Not everyone is going to agree with you on everything. That’s what makes this world such a diverse and wonderful place. We all have our own unique ways of seeing things, we all have had different experiences which have shaped us in different ways.
In some cases, such as if you’re the president of a company or a parent that wants their kids to understand why they’re moving from the town they love, you must get those you have a stewardship over to see eye to eye with you, Carnegie offers these twelve principles of how to win people to your way of thinking:
Principle 1: The Only Way to Get the Best of an Argument is to Avoid It
In most cases, arguments end with each of the participants even more convinced that they were absolutely right.In fact, Carnegie feels that even if you technically “win” and argument, you in fact still lose — “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. You may have achieve a victory but you will never get your opponent’s good will.
So how do you keep a disagreement from becoming an argument? Carnegie offers some of the following tips:
- Distrust your first instinctive impression. It seems our natural reaction is to be defensive in a disagreeable situation. Monitor your actions to see if you’re just arguing for the sake of arguing or if there’s any merit behind it.
- Control your temper. There’s no benefit in being a hothead.
- Listen first. Give your opponent the chance to talk and let them finish with the intent of really understanding them. This will diffuse most arguments before they blow out of control.
- Look for areas of agreement. After you have listened, first state those areas and points upon which you agree.
- Be honest. Look for areas where you can admit error and make sure you say so.
- Promise to think over your opponent’s ideas and study them carefully. Afterwards, return at a later time to discuss what you’ve been thinking about. Sometimes all it takes is a little time and mental absorption to realize you may have been in the wrong. Tell the disagreeing party that you want a little time to think about what they have to say.
Principle 2: Show Some Respect for the Other Person’s Opinions. Never Say, “Your wrong.”
The second principle in winning people to your way of thinking is never to tell someone they’re wrong. Galileo said it perfectly, “You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him to find it within himself.” If you are going to prove anything, don’t let anyone know you are doing so. The best way is to do it so subtly that they discover “the truth” for themselves.
I am convinced now that nothing good is accomplished and a lot of damage can be doine if you tell a person straight out that he or she is wrong. You only succeed in stripping that person of self-dignity and making yourself an unwelcome part of any discussion.
Principle 3: If You’re Wrong, Admit It Quickly and Emphatically
Quite surprisingly , there will be times when you are wrong. In fact, this will occur often. When you are right, try to win people gently and tactfully to your way of thinking, but when you are wrong, admit your mistakes quickly and with enthusiasm. In fact, Carnegie even recommends that if you know you’re going to be rebuked anyhow, then it’s far better to beat the other person to the punch and do it yourself. This shows humility and it can be quite fun!
Principle 4: Begin in a Friendly Way
The fourth principle used in winning people over to your way of thinking is to begin in a friendly manner.
It is an old an 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. — Abraham Lincoln
Trying to sell your opinion with a hail of fire and venom won’t bring anyone over to your cause. Soften it with a little sincere praise, interest and common ground.
Principle 5: Get the Other Person Saying “yes, yes” Immediately
When talking with people, don’t begin by discussing the things in which you differ. Begin by making note — and keep emphasizing throughout your discussion — those things whereupon you agree. If possible, emphasize that you are both striving for the same end result, and that the only difference is one of method and not one of purpose.
Principle 6: Let the Other Person Do a Great Deal of the Talking
When trying to win others to your way of thinking, most people steal the stage and end up hogging the conversation. Instead, Carnegie insists that you let others do the talking. They know more about their circumstances and problems, so ask them questions and let them express their ideas fully.
Principle 7: Let the Other Person Feel the Idea is His or Hers
As stated before, people tend to learn best when they can come to understand the truth themselves. No one likes to feel their being sold something or forced to do something. When sharing ideas with others, it’s a lot more effective to help them come to the idea themselves — with your gentle guidance — than ramming it down their throats.
Carnegie says this is the key to getting another’s cooperation.
Principle 8: Try Honestly to See Things From the Other Person’s Point of View
This whole principle is based on the concept of walking in someone else’s shoes. If you really want others to agree with your way of thinking, your never going to be successful at it if you’re not willing to understand theirs.
Remember that other people may be totally wrong. But they don’t think so.
Principle 9: Be Sympathetic With the Other Person’s Ideas and Desires
You may not agree with another’s ideas or desires, but instead of criticizing them for it, sympathize with them. This principle, again, goes along with empathy. If people feel you respect and understand them, and thereby are sympathetic with their beliefs, they won’t be so concerned with you not believing as they do.
Principle 10: Appeal To the Nobler Motives
Unless completely callous, most people in their heart of hearts desire to do the noble and right thing. Carnegie suggests appealing to this noble side of people when trying to get them on your side of the fence.
For example, if you’re a landlord and one of your tenants has been delinquent on their payments, instead of sending them some scathing letter that they need to pay “or else”, appeal to their noble self and instead state in the letter that you know they are honest, hardworking and wish to do the right thing by getting current on their payments.
Carnegie explains that this may not work in all cases, but again, most people want to do what is right, and by reminding them of this, it will help them to want to do the right thing.
Principle 11: Dramatize Your Ideas
The movies do this, Television does it also, so why don’t you do it? We live in an age where the truth, by itself, is sometimes not enough. If you want to get your point across, take a cue from the media and make that truth more emblazened, more vivid, and more interesting.
Principle 12: Throw Down a Challenge
The way to get things done — as can be seen in any market economy — is to stimulate competition. Healthy competition, when used right, is a great motivating force.
Every successful person loves a challenge, a chance to prove their worth, an opportunity for self-expression, to excel and to win. Again, it all comes down to feeling important.
How to Win Friends & Influence People is the nineteenth of fifty-two books in Life Training – Online’s series 52 Personal Development Books in 52 Weeks.