driven to agree with you or me. But they may possibly be led to, if we are gentle and friendly, ever so gentle and ever so friendly.
Lincoln said that, in effect, over a hundred years ago. Here are his words: “It is an old and true maxim that ‘a drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.’ So, with men, if you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart; which, say what you will, is the great high road to his reason.” Friendliness begets friendliness.
The sun can make you take off your coat more quickly than the wind; and kindliness, the friendly approach and appreciation can make people change their minds more readily than all the bluster and storming in the world.
Principle 14: Get the Other Person Saying “Yes, Yes” Immediately
In talking with people, don’t begin by discussing the things on which you differ. Begin by emphasizing—and keep on emphasizing—the things on which you agree. Keep emphasizing, if possible, that you are both striving for the same end and that your only difference 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.” A “No” response is a most difficult handicap to overcome. When you have said “No,” all your pride of personality demands that you remain consistent with yourself. You may later feel that the “No” was ill-advised; nevertheless, there is your precious pride to consider! Once having said a thing, you feel you must stick to it. Hence it is of the very greatest importance that a person be started in the affirmative direction.
Socrates, “the gadfly of Athens,” was one of the greatest philosophers the world has ever known. He did something that only a handful of men in all history have been able to do: he sharply changed the whole course of human thought; and now, twenty-four centuries after his death, he is honored as one of the wisest persuaders who ever influenced this wrangling world.
His method? Did he tell people they were wrong? Oh, no, not Socrates. He was far too adroit for that. His whole technique, now called the “Socratic method,” was based upon getting a “yes, yes” response. He asked questions with which his opponent would have to agree. He kept on winning one admission after another until he had an armful of yeses. He kept on asking questions until finally, almost without realizing it, his opponents found themselves embracing a conclusion they would have bitterly denied a few minutes previously.
The next time we are tempted to tell someone he or she is wrong, let’s remember old Socrates and ask a gentle question—a question that will get the “yes, yes” response. The Chinese have a proverb pregnant with the age-old wisdom of the Orient: “He who treads softly goes far.”
Principle 15: Let the Other Person do a Great Deal of the Talking
Most people trying to win others to their way of thinking do too much talking themselves. Let the other person talk themselves out. They know more about their business and problems than you do. So, ask them questions. Let them tell you a few things.
If you disagree with them you may be tempted to interrupt. But don’t. It is dangerous. They won’t pay attention to you while they still have a lot of ideas of their own crying for expression. So, listen patiently and with an open mind. Be sincere about it. Encourage them to express their ideas fully.
Even our friends would much rather talk to us about their achievements than listen to us boast about ours. La Rochefoucauld, the French philosopher, said: “If you want enemies, excel your friends; but if you want friends, let your friends excel you.” Why is this true? Because when our friends excel us, they feel important; but when we excel them, they—or at least some of them—will feel inferior and envious.
Principle 16: Let the Other Person Feel that the Idea is His or Hers
Don’t you have much more faith in ideas that you discover for yourself than in ideas that are handed to you on a silver platter? If so, isn’t it bad judgment to try to ram your opinions down the throats of other people? Isn’t it wiser to make suggestions and let the other person think out the conclusion?
No one likes to feel that he or she is being sold something or told to do a thing. We much 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.
Ralph Waldo Emerson in his essay “Self-Reliance” stated: “In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.”
Twenty-five centuries ago, Lao-tse, a Chinese sage, said: “The reason why rivers and seas receive the homage of a hundred mountain streams is that they keep below them. Thus, they are able to reign over all the mountain streams. So, the sage, wishing to be above men, putteth himself below them; wishing to be before them, he putteth himself behind them. Thus, though his place be above men, they do not feel his weight; though his place before them, they do not count it an injury.”
Principle 17: Try Honestly to See Things From the Other Person’s Point of View
Remember that other people may be totally wrong. But they don’t think so. Don’t condemn them. Any fool can do that. Try to understand them. Only wise, tolerant, exceptional people even try to do that.
There is a reason why the other man thinks and acts as he does. Ferret out that reason—and you have the key to his actions, perhaps to his personality. Try honestly to put yourself in his place. If you say to yourself, “How would I feel, how would I react if I were in his shoes?” you will save yourself time and irritation, for “by becoming interested in the cause, we are less likely to dislike the effect.” And, in addition, you will sharply increase your skills in human relationships.
Stop a minute to contrast your keen interest in your own affairs with your mild concern about anything else. Realize then, that everybody else in the world feels exactly the same way! Then, along with Lincoln and Roosevelt, you will have grasped the only solid foundation for interpersonal relationships; namely, that success in dealing with people depends on a sympathetic grasp of the other persons’ viewpoint.
Cooperativeness in conversation is achieved when you show that you consider the other person’s ideas and feelings as important as your own. Starting your conversation y giving the other person the purpose or direction of your conversation, governing what you say by what you would want to hear if you were the listener, and accepting his or her viewpoint will encourage the listener to have an open mind to your ideas.
Tomorrow, before asking anyone to buy your product or contribute to your favorite charity, why not pause and close your eyes and try to think the 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.
“I would rather walk the sidewalk in front of a person’s office for two hours before an interview,” said Dean Donham of the Harvard business school, “than step into that office without a perfectly clear idea of what I was going to say and what that person—from my knowledge of his or her interests and motives—was likely to answer.”
An increased tendency to think always in terms of the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as your own may easily prove to be one of the steppingstones of your career.
Principle 18: Be Sympathetic with the Other Person’s Ideas and Desires
Wouldn’t you like to have a magic phrase that would stop arguments, eliminate ill feeling, create good will, and make the other person listen attentively? Yes? All right. Here it is: “I don’t blame you one iota for feeling as you do. If I were you I would undoubtedly feel just as you do.”
An answer like that will soften the most cantankerous old cuss alive. And you can say that and be 100% sincere, because if you were the other person you, of course, would feel just as he does. Take Al Capone, for example. Suppose you had had his environment and experiences. You would then be precisely what he was. For it is those things—and only those things—that made him what he was. The only reason, for example, that you are not a rattlesnake is that your mother and father weren’t rattlesnakes.
You deserve very little credit for being what you are—and remember, the people who come to you irritated, bigoted, unreasoning, deserve very little discredit for being what they are. Feel sorry for the poor devils. Pity them. Sympathize with them.
Three-fourths of the people you will ever meet are hungering and thirsting for sympathy. Give it to them, and they will love you. The human species universally craves sympathy. The child eagerly displays his injury; or even inflicts a cut or bruise in order to reap abundant sympathy. For the same purpose, adults show their bruises, relate their accidents, illness, and details of surgical operations. “Self-pity” for misfortunes real or imaginary is in some measure, practically a universal practice.
So, if you want to win people to your way of thinking, be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
Principle 19: Appeal to the Nobler Motives
JP Morgan observed in one of his analytical interludes that a person usually has two reasons for doing a thing: one that sounds good and a real one. The person himself will think of the real reason. You don’t need to emphasize that. But all of us, being idealists at heart, like to think of motives that sound good. So, in order to change people, appeal to the nobler motives.
When John D. Rockefeller, Jr. wished to stop newspaper photographers from snapping pictures of his children, he appealed to the nobler motives. He didn’t say: “I don’t want their pictures published.” No, he appealed to the desire, deep in all of us, to refrain from harming children. He said: “You know how it is, boys. You’ve got children yourselves, some of you. And you know it’s not good for youngsters to get too much publicity.”
Principle 20: Dramatize Your Ideas
This is the day of dramatization. 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.
Principle 21: Throw Down a Challenge
Charles Schwab had a mill manager whose people weren’t producing their quota of work. “How is it, “ Schwab asked him, “that a manager as capable as you can’t make this mill turn out what it should?”
“I don’t know,” the manager replied. “I’ve coaxed the men, I’ve pushed them, I’ve sworn and cussed, I’ve threatened them with damnation and being fired. But nothing works. They just won’t produce.”
This conversation took place at the end of the day, just before the night shift came on. Schwab asked the manager for a piece of chalk, then, turning to the nearest man, asked: “How many heats did your shift make today?”
“Six.” Without another word, Schwab chalked a big figure six on the floor and walked away. When the night shift came in, they saw the “6” and asked what it meant. “The big boss was in here today,” the day people said. “He asked us how many heats we made, and we told him six. He chalked it down on the floor.”
The next morning Schwab walked through the mill again. The night shift had rubbed out “6” and replaced it with a big “7.” When the day shift reported for work the next morning, they saw a big “7” chalked on the floor. So, the night shift thought they were better than the day shift did they? Well, they would show the night shift a thing or two. The crew pitched in with enthusiasm, and when they quit that night, they left behind them an enormous, swaggering “10.” Things were stepping up.
Shortly this mill, which had been lagging way behind in production, was turning out more work than any other mill in the plant. The principle?
Let Charles Schwab say it in his own words: “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.”
The desire to excel! The challenge! Throwing down the gauntlet! An infallible way of appealing to people of the spirit.
Frederic Herzberg, one of the great behavioral scientists, concurred. He studied in depth the work attitudes of thousands of people ranging from factory workers to senior executives. What do you think he found to be the most motivating factor—the one facet of the jobs that was most stimulating? Money? Good working conditions? Fringe benefits? No—not any of those. The one major factor that motivated people was the work itself. If the work was exciting and interesting, the worker looked forward to doing it and was motivated to do a good job.
That is what every successful person loves: the game. The chance for self-expression. The chance to prove his or her worth, to excel, to win. That is what makes footraces and hog-calling and pie-eating contests. The desire to excel. The desire for a feeling of importance.
Principle 22: Begin with Praise and Honest Appreciation
Beginning with praise is like a dentist who begins his work with Novocain. The patient still gets a drilling, but the Novocain is painkilling. A leader will begin with praise and honest appreciation.
Principle 23: Call Attention to People’s Mistakes Indirectly
Charles Schwab was passing through one of his steel mills one day at noon when he came across some of his employees smoking. Immediately above their heads was a sign that said, “No Smoking.” Did Schwab point to the sign and say, “Can’t you read?” Oh no, not Schwab. He walked over to the men, handed each one a cigar, and said, “I’ll appreciate it, boys, if you will smoke these on the outside.” They knew that he knew that they had broken a rule—and they admired him because he said nothing about it and gave them a little present and made them feel important. Couldn’t keep from loving a man like that, could you?
John Wanamaker used the same technique. Wanamaker used to make a tour of his great store in Philadelphia every day. Once he saw a customer waiting at a counter. No one was paying the slightest attention to her. The salespeople? Oh, they were at a huddle at the far end of the counter laughing and talking among themselves. Wanamaker didn’t say a word. Quietly slipping behind the counter, he waited on the woman himself and then handed the purchase to the salespeople to be wrapped as he went on his way.
Calling attention to one’s mistakes indirectly works wonders with sensitive people who may resent bitterly any direct criticism.
Principle 24: Talk About Your Own Mistakes Before Criticizing the Other Person
Admitting one’s own mistakes—even when one hasn’t corrected them—can help convince somebody to change his behavior. A good leader will always talk about their own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
Principle 25: Ask Questions Instead of Giving Direct Orders
Never give a direct order to anyone. Always give people suggestions, not orders. Give people the opportunity to do things themselves. Never tell them to do things. And let them learn from their mistakes. A technique like this makes it easy for a person to correct errors. A technique like this saves a person’s pride and gives him or her a feeling of importance. It encourages cooperation instead of rebellion. An effective leader will ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
Principle 26: Let the Other Person Save Face
Even if we are right and the other person is definitely wrong, we only destroy ego by causing someone to lose face. The legendary French aviation pioneer and author Antione de Saint-Exupery wrote: “I have no right to say or do anything that diminishes a man in his own eyes. What matters is not what I think of him, but what he thinks of himself. Hurting a man in his dignity is a crime.” A real leader will always let the other person save face.
Principle 27: Praise the Slightest Improvement and Praise Every Improvement
When a dog shows the slightest improvement in a dog show, the trainer will praise him and give him meat and make a great to-do about it. That’s nothing new. Animal trainers have been using that same technique for centuries. Why don’t we use the same common sense when trying to change people that we use when trying to change dogs? Why don’t we use meat instead of a whip? Why don’t we use praise instead of condemnation? Let us praise even the slightest improvement. That inspires the other person to keep on improving.
Praise is like sunlight to the warm human spirit. We cannot flower and grow without it. And yet, while most of us are only too ready to apply to others the cold wind of criticism, we are somehow reluctant to give our fellow the warm sunshine of praise.
I can look back at my own life and see where a few words of praise have sharply changed my entire future. Can’t you say the same thing about your life.
In the early nineteenth century, a young man in London aspired to be a writer. But everything seemed to be against him. He had never been able to attend school more than four years. His father had been flung in jail because he couldn’t pay his debts, and this young man often knew the pangs of hunger. Finally, he got a job pasting labels on bottles of blacking in a rat-infested warehouse, and he slept at night in a dismal attic room with two other boys—guttersnipes from the slums of London. He had so little confidence in his ability to write that he sneaked out and mailed his first manuscript in the dead of night so nobody would laugh at him. Story after story was refused. Finally, the great day came when one was accepted. True, he wasn’t paid a shilling for it, but one editor had praised him. One editor had given him recognition. He was so thrilled that he wandered aimlessly around the streets with tears rolling down his cheeks.
The praise, the recognition, that he received through getting one story in print, changed his whole life, for if it hadn’t been for that encouragement, he might have spent his entire life working in rat-infested factories. You may have heard of that boy. His name was Charles Dickens.
Use of praise instead of criticism is the basic concept of B. F. Skinner’s teachings. This great contemporary psychologist has shown by experiments with animals and with humans that when criticism is minimized and praise emphasized, the good things people do will be reinforced and the poorer things will atrophy for lack of attention.
When giving praise, do not just flatter the person and say, “You’re good.” Specifically point out how their work is superior. By singling out a specific accomplishment, rather than just making general flattering remarks, your praise becomes much more meaningful to the person to whom it is given. Everybody likes to be praised, but when praise is specific, it comes across as sincere—not something the other person may be saying just to make one feel good.
Remember, we all crave appreciation and recognition, and will do almost anything to get it. But nobody wants insincerity. Nobody wants flattery. I am not advocating a bag of tricks. I am talking about a new way of life. If you and I will inspire the people with whom we come in contact to a realization of the hidden treasures they possess, we can do far more than change people. We can literally transform them.
Exaggeration? Then listen to these sage words from William James, one of the most distinguished psychologists and philosophers America has ever produced:
“Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake. We are making use of only a small part of our physical and mental resources. Stating the thing broadly, the human individual thus lives far within his limits. He possesses powers of various sorts which he habitually fails to use.”
Abilities wither under criticism; they blossom under encouragement. To become a more effective leader of people, praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.
Principle 28: Give the Other Person a Fine Reputation to Live Up To
If you want to improve a person in a certain aspect, act as though that particular trait were already one of his or her outstanding characteristics. Shakespeare said, “Assume a virtue, if you have it not.” And it might be well to assume and state openly that other people have the virtue you want them to develop. Give them a fine reputation to live up to, and they will make prodigious efforts rather than see you disillusioned.
There is an old saying: “Give a dog a bad name and you may as well hang him.” But give him a good name and see what happens! If you want to excel in that difficult leadership role of changing the attitude or behavior of others, give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
Principle 29: Use Encouragement. Make the Fault Seem Easy to Correct
Tell your child, your spouse, or your employee that he or she is stupid or dumb at a certain thing, has no gift for it, and is doing it all wrong, and you have destroyed almost every incentive to try to improve. But use the opposite technique—be liberal with your encouragement, make the thing seem easy to do, let the other person know that you have faith in his ability to do it, that he has an undeveloped flair for it—and he will practice until the dawn comes in the window in order to excel.
If you want to help others to improve, remember to use encouragement and make the fault seem easy to correct.
Principle 30: Make the Other Person Happy About Doing the Thing You Suggest
Napoleon was criticized when he created the Legion of Honor and distributed 15,000 crosses to his soldiers and made eighteen of his generals “Marshals of France” and called his troops the “Grand Army.” He was criticized for giving “toys” to war-hardened veterans, and Napoleon replied, “men are ruled by toys.” People are more likely to do what you would like them to do when you make them happy about doing the thing you suggest.