These 12 secret techniques will show you how to win arguments are given in How to Win Friends and Influence People in its Part Three.
1. Avoid Arguments
There is only one way under high heaven to get the best of an argument – and that is to avoid it. Avoid it as you would avoid rattlesnakes and earthquakes. – Dale Carnegie
Buddha said: “Hatred is rarely terminated by hatred but by love,” and a misunderstanding is rarely terminated by an argument however by tactfulness, diplomacy, conciliation, and a sympathetic want to ascertain the opposite person’s viewpoint.
In 90% of the arguments ends with each participant thinking that he is right. A man convinced against his own opinion still believes in his own opinion.
You may be right in your argument; however, it won’t help you change the other person’s perspective.
How to Keep a Disagreement from Becoming an Argument
- Be thankful towards the disagreement: Remember this, “When two people always agree, one of them is not necessary.” There could be some point you haven’t thought about, it might change your perception if you listen carefully without being aggressive.
- Don’t Be Defensive: Our first natural reaction in an argument is to be defensive. While remaining calm, you can look out for your first reaction. Think before you speak.
- Control your temper: Remember that you anticipate a person by what makes him angry.
- Patiently Listen: Give the other person 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 bridges of misunderstanding.
- Try to find a common area of agreement: When you have heard the other person out, combine the points and areas on which you agree.
- Honesty is the best policy: Look for areas where you can accept your fault. You should always apologize for your mistakes. It will help you to make the other person powerless and reduce defensiveness.
- Assure the other person that you will think about their ideas: Do this sincerely as your opponents may be saying the right things. It is a lot easier at this stage to agree to think about their points than to move rapidly ahead and find yourself in a position where your opponents can say: “We tried to tell you, but you wouldn’t listen.
- I appreciate the other person for their interest sincerely: 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.
- Don’t react immediately and give both sides time to think through the disagreement: Suggest that a future meeting be held later that day or the next day when all facts may be brought on the table again.
2. Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never tell a person he or she is wrong.
One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing. – Socrates
Use a little diplomacy. Don’t argue with your customers or your spouse or your opponent. Don’t tell them they are wrong, don’t provoke them.
You will never get into trouble by accepting that you could 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.
Examples of application of this principle in real life :-
How Ben Franklin conquered his habit of arguing
(excerpts from Ben Franklin’s Autobiography)
Ben Franklin tells how he conquered the iniquitous habit of argument and transformed himself into one of the most able, suave and diplomatic men in American history.
One day, when Ben Franklin was a blundering youth, an old Quaker friend took him aside and lashed at him with a few stinging truths, something like this:
Ben, you are impossible. Your opinions have a slap in them for everyone who differs with you. They have become so offensive that nobody cares for them. Your friends find they enjoy themselves better when you are not around. You know so much that no man can tell you anything. Indeed, no man is going to try., for the effort would lead only to discomfort and hard work. So you are not likely ever to know any more than you do now, which is very little.
Ben was big enough and wise enough to realize that it was true, to sense that he was headed for failure and social disaster. So he made a right-about-face. He began immediately to change his insolent, opinionated ways.
“I made it a rule,” said Franklin, “to forbear all direct contradiction to the sentiment of others, and all positive assertion of my own. I even forbade myself the use of every word or expression in the language that imported a fix’d opinion, such as ‘certainly,’ ‘undoubtedly,’ etc., and I adopted, instead of them, “I conceive,’ I apprehend,’ or ‘I imagine’ a thing to be so and so, or ‘it so appears to me at present.’
“When another asserted something that I thought an error, I deny’d myself the pleasure of contradicting him abruptly, and of showing immediately some absurdity in his proposition; and in answering I began by observing that in certain cases or circumstances his opinion would be right, but in the present case there appear’d or seem’d to me some difference, etc.
“I soon found the advantage of this change in my manner; the conversations I engage’d in went on more pleasantly. The modest way in which I propose’d my opinions procur’d them a readier reception and less contradiction; I had less mortification when I was found to be in the wrong, and I more easily prevail’d with others to give up their mistakes and join with me when I happened to be in the right.
“And this mode, which I at first put on with some violence to natural inclination, became at length so easy, and so habitual to me, that perhaps for these fifty years past no one has ever heard a dogmatical expression escape me.
And to this habit (after my character of integrity) I think it principally owing that I had earned so much weight with my fellow citizens when I proposed new institutions, or alterations in the old, and so much influence in public councils when I became a member; for I was but a bad speaker, never eloquent, subject to much hesitation in my choice of words, hardly correct in language, and yet I generally carried my points.”
Today, let’s take Ben Franklin’s lead and show respect for others’ opinions and not tell a person he or she is wrong.
3. Dont Try To Defend Your Mistakes
By fighting you never get enough, but by yielding you get more than you expected. – Proverb
Any fool can try to defend his or her mistakes—and most fools do—but it raises one above the herd and gives one a feeling of nobility and exultation to admit one’s mistakes.
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 say them. The chances are a hundred to one that a generous, forgiving attitude will be taken and your mistakes will be minimized.
There is a certain degree of satisfaction in having the courage to admit one’s errors. It not only clears the air of guilt and defensiveness, but often helps solve the problem created by the error.
If we know we are going to be rebuked anyhow, isn’t it far better to beat the other person to it and do it ourselves? Isn’t it much easier to listen to self-criticism than to bear condemnation from alien lips?
Example of application of this principle in real life :-
Robert E. Lee’s Courage and Character in the Face of Defeat
For example, one of the most beautiful things that history records about Robert E. Lee are the way he blamed himself and only himself for the failure of Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg…
Lee was far too noble to blame others. As Pickett’s beaten and bloody troops struggled back to the Confederate lines, Robert E. Lee rode out to meet them all alone and greeted them with a self-condemnation that was little short of sublime. “All has been my fault,” he confessed. “I and I alone have lost this battle.” Few generals in all history have had the courage and character to admit that.
When we are right, let’s try to win people gently and tactfully to our way of thinking, and when we are wrong—and that will be surprisingly often if we are honest with ourselves—let’s admit our mistakes quickly and with enthusiasm.
4. Begin In A Friendly Way
A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.
The use of gentleness and friendliness is demonstrated day after day by people who have learned the old maxim that a drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.
So with men [and women], if you would win a person to your cause, first convince him/her that you are his/her sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his/her heart; which, say what you will, is the great high road to his/her reason.
A Fable About the Sun and the Wind
The sun and the wind quarreled about which was the stronger, and the wind said, “I’ll prove I am. See the old man down there with a coat? I bet I can get his coat off him quicker than you can.”
So the sun went behind a cloud, and the wind blew until it was almost a tornado, but the harder it blew, the tighter the old man clutched his coat to him.
Finally, the wind calmed down and gave up, and then the sun came out from behind the clouds and smiled gently on the old man. Presently, he mopped his brow and pulled off his coat. The sun then told the wind that gentleness and friendliness were always stronger than fury and force.
The sun can make you take off your coat more quickly than the wind; and kindliness, the friendly approach, and appreciation can make people change their minds more readily than all the bluster and storming in the world.
5. Get The Other Person Saying “Yes, Yes” Immediately
He who treads softly goes far – Chinese Proverb
The Secret of Socrates
It doesn’t pay to argue. It is much more profitable and much more interesting to look at things from the other person’s viewpoint and try to get that person saying “yes, yes.”
In talking with people, don’t begin by discussing 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.
The skillful speaker, salesperson and politician gets, at the outset, a number of “Yes” responses. This is the psychological process of moving the listener in the affirmative direction.
Be as Persuasive as Socrates
Socrates was one of the greatest philosophers the world has ever known. He sharply changed the whole course of human thought. Now, twenty-four centuries after his death, he is honored as one of the wisest persuaders who ever influenced this wrangling world.
His method? Did he tell people they were wrong? Oh, no, not Socrates. He was far too adroit for that. His whole technique, now called the “Socratic method,” was based upon getting a “yes, yes” response. He asked questions in which his opponent would have to agree and kept on winning one admission after another until he had an armful of yeses.
He kept on asking questions until finally, almost without realizing it, his opponents found themselves embracing a conclusion they would have bitterly denied a few minutes previously.
Understand the Psychology Science of “No” and “Yes”
A “No” response, according to Professor Harry Overstreet (author of Influencing Human Behavior, 1925), is a most difficult handicap to overcome. When you have said “No,” all your pride of personality demands that you remain consistent with yourself. Once having said a thing, you feel you must stick to it.
The psychological patterns here are quite clear. When a person says “No” and really means it, the entire organism—glandular, nervous, muscular—gathers itself together into a condition of rejection. The whole neuromuscular system, in short, sets itself on guard against acceptance.
When, to the contrary, a person says “Yes,” none of the withdrawal responses takes place. The organism is in a forward-moving, accepting open attitude. Hence, the more “Yeses” we can induce at the outset, the more likely we are to succeed in capturing the other person’s attention for our ultimate proposal.
The next time we are tempted to tell someone he or she is wrong, let’s remember old Socrates and ask a gentle question—a question that will get the “yes, yes” response we desire.
6. Let The Other Person Do A Great Deal Of The Talking
If you want enemies, excel your friends; but if you want friends,
let your friends excel you. – La Rochefoucauld
Remember the old adage: the creator gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason—to do at least twice as much listening as we do talking.
Most people trying to win others to their way of thinking do too much talking themselves. 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.
If you disagree with them you may be tempted to interrupt. But don’t. It is dangerous. They won’t pay attention to you while they still have a lot of ideas of their own crying for expression. So listen patiently and with an open mind. Be sincere about it. Encourage them to express their ideas fully.
Even our friends would much rather talk to us about their achievements that listen to us boast about ours.
So, today, let’s do twice as much listening as we do talking.
7. Let The Other Person Feel That The Idea Is His Or Hers.
In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. –
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The best way to convert a person to an idea is to plant it in their mind casually, but so as to interest them in it—so as to get them thinking about it on their own account.
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.
Don’t you have much more faith in ideas that you discover for yourself than in ideas that are handed to you on a silver platter? If so, isn’t it bad judgment to try to ram your opinions down the throats of other people? Isn’t it wiser to make suggestions—and let the other person think out the conclusion?
Sage Advice on Leadership from Lao-tse
Lao-tse, a Chinese sage, said, “The reason why rivers and seas receive the homage of a hundred mountain streams is that they keep below them. Thus they are able to reign over all the mountain streams. So the sage, wishing to be above men, putteth himself below them; wishing to be before them, he putteth himself behind them. Thus, though his place be above men, they do not feel his weight; though his place be before them, they do not count it an injury.”
Enjoy receiving enthusiastic cooperation by letting the other person feel the idea is his or hers.
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 persons’ viewpoint. –Dale Carnegie
Seeing things through another person’s eyes may ease tensions when personal problems become overwhelming.
There is a reason why the other person thinks and acts as he or she does. Ferret out that reason—and you have the key to their actions, perhaps to their personality. Try honestly to put yourself in his or her place.
Remember that other people may be totally wrong. But they don’t think so. Don’t condemn them. Any fool can do that. Try to understand them. Only wise, tolerant, exceptional people can try to do that.
Say to yourself, “How would I feel, how would I react if I were in his or her shoes?” You will save yourself time and irritation, for by becoming interested in the cause, we are less likely to dislike the effect. And, in addition, you will sharply increase your skill in human relationships.
Dr. Gerald S. Nirenberg, author of Getting Through to People, said…
“Cooperativeness in conversation is achieved when you show that you consider the other person’s ideas and feelings as important as your own. Starting your conversation by giving the other person the purpose or direction of your conversation, governing what you say by what you would want to hear if you were the listener, and accepting his or her viewpoint will encourage the listener to have an open mind to your ideas.”
Today, before asking anyone to buy your product or contribute to your favorite charity, why not pause, close your eyes and try to think the whole thing through from another person’s point of view? Gain clear understanding of his or her interests and motives. Ask yourself: “Why should he or she want to do it?”
Let’s increase our tendency to think always in terms of the other person’s point of view, and see things from that person’s perspective as well as our own.
9. Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
Three-fourths of the people you will ever meet are hungering and thirsting for sympathy. Give it to them, and they will love you. –Dale Carnegie
When we apologize and sympathize with others’ viewpoints, they tend to apologize and sympathize with ours.
Wouldn’t you like to have a magic phrase that would stop arguments, eliminate ill feeling, create good will, and make the other person listen attentively? Yes? All right. Here it is:
“I don’t blame you one iota for feeling as you do. If I were you I would undoubtedly feel just as you do.”
And you can say that and be 100 percent sincere, because if you were the other person you, of course, would feel just as he or she does.
Remember, the people who come to you irritated, bigoted, unreasoning, deserve very little discredit for being what they are. Feel sorry for the poor devils. Pity them. Sympathize with them. Say to yourself: “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”
When you receive a troubling or condemning letter, email or text that you feel compelled to defend in anger. By all means write out your reply… but don’t send it. Sit on it for two days. Then take it out, read it, and notice that you most likely have less emotion around the situation and a whole new perspective. Probably a different approach, tone and course of action has come to mind that will better serve all concerned.
Dr. Arthur Gates, author of Educational Psychology, said . . .
“Sympathy the human species universally craves. The child eagerly displays his injury; or even inflicts a cut or bruise in order to reap abundant sympathy. For the same purpose adults show their bruises, relate their accidents, illness, especially details of surgical operations. ‘Self-pity’ for misfortunes real or imaginary is, in some measure, practically a universal practice.”
Today, let’s chose to return kindness for insult and be sympathetic to others’ ideas and desires.
10. Appeal to the nobler motives.
A man always has two reasons for doing anything: a good reason and the real reason. –J.P. Morgan
An appeal that everybody likes
Dale Carnegie was reared on the edge of Jesse James country out in Missouri and visited the James farm at Kearney, Missouri, where the son of Jesse James was then living. His wife told Dale stories of how Jesse robbed trains and held up banks and then gave money to the neighboring farmers to pay off their mortgages.
Jesse James probably regarded himself as an idealist at heart, just as Dutch Schultz, Al Capone and many other organized crime “godfathers” did generations later. The fact is that all people you meet have high regard for themselves and like to be fine and unselfish in their own estimation.
J.P. Morgan observed in one of his analytical interludes, that a person usually has two reasons for doing a thing: one that sounds good and a real one. The person will think of the real reason. You don’t need to emphasize that. But all of us, being idealists at heart, like to think of motives that sound good. So, in order to change a person’s decision or behavior, appeal to the nobler motives.
Here are some nobler motives that people hold dear . . .
- An honorable person of your word
- Loving and respectful
- Reasonable and fair
- A good mother or father and protector of our children
So, if you want to influence someone’s decision or behavior today, appeal to their nobler motives.
11. Dramatize your ideas.
Movies do it. TV does it. Why don’t you do it? – Dale Carnegie
This is the day of dramatization. Merely stating the 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.
Choose a fresh approach—something new, something different—to get the other person intensely interested. Convey facts more vividly, more interestingly, more impressively, than pages of figures and mere talk.
You can dramatize your ideas in business or in any other aspect of your life. Dramatization even works with children as well.
Example of application of this principle in real life :-
How to get your children to pick up their toys . . .
Are you having difficulty getting your children to pick up their toys? If so, do as Joe Fant Jr. did.
Joe was having difficulty getting his five-year-old boy and three-year-old daughter to pick up their toys, so he invented a “train.” Joey was the engineer (Captain Casey Jones) on his tricycle. Janet’s wagon was attached, and in the evening she loaded all the “coal” on the caboose (her wagon) and then jumped in while her brother drove her around the room. In this way the room was cleaned up without lectures, arguments or threats.
If you are struggling to get someone’s attention in business or your personal life, dramatize the advantages offered by whatever is being sold or suggested.
12. Throw down a challenge
I have never found that pay alone would either bring together or hold good people. I think it was the game itself. –Harvey Firestone
When nothing else seems to work to motivate an individual or team, try throwing down a challenge. Here’s why:
- Frederic Herzberg, one of the great behavioral scientists of the twentieth century, studied in depth the work attitudes of thousands of people ranging from factory workers to senior executives. 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.
- Charles Schwab discovered that “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.” The desire to excel! The challenge! Throwing down the gauntlet! An infallible way of appealing to people of spirit.
- The motto of the King’s Guard in ancient Greece was, “All men have fears, but the brave put down their fears and go forward, sometimes to death, but always to victory.”
Every successful person loves the game. The chance for self-expression. The chance to prove his or her worth, to excel, to win. The desire for a feeling of importance.
Today, throw down a challenge that inspires an individual or team to greatness.
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