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Persuasive Coaching: Ask the Right Questions

A good coach is a lot like a good salesperson. A good salesperson never makes you feel pressured or sold. Using a combination of questions and a conversational tone a good salesperson helps the prospective customer uncover their needs. Next, the salesperson engages the prospective customer so he or she sees the right service or product to meet their needs.

In a similar way, a good coach will have a conversation where lots of questions are asked so the person being coached – the coachee –  feels like they came up with the solution to their challenges.

People who self-generate their own ideas will always be more committed to them than ideas that come from being told what to do. Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, clearly understood this when he encouraged readers to, “Let the other person feel the idea is theirs.”

Why is this approach so effect? Because of Robert Cialdini’s principle of consistency. The psychological principle tells us people feel internal psychological pressure as well as external social pressure to be consistent in what they say and do.

As little pleasure seekers and pain avoiders humans work hard to make sure their words and deeds line up. When we do what we say we’ll do we feel better about ourselves. We also look better to others when we consistently keep our word. Both are strong motivators of behavior.

Being more committed to whatever solution the person being coached comes up with isn’t the only benefit of asking good questions. Asking questions and engaging in dialog also helps shape the coachee’s thinking. The more they learn to critically think and solve their own problems the more self-sufficient they become. That independence usually means they can make more decisions and do so faster.

If you’ve raised kids you know how important it is to help them develop their thinking because mom and dad won’t always be around to answer questions. The same can be said of a coach.

I’ll close with a quote from Tom Hopkins, author of How to Master the Art of Selling. Tom tells audiences, “When you say it they doubt it but when they say it they believe it.” Ask the right questions and the person you’re coaching will believe in the answers they come up with, be more committed to their ideas, and will have learned how to solve their own problems.

My Name is Brian and You Are?

In his classic book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie wrote, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

There is no word that catches our attention more than our name. That’s why you can be in a noisy, crowded area, straining to listen to someone talk but all of a sudden if you hear your name you can easily tune into wherever it came from.

I share those insights because recently I had an experience because of my friend Loring Mellien, a.k.a. “Pud.” You might recall reading about Pud in a post about a month ago because of the joy he gets in helping others.

Something I’ve learned from observing Pud in the real world is the value of using people’s names. No matter where we are – a bar, restaurant, poolside talking to a DJ, on an Uber ride, Pud will always introduce himself and ask the other person’s name. Conversation instantly flows.

In my new role as Director of Learning at State Auto Insurance, I routinely walk into the building around 6:45 each morning. As I enter I see the same security guard behind a desk every day. He asks to see my ID badge, I ask how he’s doing, he asks how I am then I’m on my way to my office. Very generic stuff.

As I walked in not too long ago I wondered why I’d never bothered to ask his name since we see each other every day and there’s usually no one else around. I started to realize the more time passed the more awkward it would be to ask his name. After all, if a year went by it would be strange to finally ask, “What’s your name?” So I decided not to wait any longer. Taking a prompt from Pud I simply said, “I come in here every day and we say hi and it occurs to me I don’t know your name.” I stretched out my hand and said, “My name is Brian and you are?” He stood up with a smile on his face and said, “I’m Tom,” as he shook my hand. He looked genuinely happy and it made me wonder how many other people have bothered to ask him his name.

Later that day when he was in a different part of the building I waved from a distance and he smiled as he waved back. I’m sure things will be different every morning as I walk in now and that sometimes conversation will ensue instead of a simple hello.

Sharing this reminds me of a time when I was traveling many years ago. I went to Friday’s for dinner while in Nashville for business, sat at the bar with a copy of USA Today when all of a sudden the bartender said, “Hi, I’m Ryan,” sticking his hand out. He continued, “What’s your name?” I told him my name and noticed the whole evening felt different as he said, “How’s your food, Brian?” “Brian, need another beer?” “Thanks for coming in, Brian.” All of these phrases made me feel like a friend was waiting on me. It changed the experience for the good and his tip was better because of it.

Pretty simple stuff but like many simple things in life, we can either overlook them or get to a point where it seems weird or awkward to act on what we know we should do. Even though I teach this stuff it’s not always natural for me to be that outgoing. It takes effort whereas for some people it would take restraint not to be that outgoing. But the more I do it the easier it gets. A simple act like this will make your day better and make other people’s day better too. Not only that, you’ll meet some interesting people along the way and make some friends and that could come in handy down the road if you need a favor because it taps into the principle of liking.

So I challenge you this week – introduce yourself to strangers and ask their name. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

The Immediate Influence of Behavior

Have you ever read Viktor Frankl’s classic work Man’s Search for Meaning? If you haven’t I can’t recommend it enough! It’s one of the most impacting books I’ve ever read. Despite the sobering description of life in Nazi concentration camps the book has sold more than 12 million copies since it was first published in 1946.

I recently suggested the book to several friends, so I decided to reread the book myself…for no less than the sixth time. Each time I go back to it something new jumps out at me and this time the following quote stood out, “The immediate influence of behavior is always more effective than that of words.”

Think about that quote for just a moment. Frankl’s insight from life in with most horrible conditions lines up with other similar observations from other great thinkers.

“Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.” – Aristotle

“Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Words do matter because they conjure up images, thoughts and feelings that lead to actions. Frankl acknowledged this when he wrote, “But at times a word was effective too, when mental receptiveness had been intensified by some outer circumstances.” However, as someone who wants to be an effective persuader your words will fall on deaf ears if your words and deeds don’t line up. “Do as I say, not as I do,” won’t cut it. After all, if you don’t believe what you’re saying or you don’t adhere to the principles you espouse then why would anyone else?

Nobody is perfect and people don’t expect you to be perfect. When you fail your best bet is to follow Dale Carnegie’s wisdom, “If you’re wrong admit it quickly and emphatically.” I believe most people are forgiving and many times you’ll actually gain credibility when you own up to your mistakes. This taps into what Robert Cialdini calls the principle of authority and the studies he cites show you can gain trust by admitting weakness or mistakes. The sooner you ‘fess up the better.

I observed this not too long ago when State Auto’s CEO Mike LaRocco interacted with employees across the country in an open forum. Since his arrival last May, Mike has encouraged a culture that embraces candor. During the open forum someone spoke up about fear of reprisal from managers when being candid and Mike made a flippant remark and basically blew off the person’s concern. But almost immediately he caught himself and said his response was wrong. He then proceeded to address the concern. Not only did his actions stand out to me, they stood out to many others I spoke with afterwards. He’s talking the talk and more importantly, he’s walking the walk.

So to come full circle, if you want to be effective when it comes to influencing others start with yourself and remember Frankl’s immortal wisdom, “The immediate influence of behavior is always more effective than that of words.” Be a person of consistency and integrity and you’ll enjoy far more professional success and personal happiness.

If You are Wrong – Tom Brady – Admit it Quickly and Emphatically

I don’t know about you but I’m sick and tired
of athletes getting caught red-handed cheating or involved in some scandal only
to defiantly maintain their innocence. Pete Rose, Lance Armstrong, A-Rod come
to mind and now Tom Brady has joined the list. Eventually the truth comes out
and each person only compounded his problems with the lies that ensued. Of
course, this issue isn’t limited to just athletes. We’ve all seen our fair
share of politicians, religious leaders, businesspeople and many others go
through the same thing.

Just once I’d like to hear someone say, “I did
it. It was wrong. No excuses and now I’m willing to bear whatever punishment
comes my way.” 
The public doesn’t care why they did what they
did because it’s all excuses. My old high school football coach said it best,
“Excuses are like a—holes. Everybody has one and they all stink!” The only thing
people care about is what they did.
Lying after getting caught only compounds
cheating. Thus the well-known saying, “The cover up is worse than the crime.”
When will they learn? I realize a lot is at stake, but had each of the aforementioned
people taken their medicine when they were caught, odds are they’d be back in
the good graces of the public by now. Tiger Woods, as horrible as his behavior
was, fessed up, sought help, and is in a much better place than Pete, Lance,
A-Rod or Tom.
Football is a game of inches. Sometimes the
slightest advantage makes all the difference between winning and losing. But
the point is not whether or not deflating a football a little bit makes a
difference or not, or whether fans and players think the rule is silly,  IT’S THE RULE.
The issue with Tom Brady is twofold. First, he
chose to break the rule and only did so because he felt it would be an advantage
for him. If he didn’t think balls with slightly less pressure would help he
wouldn’t have instructed others to let a little air out. Like the rule or not,
he knowingly broke it.
Second, and more important now, he lied about
it. For most people when everything is on the line we see their true character.
Sometimes people choose to risk life and limb for others but most people focus
just on themselves. That’s the choice Tom Brady made.
In Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends and Influence People,
he has some great advice under the section Be a Leader (something Tom Brady is
supposed to be):
“When you’re wrong, admit it quickly and
emphatically.”
Carnegie’s advice taps into Robert Cialdini’s
principle of authority. One shortcut to gain credibility with others is to
admit weakness or mistakes before the other person brings them. In doing so
you’ve viewed as more truthful.
If I were in the NFL, I might get flagged for
a 15-yard penalty for “piling on” with this blog post. I don’t dislike Tom
Brady or the New England Patriots. In fact, I was pulling for them to win the
Super Bowl years ago when they had a chance to go undefeated because it would
have been a historic event. But no longer can I root for them at all because it
seems at every turn Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the organization are
embroiled in controversy over the rules. When there’s smoke there’s usually
fire. Admit you started the fire and do all you can to prevent any more from
starting!
Here’s my final thought: Tom Brady needs to
grow a pair and take his punishment like a man. Of course, maybe he already has
a pair but if so, then they’re obviously a bit deflated too. 
Brian Ahearn, CMCT® 
Chief Influence Officer
influencePEOPLE 
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

The Messenger Can Make All the Difference

Sometimes it’s not what you say but how you say it that can make all the difference. And sometimes it’s not what is said but who said it that makes all the difference.

I bet most of you would agree that our children are vitally important to our future. After all, at some point each of us will be retired and the fortunes of our investments and the direction of our country will be in the hands of the next generation – our children.

The late Whitney Houston said as much in her enormously popular hit song, Greatest Love of All. The song opens:

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way

There’s another well-known quote that goes like this, “He alone who owns the youth gains the future.” Any idea who said that? If you’re like most people you probably didn’t know it was Adolf Hitler. I’m guessing despite the reality that children are our future and that you might have even agreed with the quote, it probably doesn’t sit well with you now that you know who said it.

Sometimes the messenger can make all the difference! If Whitney Houston had sung, “He alone who owns the youth gains the future,” and Adolf Hitler had said, “I believe the children are our future.

Teach them well and let them lead the way,” we’d all feel exactly the opposite about the quotes.

This comes to mind because a church in Alabama used the Hitler quote on a billboard to advertise their youth group! There may be truth to Hitler’s words but no one with any gumption about how to persuade would try to use Hitler’s words in a positive way because he’s considered one of the most evil people to ever walk the planet. Would you want to send your kids to a youth group that’s quoting Hitler?

In persuasion the principle of authority tells us it’s easier for people to say yes to those who have superior wisdom or knowledge. To effectively use this principle of influence you need two things – expertise and credibility. Without both you’ll never succeed. For example, Bernie Madoff has expertise. Despite his pyramid scheme, he does know about investing. But would you trust him with your money? I hope not!

On the flip side, you probably have friends you’d trust your life with … but not your money, because they have no expertise when it comes to investing.

Whether it’s investing, taxes, legal advice, etc., we want people we can trust and those we view as having expertise if we’re to do what they suggest.

Authority can also be borrowed. When I present I use lots of quotes from well-known people. I do so for a couple of reasons.

First, if I say something, people might agree with me, but if Dale Carnegie, Ronald Reagan or Dr. Martin Luther King say it, people will more easily agree because their reputations precede them.

Second, my use of quotes shows I’m well-read and that does add to my personal authority. If people view me as well-read then they naturally assume I’m smarter for it and are therefore more willing to listen to what I have to say.

However, when I choose to use a quote I’m conscious of what it says AND who said it. Many infamous people have made true statements (even a broken clock is right twice a day!) but I would almost never use them because the reaction would be the same as your reaction to Hitler’s quote.

Here’s the bottom line if you’re looking to be a master persuader. Keep your reputation intact so people trust you and continue to develop expertise in your chosen field. When you need to borrow authority, make sure the quote and messenger will both be acceptable to your audience. Do these simple things and your ability to get to yes will go up rather dramatically.

Persuading Einstein and Members of AARP

I just finished Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Issacson. Excellent book!
Issacson also wrote another very interesting biography I read a few years ago, Steve Jobs. His book on Einstein was so well
written and portrayed Einstein in such a way that I was sad at the end to read
about his death because I felt like I was just getting to know him.
We all have notions of Einstein from school,
quotes we’ve read, movies we’ve seen and various other sources. Some of what we
learned was true and much was fairy tale or at least exaggeration. What
fascinated me about Einstein was how much of a rebel he was in his youth and
how much he was willing to change as he got older when the facts warranted
change.
As we get older, change gets harder. In some
sense we’ve honed what works for us and those patterns or habits – which
include speech and thought – are no exception. We think what we think and do
what we do because we believe it’s the right way or the best way given the
situation. Dale Carnegie understood this and that’s why one of his tips from How to Win Friends and Influence People
encourages us to “show respect for the other person’s opinion and never say, ‘You’re
wrong.’” Never forget, right or wrong, people have reasons for what they do.
Beyond being stereotyped as “set in their
ways” is there any proof that older people are more difficult to persuade?
Actually there is. A study mentioned in Robert Cialdini’s Influence Science and Practice noted, “in a follow-up study
employing subjects from ages 18 to 80, we found that preference for consistency
increased with the years and that, once beyond the age of 50, our subjects
displayed the strongest inclination of all to remain consistent with their
earlier commitments (Brown, Asher, & Cialdini, 2005).”
So as we age it’s natural to cling tightly to
closely held beliefs, attitudes, values, and ways of doing things. As most of
you reading this know, it can be darn hard to change someone’s mind, especially
as they grow older.
So what’s this have to do with our friend Albert
Einstein? On one hand he seemed to cling stubbornly to his view of the universe
and dismissed some newer science including quantum mechanics. Without going
into detail on either issue, suffice it to say that despite lots of data on
quantum mechanics, there were a few important questions Einstein could not
reconcile in his head. Had someone been able to help him do that he might have
changed his mind and abandoned his search for a unified theory.
Being an analytic personality, Einstein would
naturally cling to his beliefs because he so thoroughly thought them through.
You’d need data to convince him AND you’d need to do so at the points that were
of most concern to him. No scientist could convince him that we can never truly
tell a particle’s exact position and momentum (a tenant of quantum mechanics).
Scientists believe we can only guess at those two things but Einstein could not
reconcile that in his mind so he held to his earlier beliefs about the universe.
On the flip side there was something very dear
to Einstein’s heart that he eventually did change his mind about. He was an
ardent pacifist in his younger days and believed if people would refuse
military service there would never be a need for military action by nations.
His view on this was shaped by the horror of World War I and the unparalleled
destruction it brought on the world at that time.
Through the early 1930s he held onto this
view. However, with the rise of Hitler and the Nazis in Germany he began to
re-examine that view. While he never embraced war, he came to believe people
should enlist to defend freedom. He was also instrumental in getting President
Roosevelt to start exploring nuclear technology and was against unilateral
disarmament towards the end of his life because of the imbalance of power it
would cause.
Why did he change? He was confronted with
facts and the reality was the stakes were too high to be wrong.
As you attempt to persuade people you’d do well to consider where they are in their life cycle. Teenagers and younger people have not developed the same groove older people have. It’s easier for them to experiment and quite often there is much less at stake for them in terms of loss should they make a mistake.
However, as people get older and
responsibilities increase, scarcity – the fear of loss –
also plays into the equation too. Changing jobs when you have a family or child
getting ready for college changes the equation for many people. The stakes are
much higher for a wrong decision.
Helping minimize fear of loss becomes very important,
as does the ability to tie your request to consistency – what someone has
said or done in the past, what they hold as far as values and beliefs. And when
you try to tie into consistency make sure there’s not some other point that’s
most important for the other person otherwise you’ll hear, “Yes, but…” That was
Einstein’s retort to the physicists who pushed quantum mechanics.
As is the case with sales, persuasion comes
down to knowing your audience and their “hot buttons.” Once you know those two
things, crafting you argument becomes much, much easier.  
Brian Ahearn, CMCT® 
Chief Influence Officer
influencePEOPLE 
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.


Cialdini “Influence”
Series!
 Would you like to learn more about
influence from the experts? Check out the Cialdini “Influence” Series featuring Cialdini
Method Certified Trainers from around the world. 

Listen to Dale Carnegie Tips at CinchCast

Last year I began recording influence and persuasion tips on a site called CinchCast.com. I did this because I realize people have different learning styles.

Now it’s part of my routine each morning to record an influence tip before I start my day. Towards the end of the last year I began sharing Dale Carnegie’s advice on How to Win Friends and Influence People in audio format. For each piece of Carnegie advice I recorded a three to five minute audio clip at CinchCast.com. To listen to the introduction to the series click here.

Below you’ll see the different sections of How to Win Friends and Influence People, the corresponding advice Carnegie shares with readers and links to my audio clips. I encourage you to click on the audio links so you can hear an expanded version of each tip.

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
1 Don’t criticize, condemn or complain. Audio
2 Give honest, sincere appreciation. Audio
3 Arouse in the other person an eager want. Audio

Six Ways to Make People Like You
4 Become genuinely interested in other people. Audio
5 Smile. Audio
6 Remember their name. Audio
7 Be a good listener & encourage others to talk about themselves. Audio
8 Talk in terms of the other person’s interests. Audio
9 Make the other person feel important. Audio

How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking
10 Avoid arguments. Audio
11 Show respect for other’s opinions and never say, “You’re wrong.” Audio
12 If you are wrong, admit it quickly & emphatically. Audio
13 Begin in a friendly way. Audio
14 Get the other person to say “yes” immediately. Audio
15 Let the other person do a great deal of the talking. Audio
16 Let the other person feel the idea is theirs. Audio
17 Try to see things from the other’s point of view. Audio
18 Be sympathetic to other’s ideas and desires. Audio
19 Appeal to the nobler motives. Audio
20 Dramatize your ideas. Audio
21 Throw down a challenge. Audio

Be a Leader: How to Encourage People to Change without Giving Offense
22 Begin with praise and honest appreciation. Audio
23 Call attention to mistakes indirectly. Audio
24 Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing. Audio
25 Ask questions instead of giving direct orders. Audio
26 Let the other person save face. Audio
27 Praise the slightest, and every improvement. Audio
28 Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to. Audio
29 Use encouragement and make the fault seem easy to correct. Audio
30 Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest. Audio

I hope you find this a useful way to learn How to Win Friends and Influence People. Last week I finished a series on building strong relationships. To see those tips just click on the relationship album at the top of the CinchCast page. As I shared earlier, I record a tip each day so look for updates daily on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Brian
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

The Apology Heard Around the World

You’ve probably heard the familiar saying, “Timing is everything.” When I hear that I joke with people and tell them, “That’s true unless you’re in real estate. Then it’s location, location, location.” As timing would have it, perhaps the most famous person alive gave the apology heard around the world last week. After months of speculation Tiger Woods finally addressed the public concerning his issues with infidelity. What’s this have to do with timing? It just so happens to coincide with the next bit of Dale Carnegie advice I was going to share – If you’re wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.

I wrote about the Tiger Woods’ situation in December, approaching it from the context of character. I tried to drive home that we can’t do anything about Tiger and all our water cooler talk is worthless. It turns out that all the speculation about Elin and his car accident were wrong if you believe Tiger’s apology. I’m going to take him at face value because part of the rehab process is coming clean with the truth and making amends. Assuming his account of that night is the truth then the media outlets and many people wasted a lot of time on that issue. The point of my post was simply this; we can use Tiger’s situation to reflect on ourselves and try to become better people.

The point of this week’s post is to get all of us to reflect on ourselves when we make a mistake. Lots of people think Tiger waited too long to apologize and that his words were not his own but those of a PR firm. That may be true or it may not. I don’t have a PR firm representing me and I bet you don’t either, so we don’t have to worry about that getting in the way of our credibility when we choose to apologize.

When we do make a mistake the quicker we own up to it the less time there is for speculation by others. Once people start down that path they begin to convince themselves they’re right. In Tiger’s case, no matter what he or Elin says about Thanksgiving night, many people are so firmly entrenched in what they believe happened that they might never believe anything different.

So how does this apply to you and I and what we can learn from all this? If we can prevent that speculation from taking root when we make mistakes then wouldn’t it be the smart thing to do? Here are a few examples of people who should have done just that. Not too long ago Alex Rodriguez came clean about steroids. The problem was, A-Rod lied to Katie Couric about it on national television when asked a few years earlier. The late admission was seen as a way to manage his career rather than a genuine apology for something he knew was wrong. Had he been truthful with her I think he would have been revered because he would have been the first baseball player to come forth without having the pressure of an investigation or congressional hearings.

Mark McGwire is in the same boat. Nobody is buying his apology because he lied to Congress about his steroid use. Had he admitted the truth at that time I think public opinion would be much better right now. As it is, most people see his apology as just the necessary step to get back into the game of baseball and possibly the hall of fame one day.

The American public is forgiving when people come clean about mistakes and back it up by living a changed life. I think on an individual level people are very much the same. When I’ve made mistakes and took steps to own up to them I’ve found people willing to extend grace to me. I think of the time when I was a jerk on the road driving in to work one morning. For quite some time I refused to let someone over as we approached the exit. I could have tapped the brakes, been a nice guy and let the driver over but I chose not to and eventually the driver got behind me. It turned out the person I was a jerk to happened to be a coworker who saw me pull into the parking lot. I knew he knew it was me on the highway so I made the choice to apologize. I got a very nice email from him saying we all make mistakes but he knew I was the kind of person who would own up to it. I think we’re better friends today than we were before the incident.

So here’s the bottom line. Don’t waste your time speculating on all the aspects of Tiger’s apology, his sincerity, when he’ll play again, if he and Elin will stay together, etc., because none of that will make you a better individual. Learn from his situation and use it to grow as a person. Next time you make a mistake own up to it quickly. Like anything, if you start with the small stuff it will make it easier when the bigger stuff comes around because you’ll have built character. Make that choice and you’ll become a person of authority and influence because you’ll have credibility.

Brian
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

Just a Little Respect Please

A few weeks ago we looked into some great advice for maintaining good relationships – avoid arguments whenever possible. This week we consider another Dale Carnegie tip that can make that a little easier –Show respect for other’s opinions and never say, “You’re wrong.”Aretha Franklin sang about R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Showing respect to someone is acknowledging their worth as a human being. We may not like the person we’re dealing with but we can still treat them with dignity. Think about how you’d want someone to treat a loved one; your spouse, a parent or your child. The person you’re dealing with probably falls into one of those categories and has someone who hopes they’re treated with respect.My worldview is a Christian one and my faith tells me all people are created in the image of God. It also teaches me that I’m to love my neighbor as myself. In light of those two tenents, showing respect for another person seems like the least I can do. You may not hold the same faith as I do but I hope you can agree that every human has value and should be treated with dignity and respect.When you don’t show respect you can be sure the other person won’t be open to listen and will probably just look for an opportunity to disrespect you. It becomes a game of “tit for tat” which accomplishes nothing.Now onto the second part of Carnegie’s advice, never say “You’re wrong.” What’s so bad about that? Sometimes people are flat out wrong! Someone might erroneously state something as fact when it can easily be proven to be incorrect. Example, “Ronald Reagan was the37th President of the United States.” It would not be incorrect to say, “You’re wrong. He was the 40th President. Google it and you’ll see.”However, let’s think about it for a moment. If your goal is to win friends and influence people (not make enemies and alienate others) then you might want to approach the situation a bit differently. It requires tact and strategy.First, never forget people have a vested interest in being right, especially when others are present. It can be embarrassing to know you made a mistake and it’s significantly worse when you feel others know about it. Saying, “You’re wrong” to someone is like pouring salt on a wound…it will produce a sharp reaction!Most people will naturally push back when pushed and that occurs emotionally as well as physically. When you tell people they’re wrong, they usually don’t want to give you the satisfaction of being right (winning) so they’ll look for any reason they might have been justified in what they said or did…no matter how wrong you might think they are. This happens naturally because of the psychological principle of consistency. People feel the need to be consistent in what they say and do so they’ll manufacture reasons to support their actions. If you recognize this you can work around it rather than against it.You and I might agree on many things that are wrong. For example, stealing. I bet everyone reading this would agree taking what’s not yours is wrong. However, even criminals quite often believe they were justified in breaking the law. Their reasons may not be valid to you but they have their reasons.Rather than confronting someone head on, try an end around. If you think someone is wrong, ask the person questions that might help you lead down a different path, one that might allow the individual to consider other alternatives. This is especially valuable because if a person feels he or she has discovered the solution, and it wasn’t forced upon them, they are more likely to change their mind. Remember, your goal isn’t to be right; it’s about preserving a relationship.Here would be a non-threatening way to approach the Reagan fact, “Really, President Reagan was the 37th President? I didn’t know that. Do you remember where you heard that or read it because I thought he was 40th or 41st. Now I’m curious. Wait a second and I’ll do a quick Google search on my phone and find out.” This never implies “You’re wrong and I’m right” and allows the person to save face if others are around.I assume you’re reading this blog because you want to improve your ability to communicate, learn to be persuasive, enjoy your relationships with other people more and have a little less stress. Making a choice to show respect for other’s opinions and never say, “you’re wrong,” will go a long ways towards making those goals become reality.Brian
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

Dale Carnegie and Sun Tzu on Avoiding Arguments

We’ve made some really good headway looking at tips from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. In case you’re a newer reader, below you’ll see what we’ve covered so far. Click on any tip and you’ll be taken to the Influence PEOPLE article for that piece of timeless advice from Dale Carnegie.

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
Give honest, sincere appreciation.
Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Six Ways to Make People Like You
Become genuinely interested in other people.
Smile.
Remember their name.
Be a good listener & encourage others to talk about themselves.
Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
Make the other person feel important.

Now we move into the section of the book that teaches “How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking” and the advice we start with is probably Carnegie’s best advice – avoid arguments. Sounds easy enough but sometimes it seems unavoidable.
Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War, a book about conflict, sometime around 500 BC. He had this to say about fighting, “It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.” In a nutshell Sun Tzu is saying only pick the conflicts you know you can win or else avoid the conflict altogether. Arguing is a type of conflict and quite often it can be avoided IF you’re honest with yourself and your assessment of another. This is similar to the general knowing his army as well as the enemy’s. For us this simply means, if you know what sets you off you can avoid people or situations that are likely to make that happen. Let’s start with ourselves. Unfortunately, knowing yourself isn’t so easy. That’s why Ben Franklin said, “There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” We have blind spots and sometimes we don’t want to face the truth. But, if we’re willing to make the hard self-assessment we’ll come to learn our strengths and weaknesses.By the same token, when you know another person you can seek to avoid their triggers. Let’s consider the other person for a moment. It could be your spouse, boss or a friend but usually we have conflict with those who are closest to us. That’s just a sad fact of life. The good news is this; you probably know them well enough to know how to avoid the triggers that usually lead to conflict. For example, here’s one for the guys to avoid: You ask your wife to buy a case of Miller Light for$14.95, but instead she buys a jar of cold cream for $7.95. DON’T tell her the beer would make her look better at night than the cold cream! Ladies, you want to avoid telling Mr. Right he’s like a bank account – without money he doesn’t generate much interest.Both of those funny little jokes are sure to start an argument. Will you always avoid arguments? No. But, taking account of yourself and another can go a very long way to make the avoidance a reality. You could take the really high road and follow the advice Jesus gave his disciples, “Love your enemies.” Ouch, now that’s hard! Loving your enemies doesn’t mean feeling towards them the way you might with your parents, spouse or kids. No, love is a verb, a “doing” word. It’s placing the welfare of the other person above your own no matter the cost because it’s the right thing to do. Love your enemies and you won’t have enemies for long and you’ll have very few arguments.And think about this; who wins an argument? There’s always a jokester who says, “Me!” but in reality nobody wins. Oh sure, you may be “right” but is it worth it when being “right” damages or kills the relationship? Far too many people never speak to loved ones or friends because of arguments over things that seemed important but really weren’t. So resolve to yourself to do whatever is in your power to avoid arguing. That may mean having to let someone feel like they’re right. Big deal, especially if you know in your heart that you are right. Never lose sight of the goal, to win a friend or influence someone. ** FREE GIVE AWAY ** It would mean a lot to me if you’d help increase Influence PEOPLE readership by forwarding this blog to some friends or co-workers. Do so and you could win a copy of Dr. Cialdini’s book Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive. If you’re currently receiving email notification then you’re already registered to win! If you’ve not signed up for automatic notification then send me an email (BFA654@gmail.com) after you’ve shared the blog with someone and I’ll register you for the drawing. The lucky winner will be announced on next week’s posting. Thanks in advance, I appreciate your help! Brian
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”