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23. Dale Carnegie on Winning People to Your Way of Thinking

Dale Carnegie comes up with 12 ways of winning people to your point of view – again, nothing that should not be obvious, but how often do we hear people not following these guidelines, and how often do we not follow them ourselves?

Point 1: Avoid arguments – you are hardly ever going to win anyone to your point of view by arguing, however good you are at it. The natural reaction of most people when confronted with a forceful argument is to align themselves with the opposite point of view to test that argument. So you drive the person you want to persuade into opposing you more forcibly.

Point 2: Respect others opinions and NERVER say they are wrong. This is one of the best ways of avoiding an argument, and the more you understand where they are coming from and what is important to them, the more chance you have of finding an argument that they will want to agree with, supporting the action you want them to take.

Point 3: If you are wrong, admit it quickly and forcibly. We can all go down false trails in a discussion and make statements that are incorrect or cannot be justified. Nothing will win the person you are trying to influence more to take seriously what you say than the willingness to back-track, and unsay anything that on further thought you cannot justify. Trying to support a position you do not believe in yourself is unlikley to get the result you want – it may be OK in a debating society but not in the real world.

Point 4: Always begin in a friendly way: again, setting up an antagonistic scenario, a win-lose situation, is never going to bring successful results. The objective is to get the other person to come over to your view. So you have to get on the same side.

Point 5: Start with a question to which the other person will answer ‘yes’ – pschologically this helps get you on common ground from the start, and sets the scene for a win-win scenario rather than one of opposition.

Point 6: Let the other person do most of the talking. This is just good sales technique – the two ears and one mouth idea I mentioned previously. You can only win them over to your point of view if you understand what they think and how they think. This gives you the opportunity to pick up the clues which you need to win them over.

Point 7: Let the other person think that an idea, that emerges from where you have led them, is actually their idea. This can be a bit of an art because it relies on sowing ideas and questions that lead them to look at the issue from the point of view which supports what you want them to do.

Point 8: Try honestly to see things from their point of view: this will help you to modify your offering or position to accomodate their issues as much as is possible. If you are selling a product or service, it might allow you to highlight aspects which address their issues, or to offer feasible modifications which will do so.

Point 9: Sympathise with them. Again it puts you on the same side; both committed to trying to improve their position.

Point 10: Appeal to noble motives, where you can. Although this might not be actually why or how the person makes a decision, most people like to be seen as someone who operates with noble rather than mean intent (with the exception of a few curmudgeons who delight in being a problem to everyone else). So by appealing to noble motives, you are implying you believe they have them. The noble motive with a really hard-nosed negotiator might be his commitment to do the best for his company – so you might then tell him how he will be doing the best for his company by buying your product or service.

Point 11: Dramatise your ideas with analogies or stories. These can bring the issues to life for someone and help them ‘feel’ the benefit they might get.

Point 12: Throw down a challenge. This needs to be applied with care, but people do like to prove a point and as in Point 1 they are likely to react to it by trying to see if they can meet the challenge. This again enables you to set the agenda, rather than be driven by theirs.

If you follow these simple precepts, you will be working with the person you are trying to influence, working from their issues, beliefs and concerns to gradually give them a different or modified understanding which, most importantly, they believe they have found for themselves, rather than had imposed by you. It is a battle for hearts and minds, not a battle of wills.

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