Win People to Your Way of Thinking (HTWFAIP - Part 3)

written in htwfaip, soft skills

Third post of the series. Today: some advice on how to convince people to your way of thinking. This is a long, but juicy post.

1. You can’t win an argument

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 (“You have made him feel inferior. You have hurt his pride. He will resent your triumph.”). Distrust your first instinctive impression. Our first natural reaction in a disagreeable situation is to be defensive. Be careful. 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. 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.

2. Show respect for the other person’s opinions

Never say, “You’re wrong.”: Never begin by announcing ‘I am going to prove so-and-so to you.’ That’s bad. Do it so subtly, so adroitly, that no one will feel that you are doing it. 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.

3. When wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically

Say about yourself all the derogatory things you know the other person is thinking or wants to say—and say them before that person has a chance to. The chances are a hundred to one that a generous, forgiving attitude will be taken and your mistakes will be minimised.

4. Begin in a friendly way

Gentleness and friendliness were always stronger than fury and force.

5. Get the other person saying “yes, yes”

Begin by emphasising – and keep on emphasising – the things on which you agree. Keep emphasising, if possible, that you are both striving for the same end and that your only difference is one of method and not of purpose. The skillful speaker gets, at the outset, a number of ‘Yes’ responses.

6. Let the other person do lots of the talking

Let the other people 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. Almost every successful person likes to reminisce about his early struggles.

7. Let the other person feel ownership of the idea

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.

8. Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view

Success in dealing with people depends on a sympathetic grasp of the other person’s viewpoint. ‘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.’

9. Be sympathetic towards the other person’s ideas and desires

The magic words: “I don’t blame you one iota for feeling as you do. If I were you I’d undoubtedly feel the same.” And mean it!

10. Appeal to the nobler motives

If you have no other evidence, assume that a customer is honest, truthful, and willing to pay the charges if they are convinced that they are correct.Even those who aren’t naturally honest will often react well if you show that you consider them to be honest and fair.

11. Dramatize your idea

Merely stating a truth isn’t enough. The truth has to be made vivid, interesting, dramatic. You have to use showmanship.

12. Throw down a challenge

People love the work they are doing, and being great at it.Charles Schwab: “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.”