Minds and Influencing People
Have you ever tried to convince someone, perhaps a peer,
or someone in your organization, of something about which
you knew you were right, yet opposition seemed
insurmountable? If you're a Mac advocate, most likely, you
People are quick to label us "fanatics". In truth, we do
everything we can to legitimately earn that title. We get
angry, turn colors, make pointed statements, insult their
intelligence, become rude, and so on, because we are
frustrated and mystified that they are blind to what is
obvious to us. Yet, we will seldom win their opinion or
favor and will forever be labeled fanatic, unreasonable,
etc., if we continue with this behavior.
So it is not about the validity of what we have to say,
but rather, our presentation.
It is embarrassing that neither my undergraduate nor
graduate school business studies emphasized how to deal with
complex human interaction problems. I have no problem with
my studies from a scientific point of view. In that, the MBA
program did quite well teaching me how to analyze and make
strategic corporate decisions. Yet, my inability to
effectively deal with the human component, more than
anything, prevented me from attaining the corporate ladder
progress I desired.
I can aptly illustrate my plight by referring to an
article I wrote in the spring of 1998 titled "Corporate
Lunacy". If you read that article carefully, you will
understand that I "was" the fanatic I speak of today. With
my attitude at that time, there was little chance I was
going to influence anyone that had a counter opinion to
mine. The response to the article was incredible... readers
love it. Yet, who were these admiring readers? Certainly no
one that had a counter opinion to mine.
Sensing my own inadequacies, over the summer of '98, I
sought a book to help me remedy the situation. I picked up a
few books, one of which was "How
to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale
Carnegie. Previously, I had dismissed this book as a book
for "salesmen"... and I just was not interested. Boy, was I
Put simply, the book should be required reading for every
human being. Do not die without reading this book. Get it
now. Pay the $7.50 it costs and learn. This book has given
me direction and revelation second only to the Holy Bible
(and I'm no saint [colloq.]). Nearly every page of
this book humbled me. It became immediately clear to me why
I was unsuccessful convincing my peers and organization of
I summarized some of my favorite points and pasted them
to a "sticky note" so I can refresh my memory ever so often.
I want to share them with you now. Do not consider this
summary a substitute for the book. Read the book. The book
provides reasoning, examples, and stories that illustrate
perfectly why these points work. But more than that, by
reading the book, you will gain a depth of "understanding"
that is not afforded by these "cliff-notes". In fact, the
book recommends rereading several times... and I agree.
Further, without the book, these points are incomplete and
some may not make sense.
I call them simply, "Carnegies":
- Don't criticize, condemn or complain.
- Give honest and sincere appreciation.
- The only way to influence people is to talk about
what they want and show them how to get it.
- Ask yourself, "How can I make this person want to do
- Secret to success: "get the other person's point of
view and see things from that person's angle as well as
- Show how your service will solve their problems.
- Unselfishly try to serve others.
- Arouse in others an eager want.
- You can win the attention, time, and consideration of
the busiest people by becoming genuinely interested in
- Let us put ourselves out to do things for other
- Chinese proverb: "A man without a smiling face must
not open a shop".
- Remember that a person's name is to that person the
sweetest and most important sound in any language.
- Give exclusive attention to the person speaking to
- Encourage others to talk about themselves and their
- Talk in terms of the other person's interests.
Roosevelt, when expecting a visitor, set up late the
night before and studied the subject in which he knew the
visitor had a particular interest.
- Emerson said, "Every man I meet is superior to me in
some way. In that, I learn of him."
- The unvarnished truth is that every man you meet
feels superior to you in some way, and a sure way to
their hearts is to show them that you recognize their
importance, and do so sincerely.
- Simply, make the person feel important.
- As far as changing another's mind is concerned, you
will probably be just as futile as if you were
- Ben Franklin said, "If you argue and contradict, you
may achieve a victory sometimes; but it will be an empty
victory because you will never get your opponent's good
- The only way to get the best of an argument is to
- You can tell people they are wrong by a look or an
intonation or a gesture just as eloquently as you can in
words--and if you tell them they are wrong, do you make
them want to agree with you? Never! For you have struck a
direct blow at their intelligence, judgment, pride and
self-respect. That will make them want to strike back.
But it will never make them want to change their
- Never begin by announcing "I am going to prove
so-and-so to you." That is tantamount to saying: "I'm
smarter than you." That is a challenge and arouses
- If you are going to prove anything, don't let anybody
know it. Do it so subtly, so adroitly, that no one would
feel you are doing so.
- Men must be taught as if you taught them not... and
things proposed as things forgot.
- Begin with, "I could be wrong...".
- Forbid yourself to speak terms of fixed opinion, such
as: certainly, undoubtedly.
- Propose your opinions in a modest and humble
- Never say, "You are wrong."
- If you are wrong, admit it.
- Say about yourself all the derogatory things you know
the other person is thinking or wants to say or intends
to say--and say them before that person has a chance to
- Begin in a friendly way.
- In talking to people, don't begin by discussing the
things on which you differ. Begin by emphasizing and keep
on emphasizing--the things on which you agree. Keep
emphasizing, if possible, that you are both striving for
the same end and that your only difference is one of
method and not of purpose.
- When a person has said "no", all their pride demands
that they be consistent with themselves.
- "Yes" responses propel in one direction, and takes
some force to deflect it.
- When one says, "no"... his entire neuromuscular
system sets itself on guard against acceptance.
- Urge the person to give you their ideas. Let the
other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
- A good way to convert people is to casually plant the
thought in their mind and let them take credit.
- The success in dealing with people depends on a
sympathetic grasp of the other person's viewpoint.
- Govern what you say by what you would want to hear if
your were the listener, and accepting his viewpoint will
encourage the listener to have an open mind to your
- Tomorrow, before asking anyone to put out a fire or
buy your product or contribute to your favorite charity,
pause and try to think the whole thing through from
another person's viewpoint. Ask yourself: "Why should he
want to do it?"
- I would rather walk the sidewalk in front of a
person's office for two hours before an interview 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
- When people are upset, say "I don't blame you one
iota for feeling as you do. If I were you I would
undoubtedly feel just as you do."
- Whoever you meet, bigoted, unreasoning, etc., say to
yourself: "There, but for the grace of God, go I."
- Three-fourths of the people you will ever meet are
hungering and thirsting for sympathy. Give it to them and
they will love you.
- Appeal to the nobler motives.
- When no information can be secured about the
customer, the only sound basis on which to proceed is to
assume that he is sincere, honest, truthful, and willing
and anxious to pay the charges, once convinced they are
- Dramatize your ideas.
- Merely stating a truth isn't enough. The truth has to
be made vivid, interesting, dramatic. You have to use
showmanship. The movies do it. Television does it. And
you will have to do it if you want attention.
- When nothing else works, throw down a challenge! The
desire to excel appeals to people of spirit.
- The one major factor that motivated people was the
work itself. If the work was exciting and interesting,
the worker looked forward to doing it and was motivated
to do a good job. To win produces a feeling of
- Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
- Call attention to people's mistakes indirectly.
- Use 'and' instead of 'but'.
- Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing
- Ask questions instead of giving direct orders, "Is
there anything we can do to handle this shipment?"
- Let the other person save face... Hurting a man in
his dignity is a crime.
- Everyone likes to be praised, but when praise is
specific, it comes across as sincere.
- If you and I inspire the people with whom we come in
contact to a realization of the hidden treasures they
possess, we can do far more than change people. We can
literally transform them.
- If you wish to improve a characteristic of a person,
act as though that characteristic is theirs already.
- Give a person a fine reputation to live up to.
- Be liberal in your encouragement and make the thing
seem easy to do.
- Let the person know that you have faith in their
ability to do it and that they have a flair for it.
There they are, some of my favorite "Carnegies". Now
these Carnegies will not change your life -- YOU have to
change your life -- and it won't be easy. It takes time,
discipline, and hard knocks. I find myself wanting to do and
doing the very things that Carnegie teaches not to... still!
It is so much easier to criticize and insult rather than
reason and appreciate. No doubt, should you continue to read
my articles, you may find me guilty on occasion.
And if I may add my own "Carnegie" which I do not
remember Dale including in his book (nor do I claim this
idea, many authors before me have said the same). Anything
you write... an opinion, letter, suggestion... anything...
the higher the emotional content, the longer you should let
it set... days... even weeks, if particularly emotional.
This gives you time to cool down, inject more reasoning,
temper your own harshness, and see the other person's point
of view. Good advice...
One final note. If there is anything I have learned about
changing opinions, it is that the ensconced ones are more
likely to be changed with small, subtle seeds, and large
doses of time... years even, than large doses of impatience
and beating people over the head.