HTWFAIP: Persuasion

HTWFAIP: Persuasion

Back again with another chapter analysis from Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People.

By synthesizing and sharing what I read I hope to leave you with some new and interesting ideas (as well as reinforce ideas that I have read about 😀).

Let’s get to it:

Often we find ourselves needing something from someone else, whether that be information, cooperation, buy-in, money, a sale, you name it.

When it comes to these situations, it’s important to remember that there’s not a single person out there who gives a damn about what you want them to do. People are selfish.

People are Selfish

In the 200,000 years since modern humans have been around, one common trait has evolved in us: survival. This is for good reason: if our ancestors were selfless, all-caring saints when it came to what others needed, they themselves would not have survived to pass on their genes.

In an environment where only the strong survive, only those that were able to secure food, water, and shelter for themselves were able to produce offspring and thus pass on their traits to the next generation. Fast forward through roughly 8,000 generations of humans in those 200,000 years, and it becomes clear that our current existence was entirely dictated by the humans before us who were selfish enough to survive and reproduce.

The significance is this: inside all of us is an unconscious motor always looking for ways to make itself better off with more security to ensure survival, for example: more food, more shelter, more status, more power, more resources, etc..

Do you notice how nowhere in there have we evolved to be dedicated to the needs of others? And why should we be? Others evolved in the same ways we did: with a constant look-out for themselves, meaning those that could take care of themselves passed on genes, and those that couldn’t didn’t.

People Do Things for Themselves

Realizing people are inherently and biologically selfish brings us to the main idea of this post:

People don’t do things because of what you want. They do things because of what they want.

Outside of a gun being held to your head, no one does anything without wanting to do it.

  1. If you buy a fancy watch, it’s because you want the style and the status that the watch brings. If I came to you and said “Buy my watch”, would you? No! It’s not clear how you stand to benefit from that transaction.
  2. If you donate to charity, it’s because you WANT to support the charity (or you want to not feel bad about saying no to charity).
  3. If you drive the speed limit, it’s because you want to drive safely or because you don’t want a ticket. If you drive above the speed limit it’s because you want to get to your destination faster.

No matter what choices you make, all of them boil down to what you want. And it works just the same for others.

Persuasion isn’t making somone do something. It’s making them want to do something.

Henry Ford once said: “If there is anyone secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other persons point of view and see things from that person's angle as well as from your own".

In this context, his quote means that by understanding another’s point of view, we can persuade others by showing how they stand to gain from our offers.

Dale Carnegie uses a personal example to illustrate what strong persuasion looks like:

When teaching his communication course, Carnegie rented a lecture hall from a hotel in Manhattan. One year, after he had already sent out invitations, materials, information, and reserved the dates with the hotel, he received a letter telling him his rents were going up by 300%. The hotel cited their new policy and demand for the rooms as the reasons.

The natural reaction for anyone would be to get angry with the person doing this to us. “How could they do this? So close to our start date? I need to give whoever’s in charge a piece of my mind!”

Carnegie did none of this. He walked into the hotel manager’s office and leveled with him: “I don’t blame you at all. Your duty as the manager of the hotel is to make all the profit possible. If you don’t do that, you will be fired and you ought to be fired.”

He proceeded to pull out a sheet of paper and write ‘Advantages’ on one half and ‘Disadvantages’ on the other.

For advantages, he listed “Ballroom free” and told the manager that if he insists on the rent increase he would have 20 more nights to rent out the room to big events such as weddings and conventions. Surely those large events would pay up for a nice room.

For disadvantages, he wrote 2 things:

  1. “Loss of income”: Carnegie would have to take his business elsewhere and the hotel would have to rebook 20 nights or get nothing.
  2. “Free marketing”: Carnegie told the manager that his lectures attracted some of the most highly educated and cultured people in New York and that Carnegie was paying the hotel to bring them there. He said that the hotel could spend $70,000 on advertising and not be able to bring that many potential customers through the door to admire the hotel.

He left the paper with the manager and asked him to consider his position. The next day he was informed his rent was only increasing 50%.

After his successful negotiation he wrote this: “I got this reduction without saying a word about what I wanted. I talked all the time about what the other person wanted and how he could get it.”

Suppose he had done what anyone else may have and stormed into the manager’s office demanding he change his ways: “How dare you increase my rent! You know our event starts in just days! You’re going to cost me a fortune!”

Do you believe Carnegie would have gotten the same result?

Of course not! The hotel manager did not give a gosh darn about what Carnegie wanted. He only cared for what the hotel needed: profit. Carnegie was able to win the manager over by showing him how he could still make himself better off without increasing the rent 300%.

In other words, the manager did not decrease the rent increase because Carnegie wanted him to. He did it because HE recognized the benefits for himself!

By thinking about what others want, we can tailor our efforts towards helping others get something that they want.

And keep in mind that if you’re asking for something and you genuinely can’t think of any way the other person stands to benefit, you need to rethink about what you’re asking, because at that point you’re solely self-seeking and no one will want to help you.

If you’re asking for volunteer support, show them how their contribution supports a larger mission they care about.

If you want your kid to play outside, show them how much fun you have playing outside.

If you want a job, show the hiring manager how they stand to gain from hiring you.

If you want an investment, show how their money will come back them.

Final Word

If you take anything away from this, let it be this:

No one cares about what you want. If you want anything from anyone, you must clearly show how they stand to gain from doing it.

If you don’t, there’s no reason for them to do anything. After all why should anyone trust a person like you who asks and asks for what they want while they get nothing in return?







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