How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie was first published in 1936 and although some of the examples are dated, it’s remarkable how astute are Carnegie’s suggestions. Today this book would have been written by a psychologist, but Carnegie was an educator trying to create a practical curriculum for businessmen and women. The third part of his book is dedicated to means of winning people to your way of thinking and they include:
• You Can’t Win an Argument
• A Sure Way of Making Enemies – And How to Avoid It
• If You’re Wrong, Admit It
• A Drop of Honey
• The Secret of Socrates
• The Safety Valve in Handling Complaints
• How to Get Cooperation
• A Formula that Will Work Wonders for You
• What Everybody Wants
• An Appeal that Everybody Likes
• The Movies Do It. TV Does It. Why Don’t You Do It?
• When Nothing Else Works, Try This
Let’s take a look at a few of these.
You Can’t Win an Argument
“Nine times out of ten, an argument ends with each of the contestants more firmly convinced than ever that he is absolutely right.” Although there are times when you need to stand up for the truth, I think more often than not, God wants us to win the other person over to the truth and that usually doesn’t happen through an argument. Rather, we win their trust through a sincere relationship or at least common courtesy and respect and then they are more apt to hear us out. This requires patience and wisdom.
Carnegie suggests agreeing with the person you are talking to as much as possible. They can’t argue against their own opinion. Slowly you can turn the conversation to your point once you’ve found common ground and thus won their trust. Also, you can express your appreciation for the other person and even their point of view and this will help them see that you aren’t attacking them.
A Sure Way of Making Enemies – And How to Avoid It
The sure way to make enemies is to tell someone that they are wrong. Carnegie astutely reminds us that this can be done with a word, a gesture, a facial expression, or even the tone of our voice. The takeaway principle of this chapter is to show respect for other’s opinions. Be ready to hear the other person out – there is probably a lot of truth in what they have to say and God can use these opportunities to sanctify you. Basically this is approaching every situation with humility enough to realize that the other person probably has a lot that you can learn from even if you don’t agree on everything. When people hold different views from me I try to remind myself that they must have come to that conclusion for some reason, just as I came to mine. So, rather than just writing off their opinion, I try to be open to hearing their reasoning. It may become apparent that one or the other of us has partial or inaccurate data and addressing that can be the starting point of a fruitful conversation.
If You’re Wrong, Admit It
As simple as this is, in an ego-driven marketplace, it’s immensely hard to do. Still, your staff will value your honesty more than any show of perfection. Others are much quicker to forgive you when you are open about your shortcomings. So, keep the goal in sight – in order to be an influential leader, you need to be humble enough to own up to your mistakes.
A Drop of Honey
Lincoln once said, “A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.” Begin in a friendly way and you will find that the rest of the conversation goes much better. If you start off attacking someone they will automatically put up their defenses and it will be nearly impossible to win them to your side. On the other hand, if you take the time to begin the conversation in a friendly and considerate way, people will be much more open to helping you with whatever it is you need. You can really catch people off guard and defuse a tense situation.
The Secret of Socrates
The sooner you can get the other person to agree with you about something, the more likely you will be to win them over to your view in the end. You’ve heard of the Socratic method. It is a great way for you to engage the person you are speaking with in such a way that they will internalize your reasoning more than simply listening can accomplish.
The Safety Valve in Handling Complaints
Let the other person talk themselves out. Even when it isn’t complaints, it is best to put the other person before yourself and try to focus the conversation on them. By loving them this way, they will feel appreciated and understood and will be much more open to your leadership.
Also, there is more fodder for wisdom in listening than in speaking. As a leader, be ready to listen. Your staff are the ones who are actually in the trenches and you need their insight in order to accurately see the big picture.
I doubt anything here has been new for you, but I hope it served as a good reminder of how to be a leader with influence.