Dale Carnegie Series 3–4: A Three-Stage Approach To Win People To Your Way of Thinking
The knowledge of how to handle people and getting them to like us are not enough if our true objective is to exert influence upon them and gain their agreement to our way of thinking. Carnegie’s “How To Win Friends & Influence People” third section deals exactly with this issue. Carnegie points out to twelve techniques that one can find to be useful in achieving this objective. These twelve techniques can be easily grouped into a systematic approach that one could employ when trying to win others to their way of thinking.
The first stage of this approach relates to setting the right tone. We saw in the previous segment of this series how politeness is vital for getting others to like us. This particular stage has a very similar objective to the one achieved by being polite to others. At this stage not only are we looking to get the other people to like us, but we are also trying to get them into a positive mind frame to accept suggestions more readily. Two of the techniques listed by Carnegie can be used in this specific stage. The first one mentioned is beginning in a friendly way. Basically, Carnegie is saying that a friendly, sympathetic, appreciative approach tends to be more effective than using a more forceful one. The second technique mentioned belonging to this stage is trying to get the other part to say “yes, yes” immediately. Carnegie implies that instead of placing too much time and energy on things you and the other part differ in, instead, focus on those you agree. The faster you get the other person saying yes, the more agreeable their demeanor will become, and thus the right tone would be set in place.
The second stage of this approach concerns itself with understanding the other person’s point of view. If we go back to part one of this series we would observe that the key fundamental principle to handle others is trying to understand them. That same principle is the one that rules the second stage of this approach. By understanding the other part you put yourself into a more advantageous position to influence them. Basically, what you are trying to achieve is feed that craving for a feeling of importance inherent in the nature of all human beings.
Five of the twelve techniques listed by Carnegie can readily be used to thrive at this second stage. The first thing you may want to do is let the other part do most of the talking. By allowing the other person to express their feeling you get to see things from their perspective and sympathize with their ideas and motivations. This has two advantages. The first one, as mentioned before, is to make the other person feel important. The second one is to familiarize yourself with the other person’s argument. It is important to remember that you are not in the search for weaknesses in their arguments, but rather hoping to find common ground in them. Once familiar with the other person’s point of view and desires you can easily appeal to their nobler motives, as Carnegie put it. Finally, it should be noted that the appeal has to be done in a subtle way. The other person should feel in a way that the ideas are his or hers. As Galileo said, “you cannot teach a man anything you can only help him find it himself”.
Under most circumstances, the two previous stages should suffice to get your point of view across. However, if required the third stage serves as a final strike to win the other person to your point of view. This stage deals less with all-encompassing principles but more with specific techniques in the art of persuasion. Two of these techniques mentioned by Carnegie are “dramatizing” and “throwing a challenge”. Dramatizing helps you communicate your point more vividly, interestingly and impressively. The idea of dramatizing is not far away from today’s idea of marketing, basically, you are selling your idea. Throwing a challenge, on the other hand, appeals to the person’s desire to excel. Carnegie recognizes that most people have competitive spirits, and providing a chance for them to prove their worth in a way related to your point of view serves as an effective tool of persuasion.
One thing to consider as you follow this approach is that you must try to avoid conflict at all cost. Conflict destroys the possibility of setting the right tone or vanishes any rapport you had build thus far. Furthermore, conflict, when managed improperly, may hurt the other part’s ego leading them to develop a deep resentment against you and thus make all your attempts to win them to your way of thinking futile. Carnegie believes that the best way to deal with an argument is to avoid at all cost, he also emphasizes the idea of avoid telling the other person they are wrong and encourages us to admit our errors quickly and emphatically. As you have probably noticed, the previous three concepts go hand in hand with the objective of stage 2. Don’t antagonize the other part, instead, try to understand them.
Winning other people two our way of thinking can appear to be a daunting task, but in reality the approach we use plays a huge role in our success or failure. We are not the logical beings we have been lead to believe we are. We are full of biases, furthermore, our emotions and egos play an important role in how we behave. However, among the few things we can be certain of are our need to feel important along we the need for self — expression. The approach described above is built on top of these two concepts. People don’t want to be antagonized, people want to be understood and have their opinions considered. People don’t want to be sold they want to buy, that is they want to reach their own conclusions. Make people feel important, lead them to the same conclusions as you in a subtle way and your chances of winning them to your point of view will improve.