This is part 3 of my review/breakdown of what I learned by reading “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.
This one is a bit longer than the others so far. So sit back, grab a drink and brace yourself:)
You Can’t Win an Argument
The lesson here is “The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.”
Have you ever been in argument, that you not only felt, but KNEW you were right? I think we’ve all been there at some point. One interesting thing about these arguments, if pursued, is that nobody wins. If you “win” by being right, you “lose” by jeopardizing a relationship in the process. The reason for this is that we all have a vested interest in this thing called EGO. Ego demands complete attention. It’s amazing the lengths some of us go to satisfy Ego. The Ego is best thought of as the self-centered of our consciousness which is most like a small child. It wants what it wants, and it wants it NOW (? la Veruca Salt).
As much interest as we have vested in our own Ego, and our reputation, none of us likes being shown up, especially in front of our peers. So, how to defuse a situation like this before it happens? The answer is to disagree without disagreeing.
Rather than saying, “You’re wrong, the rule plainly states so-and-so”, say, in a disarming tone, “Is that what the rule says? I could have sworn that I thought it said so-and-so, but there are so many rules to keep track of. I may be mistaken. I’ll check the book again, just to make sure.” More often than not, they will be HAPPY to consult the book with you, to prove themselves right.
This goes back to the tenet that the best idea a person hears is the one they come up with themselves. All that “change must come from within” stuff. This is one reason I’m reading the book “Changing Minds”, in hopes of being a better communicator of ideas.
So, if you ever get into a situation where you KNOW you are right, make the other person know that you’re right as well, but let them come to that conclusion on their own.
Dale Carnegie is famous for coining the phrase found in this chapter:
A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still. Excellent advice.
A Sure Way of Making Enemies-And How to Avoid It
This chapter overlaps the first chapter a lot. The lesson here is “Show Respect for the Other Person’s Opinion. Never say ‘you’re wrong'”.
How many times have you been in a dispute with someone else, only to discover that their idea, opinion or solution was more grounded and usable than your own? All I can really say here is that you do yourself a great disservice by not being open to other possibilities.
The Mind is like a parachute. It works best when it’s open.
If You’re Wrong, Admit it
Yes, that’s right. If you’re wrong, ADMIT it! This chapter gives many examples of how simply admitting wrong on your own part can defuse a potentially nasty argument from starting in the first place. Admission of oneself being wrong in a particular situation helps to sidekick and bypass the ego entirely. Ego and it’s need for attention causes so many problems in society, not just today, but all across time. How many wars were caused by conflicts of Ego? If one person had just stepped back and said “I’m wrong. You are entitled to so-and-so more than I am.”
Ego sometimes goes by other names too. Such as:
- “I have my pride to think about!”
- “I have to think about my reputation!”
- “It’s just a matter of principle!”
It is interesting to take note that a lot of Ego-based communication is emphasized and exclamated. Ego and Emotion are intertwined.
A Drop of Honey
Our lesson here is “Begin in a friendly way”.
You may get an emotional high from unloading your frustrations on someone who is doing a perceived wrong to you. Imagine though, if, before you do that, you close your eyes and try to understand why this person is doing what they’re doing.
The most telling part of this chapter (for me, anyway) is the old fable by Aesop of the Sun and the Wind.
Roughly condensed, it goes like this:
The sun and wind one day decide to see who it strongest. The wind says “See that man walking on the road? I wager that I can make him take his coat off before you can.” The wind started blowing, which made the man clutch his coat a bit tighter. Then, the wind blew stronger and stronger, eventually reaching gale force winds, which only made the man clutch his coat tighter around his body. The sun, after the wind gave up, started to shine gently, then brighter and brighter, until the man removed his coat to enjoy the warmth.
A drop of honey in any situation will always make it more pleasant for all involved.
The Secret of Socrates
Because I’m working in a sales backround during the day, this chapter is probably my favorite chapter. The lesson here is “to get the other person saying ‘yes’, ‘yes’, and ‘yes””
This chapter talks a bit about how the body’s systems seem to contract and work less efficiently when a person is saying “no” and in a negative mode. A positive mode, however, not only doesn’t contract the body’s systems, it also tends to open them up.
Socrates was the master of getting people to agree with him. He would begin his debates and discussions by focusing on the points that he and the other person already agreed on. By using probing questions, he would get the other person to say “yes” several times by asking about things they agree on. Then, he would use this “yes” momentum and move to focus on the points that needed agreement. It works almost as if by magic.
I don’t know about you, but I throughly appreciate when I find something of value. Do you like finding things of value that can make your life better? If I got nothing else from this book, this chapter is worth the purchase price.
The Safety Valve in Handling Complaints
This chapter tells us to “Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.” This advice works wonders in other areas besides handling compaints. The key here, just as in the chapter called “An Easy Way To Become A Good Conversationalist” in Part 2 of this book, is to get the other person talking, and shut your mouth while they talk. And make sure you LISTEN to what it is they’re saying. You will learn more about the situation by listening to them talk, than you will by letting them listen to you talk.
This technique also works wonders, if done properly, in sales. Would you rather spout off all the features and benefits of your product/service, or have the company buyer be excited by what you’re offering and sell the rest of the company FOR YOU?
How to Get Cooperation
This is a really good chapter that tells us to “Let the other person feel the idea is his or hers”. It has been shown that people are more likely to buy something if they can think of uses for it themselves. Of course, you can help guide them on the “right” path.
In one example in the book, a salesman who represented a company selling designs for stylists and textile manufacturer’s. 150 times, he showed the owner of a certain company the sketches, and the owner declined each time after careful review. So, the sales rep decided to try out something else. He took INCOMPLETE sketches to the company owner, and asked for his expert guidance in finishing up the sketches. The owner had the sketches for 3 weeks, the sales rep came back, thanked him, and on the way out the door, the owner bought enough from him to more than pay for the other 150 times that he had “failed”. Is there really any such thing as failures? I think that failure is just a learning experience we use to eventually get to the success we strive for.
A Formula that Will Work Wonders for You
Here, I learned to “Try Honestly to see thing from the other person’s point of view.”
Mr. Carnegie makes several references to career criminals in his book. One mentioned in this chapter is Al Capone. Carnegie makes the argument that even people like Al Capone are the way they are for a reason. So, next time you would condemn someone, stop first, close your eyes, and try to see things as that person sees them.
Carnegie makes the point that if we had the same upbringing, the same parents, and the same general environment as Al Capone did growing up, we might end up like that also.
The cool thing about this idea is that it touches so nicely on the ideas of modeling found in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). Next time you are trying to make a point to someone, first see the situation from their point of view. Then communicate to the person in a manner that is congruent with what you think their worldview is. This goes back to the chapter in this book on “expressing things in terms of the other person’s interests”.
What Everybody Wants
This overlaps with the previous chapter. Basically more of the same, I thought. Still more good examples in this chapter though.
An Appeal That Everybody Likes
This chapter teaches me to “Appeal to the Nobler Motives”
When dealing with a person in a situation that you would like a particular outcome, express your desire in terms of the nobler motives. If you would like a tree planted in a certain part of your yard for shade, mention to your landlord that it might be for the overall good the community, since the tree will help clean the air. That may sound like a bit of a stretch, but seriosuly, appeal to the other person’s morals.
Make it a win-win for both parties.
The Movies Do It. TV Does it. Why Don’t You Do It?
This chapter is a good primer on the concept of “Dramatizing your ideas.”
Rather than just telling your boss, “I have an idea that might save us money”, say “Boss, I’ve got an idea that if done right, will save us at LEAST $10,000 a year in advertising overhead, but get us even MORE leads into the funnel. And that’s a LOWBALL estimate!!!”
Notice on TV, when you see the commercials for certain laundry detergents, they have side-by-side comparisons. The soap being sold removes the stains in seconds (time-lapsed seconds, alas), while the other one either doesn’t get the stain or make it WORSE?
This is a dramatization of an idea or benefit. Toot your own horn when you rightfully can.
When Nothing Else Works, Try This
“Throw down a challenge”. If you want to improve the performance of a group in your workshop or office, set up a friendly competition. Offer a prize such as paid 24-hour day off, etc…
Anything goes, as long as the contest itself doesn’t inherently interfere with the work being done.
Stumble it! | Del.Icio.us | Digg | Reddit | Subscribe to RSS Feed | Subscribe via Email