It’s been a while since I started this project. For those who haven’t read the book, my advice is to do so, it’s an easy read, quite practical and based on extensive research. Dale Carnegie was a highly successful speaker, writer, and teacher in his day, and his lessons on human nature and interpersonal skills remain timeless and universal.
Each Part discusses a chapter from HTWFAIP. Surprise! Today we focus on chapter three: “He Who Can Do This Has the Whole World with Him. He Who Cannot Walks a Lonely Way.”
When you want something from a person, how do you go about getting it? Many of us try to use facts, or authority, or saying what we want and why, or threats, intimidation, or preaching. These methods often have seriously unpleasant and costly adverse effects, require time and effort, generate much resistance and ill will, and often enough fail to secure our goals. Not good!
It’s perfectly normal human nature to think of your own needs and wants first, and most of the time. As a result, efficient persuasion depends on a simple two-step process:
1) Figure out what someone wants, stoke that want to burn as hot as possible, and
2) Show them how to get it while serving your need at the same time.
In this way you help the other person, build good will, and reach your goal. Nice!
An example (fictional, based on my experience):
Mary had refused court-ordered antipsychotic medication for over a week when I met her, instead opting for the painful injections ordered if she refused pills. After we got to know each other a bit & built some rapport, I asked her: Mary, that’s an awful lot of suffering. Why not take the pills? I don’t get it. Help me understand.
She made sure no on else could hear her, then whispered that she was undercover CIA. They had spy cameras in this fake hospital and would punish her horribly if she showed any sign of coöperation. As it turned out, the cameras didn’t cover the exam room next door – I doubt she’d thought about it at all until I thought to ask. We took our discussion there. I promised her (quite honestly) that if she took the pills I’d document it as involuntary. She took the pills from that day on, and her psychotic fears soon vanished. It took a few minutes work, openness to her point of view and willingness to reason with her on her own terms. It spared her and the staff much pain and woe, many violent encounters, and all the risks involved. Mary appreciated my efforts, while psychotic and afterwords, and she was friendly and cooperative – towards me. I was the guy who helped her solve problems! Others offered intimidation, blunt facts that Mary considered lies, authority and the like. They caused Mary and themselves much pain, wasted lots of time, and swamped themselves in paperwork. There is a place for reality testing, but also a place for kindness, and diplomacy, and tact.
Notice the empathy that such work requires. You need to look at the situation from the other person’s point of view: how else can you figure out what they want, what they fear? Most people think of empathy as a gift, not as it actually is: essential, practical, crucial. They suffer poor results and don’t realize how much better they could do, IF they learned a new (to them!) approach and practiced it.
Empathy isn’t mind-reading. With practice you can develop a better intuition for it, but empathy is mostly a process of communication. Ask questions, get to know the other person, discuss their needs and desires. On the surface, it seems you’re putting their needs ahead or yours. Actually, you’re patiently helping them, because knowing and helping them are extremely practical ways to secure your own needs, AND quickly build strong relationships, without any trickery, intimidation, or conflict.
DC saw empathy, as the most important skill he offered. So few people bother with it! The empathic few stand out like fireworks in the dark. So little competition, and such spectacular results! Yet it’s not hard, especially given a bit of practice. For all those not in the know, it looks like magic or a trick. Trust me, people have often told me just that. It’s not magic, not is it a trick: it’s just acting on a sound grasp of human nature and doing right by people.
DC’s Principal Three: “Arouse in the other person an eager want.”
Principal One: “Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.”
Principal Two: “Give honest and sincere appreciation.”
Obvious? Perhaps. Yet only practice and use, not familiarity, produce results.
Few bother. The rest pay dearly and often.
Worth it, don’t you think, to learn some real magic?