How to Win Friends and Influence People
It has great overview of techniques for non-toxic conversations but it’s a little bit dangerous and shallow. I was walking around it for years and was afraid it’s a collection of insecure tricks for used car salesmans. It’s easy to read and there’s a lot of examples from lives of famous (and not-so-famous) people. So it’s a worthy read if you just want to entertain yourself.
What do I mean by dangerous? It’s very easy to fall into a people-pleaser mentality after reading this. Applied bluntly, advice from this book may lead to flattery and many people despise it.
What do I mean by shallow? It has answers on ‘how’-questions, not ‘why’. How to make a good first impression? How to criticize and not be hated for it? It’s not obvious why Carnegies’s answers on those questions actually work. Difficult Conversations provides a nice framework to deal with those whys.
The University of Chicago and the United Y.M.C.A. Schools conducted a survey to determine what adults want to study. That survey cost $25,000 and took two years. The last part of the survey was made in Meriden, Connecticut. It had been chosen as a typical American town. Every adult in Meriden was interviewed and requested to answer 156 questions-questions such as “What is your business or profession? Your education? How do you spend your spare time? What is your income? Your hobbies? Your ambitions? Your problems? What subjects are you most interested in studying?” And so on. That survey revealed that health is the prime interest of adults and that their second interest is people; how to understand and get along with people; how to make people like you; and how to win others to your way of thinking.
“I have spent the best years of my life giving people the lighter pleasures, helping them have a good time, and all I get is abuse, the existence of a hunted man.” That’s Al Capone speaking. Yes, America’s most notorious Public Enemy- the most sinister gang leader who ever shot up Chicago.
There you are; human nature in action, wrongdoers, blaming everybody but themselves. We are all like that. So when you and I are tempted to criticize someone tomorrow, let’s remember Al Capone, “Two Gun” Crowley and Albert Fall. Let’s realize that criticisms are like homing pigeons. They always return home.
And when Mrs. Lincoln and others spoke harshly of the southern people, Lincoln replied: “Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.”
Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain - and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be under-standing and forgiving.
Many people who go insane find in insanity a feeling of importance that they were unable to achieve in the world of reality. Then he told me this story: “I have a patient right now whose marriage proved to be a tragedy. She wanted love, sexual gratification, children and social prestige, but life blasted all her hopes. Her husband didn’t love her. He refused even to eat with her and forced her to serve his meals in his room upstairs. She had no children, no social standing. She went insane; and, in her imagination, she divorced her husband and resumed her maiden name. She now believes she has married into English aristocracy, and she insists on being called Lady Smith. “And as for children, she imagines now that she has had a new child every night. Each time I call on her she says: ‘Doctor, I had a baby last night.’ "
Life once wrecked all her dream ships on the sharp rocks of reality; but in the sunny, fantasy isles of insanity, all her barkentines race into port with canvas billowing and winds singing through the masts. " Tragic? Oh, I don’t know. Her physician said to me: If I could stretch out my hand and restore her sanity, I wouldn’t do it. She’s much happier as she is.”
When a study was made a few years ago on runaway wives, what do you think was discovered to be the main reason wives ran away? It was “lack of appreciation.” And I’d bet that a similar study made of runaway husbands would come out the same way. We often take our spouses so much for granted that we never let them know we appreciate them. A member of one of our classes told of a request made by his wife. She and a group of other women in her church were involved in a self-improvement program. She asked her husband to help her by listing six things he believed she could do to help her become a better wife. He reported to the class: “I was surprised by such a request. Frankly, it would have been easy for me to list six things I would like to change about her - my heavens, she could have listed a thousand things she would like to change about me - but I didn’t. I said to her, ‘Let me think about it and give you an answer in the morning.’ “The next morning I got up very early and called the florist and had them send six red roses to my wife with a note saying: ‘I can’t think of six things I would like to change about you. I love you the way you are.’ “When I arrived at home that evening, who do you think greeted me at the door: That’s right. My wife! She was almost in tears. Needless to say, I was extremely glad I had not criticized her as she had requested.
Flattery is counterfeit, and like counterfeit money, it will eventually get you into trouble if you pass it to someone else. The difference between appreciation and flattery? That is simple. One is sincere and the other insincere. One comes from the heart out; the other from the teeth out. One is unselfish; the other selfish.
“Flattery is telling the other person precisely what he thinks about himself.”
So the only way cm earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it. Remember that tomorrow when you are trying to get somebody to do something. If, for example, you don’t want your children to smoke, don’t preach at them, and don’t talk about what you want; but show them that cigarettes may keep them from making the basketball team or winning the hundred-yard dash.
Another example of persuading comes from Stan Novak of Cleveland, Ohio, a participant in our course. Stan came home from work one evening to find his youngest son, Tim, kicking and screaming on the living room floor. He was to start kindergarten the next day and was protesting that he would not go. Stan’s normal reaction would have been to banish the child to his room and tell him he’d just better make up his mind to go. He had no choice. But tonight, recognizing that this would not really help Tim start kindergarten in the best frame of mind, Stan sat down and thought, “If I were Tim, why would I be excited about going to kindergarten?” He and his wife made a list of all the fun things Tim would do such as finger painting, singing songs, making new friends. Then they put them into action. “We all started finger-painting on the kitchen table-my wife, Lil, my other son Bob, and myself, all having fun. Soon Tim was peeping around the corner. Next he was begging to participate. ‘Oh, no! You have to go to kindergarten first to learn how to finger-paint.’ With all the enthusiasm I could muster I went through the list talking in terms he could understand-telling him all the fun he would have in kindergarten. The next morning, I thought I was the first one up. I went downstairs and found Tim sitting sound asleep in the living room chair. ‘What are you doing here?’ I asked. ‘I’m waiting to go to kindergarten. I don’t want to be late.’ The enthusiasm of our entire family had aroused in Tim an eager want that no amount of discussion or threat could have possibly accomplished.”
Take this one, a letter written by the head of the radio department of an advertising agency with offices scattered across the continent. This letter was sent to the managers of local radio stations throughout the country. (I have set down, in brackets, my reactions to each paragraph.)
Mr. John Blank, Blankville, Indiana Dear Mr. Blank:
The company desires to retain its position in advertising agency leadership in the radio field. [Who cares what your company desires? I am worried about my own problems. The bank is foreclosing the mortage on my house, the bugs are destroying the hollyhocks, the stock market tumbled yesterday. I missed the eight-fifteen this morning, I wasn’t invited to the Jones’s dance last night, the doctor tells me I have high blood pressure and neuritis and dandruff. And then what happens? I come down to the office this morning worried, open my mail and here is some little whippersnapper off in New York yapping about what his company wants. Bah! If he only realized what sort of impression his letter makes, he would get out of the advertising business and start manufacturing sheep dip.] This agency’s national advertising accounts were the bulwark of the network. Our subsequent clearances of station time have kept us at the top of agencies year after year. [You are big and rich and right at the top, are you? So what? I don’t give two whoops in Hades if you are as big as General Motors and General Electric and the General Staff of the U.S. Army all combined. If you had as much sense as a half-witted hummingbird, you would realize that I am interested in how big I am - not how big you are. All this talk about your enormous success makes me feel small and unimportant.] We desire to service our accounts with the last word on radio station information.[You desire! You desire. You unmitigated ass. I’m not interested in what you desire or what the President of the United States desires. Let me tell you once and for all that I am interested in what I desire -and you haven’t said a word about that yet in this absurd letter of yours.] Will you, therefore, put the company on your preferred list for weekly station information - every single detail that will be useful to an agency in intelligently booking time. [“Preferred list.” You have your nerve! You make me feel insignificant by your big talk about your company - nd then you ask me to put you on a “preferred” list, and you don’t even say “please” when you ask it.] A prompt acknowledgment of this letter, giving us your latest “doings,” will be mutually helpful. [You fool! You mail me a cheap form letter - a letter scattered far and wide like the autumn leaves - and you have the gall to ask me, when I am worried about the mortgage and the hollyhocks and my blood pressure, to sit down and dictate a personal note acknowledging your form letter - and you ask me to do it “promptly.” What do you mean, “promptly”.? Don’t you know I am just as busy as you are - or, at least, I like to think I am. And while we are on the subject, who gave you the lordly right to order me around?… You say it will be “mutually helpful.” At last, at last, you have begun to see my viewpoint. But you are vague about how it will be to my advantage.] Very truly yours, John Doe Manager Radio Department P.S. The enclosed reprint from the Blankville Journal will be of interest to you, and you may want to broadcast it over your station. [Finally, down here in the postscript, you mention something that may help me solve one of my problems. Why didn’t you begin your letter with - but what’s the use? Any advertising man who is guilty of perpetrating such drivel as you have sent me has something wrong with his medulla oblongata. You don’t need a letter giving our latest doings. What you need is a quart of iodine in your thyroid gland.]
Now, if people who devote their lives to advertising and who pose as experts in the art of influencing people to buy - if they write a letter like that, what can we expect from the butcher and baker or the auto mechanic?
… couldn’t get his three-year old daughter to eat breakfast food. The usual scolding, pleading, coaxing methods had all ended in futility. So the parents asked themselves: “How can we make her want to do it?” The little girl loved to imitate her mother, to feel big and grown up; so one morning they put her on a chair and let her make the breakfast food. At just the psychological moment, Father drifted into the kitchen while she was stirring the cereal and she said: “Oh, look, Daddy, I am making the cereal this morning.” She ate two helpings of the cereal without any coaxing, because she was interested in it. She had achieved a feeling of importance; she had found in making the cereal an avenue of self-expression. William Winter once remarked that “self-expression is the dominant necessity of human nature.” Why can’t we adapt this same psychology to business dealings? When we have a brilliant idea, instead of making others think it is ours, why not let them cook and stir the idea themselves. They will then regard it as their own; they will like it and maybe eat a couple of helpings of it.
FUNDAMENTAL TECHNIQUES IN HANDLING PEOPLE
- Don’t criticise, condemn or complain.
- Give honest and sincere appreciation.
- Arouse in the other person an eager want.
Did you ever stop to think that a dog is the only animal that doesn’t have to work for a living? A hen has to lay eggs, a cow has to give milk, and a canary has to sing. But a dog makes his living by giving you nothing but love.
“If the author doesn’t like people,” he said, “people won’t like his or her stories.”
Take the German Kaiser, for example. At the close of World War I he was probably the most savagely and universally despised man on this earth. Even his own nation turned against him when he fled over into Holland to save his neck. The hatred against him was so intense that millions of people would have loved to tear him limb from limb or burn him at the stake. In the midst of all this forest fire of fury, one little boy wrote the Kaiser a simple, sincere letter glowing with kindliness and admiration. This little boy said that no matter what the others thought, he would always love Wilhelm as his Emperor. The Kaiser was deeply touched by his letter and invited the little boy to come to see him. The boy came, so did his mother - and the Kaiser married her. That little boy didn’t need to read a book on how to win friends and influence people. He knew how instinctively.
“A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.”
Mr. Duvernoy had been trying to sell bread to a certain New York hotel. He had called on the manager every week for four years. He went to the same social affairs the manager attended. He even took rooms in the hotel and lived there in order to get the business. But he failed.“Then,” said Mr. Duvernoy, “after studying human relations, I resolved to change my tactics. I decided to find out what interested this man - what caught his enthusiasm. “I discovered he belonged to a society of hotel executives called the Hotel Greeters of America. He not only belonged, but his bubbling enthusiasm had made him president of the organization, and president of the International Greeters. No matter where its conventions were held, he would be there. “So when I saw him the next day, I began talking about the Greeters. What a response I got. What a response! He talked to me for half an hour about the Greeters, his tones vibrant with enthusiasm. I could plainly see that this society was not only his hobby, it was the passion of his life. Before I left his office, he had ‘sold’ me a membership in his organization. “In the meantime, I had said nothing about bread. But a few days later, the steward of his hotel phoned me to come over with samples and prices. " ‘I don’t know what you did to the old boy,’ the steward greeted me, ‘but he sure is sold on you!’ “Think of it! I had been drumming at that man for four years - trying to get his business - and I’d still be drumming at him if I hadn’t finally taken the trouble to find out what he was interested in, and what he enjoyed talking about.”
‘Mr. Funkhouser, I believe I can make money for you.’
Always make the other person feel important. John Dewey, as we have already noted, said that the desire to be important is the deepest urge in human nature; and William James said: “The deepest in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” As I have already pointed out, it is this urge that differentiates us from the animals. It is this urge that has been responsible for civilization itself.
“Why, aunty,” he said, “you overwhelm me. I appreciate your generosity, of course; but I couldn’t possibly accept it. I’m not even a relative of yours. I have a new car, and you have many relatives that would like to have that Packard.” “Relatives!” she exclaimed. “Yes, I have relatives who are just waiting till I die so they can get that car. But they are not going to get it.” “If you don’t want to give it to them, you can very easily sell it to a secondhand dealer,” he told her. “Sell it!” she cried. “Do you think I would sell this car? Do you think I could stand to see strangers riding up and down the street in that car - that car that my husband bought for me? I wouldn’t dream of selling it. I’m going to give it to you. You appreciate beautiful things.”
Claude Marais, a restaurant owner in Rouen, France, used this and saved his restaurant the loss of a key employee. This woman had been in his employ for five years and was a vital link between M. Marais and his staff of twenty-one people. He was shocked to receive a registered letter from her advising him of her resignation. M. Marais reported: “I was very surprised and, even more, disappointed, because I was under the impression that I had been fair to her and receptive to her needs. Inasmuch as she was a friend as well as an employee, I probably had taken her too much for granted and maybe was even more demanding of her than of other employees. “I could not, of course, accept this resignation without some explanation. I took her aside and said, ‘Paulette, you must understand that I cannot accept your resignation You mean a great deal to me and to this company, and you are as important to the success of this restaurant as I am.’ I repeated this in front of the entire staff, and I invited her to my home and reiterated my confidence in her with my family present. “Paulette withdrew her resignation, and today I can rely on her as never before. I frequently reinforce this by expressing my appreciation for what she does and showing her how important she is to me and to the restaurant.”
SIX WAYS TO MAKE PEOPLE LIKE YOU
- Become genuinely interested in other people.
- Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
- 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 – and do it sincerely.
There is only one way under high heaven to get the best of an argument - and that is to avoid it.
Here lies the body of William Jay,. Who died maintaining his right of way-He was right, dead right, as he sped along, But he’s just as dead as if he were wrong. You may be right, dead right, as you speed along in your argument; but as far as changing another’s mind is concerned, you will probably be just as futile as if you were wrong.
‘I suppose this is a very petty matter in comparison with the really important and difficult decisions you’re required to make. I’ve made a study of taxation myself. But I’ve had to get my knowledge from books. You are getting yours from the firing line of experience. I sometime wish I had a job like yours. It would teach me a lot.’ I meant every word I said. “Well.” The inspector straightened up in his chair, leaned back, and talked for a long time about his work, telling me of the clever frauds he had uncovered. His tone gradually became friendly, and presently he was telling me about his children. As he left, he advised me that he would consider my problem further and give me his decision in a few days. “He called at my office three days later and informed me that he had decided to leave the tax return exactly as it was filed.”
Buddha said: “Hatred is never ended by hatred but by love,” and a misunderstanding is never ended by an argument but by tact, diplomacy, conciliation and a sympathetic desire to see the other person’s viewpoint.
Never begin by announcing “I am going to prove so-and-so to you.” That’s bad. That’s tantamount to saying: “I’m smarter than you are, I’m going to tell you a thing or two and make you change your mind.”
That is a challenge. It arouses opposition and makes the listener want to battle with you before you even start.
It is difficult, under even the most benign conditions, to change people’s minds. So why make it harder? Why handicap yourself?
If you are going to prove anything, don’t let anybody know it. Do it so subtly, so adroitly, that no one will feel that you are doing it. This was expressed succinctly by Alexander Pope:
Men must be taught as if you taught them not And things unknown proposed as things forgot.
Over three hundred years ago Galileo said: You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him to find it within himself.
As Lord Chesterfield said to his son: Be wiser than other people if you can; but do not tell them so.
Socrates said repeatedly to his followers in Athens:One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing. Well,
I can’t hope to be any smarter than Socrates, so I have quit telling people they are wrong. And I find that it pays.
If a person makes a statement that you think is wrong - yes, even that you know is wrong - isn’t it better to begin by saying: “Well, now, look, I thought otherwise, but I may be wrong. I frequently am. And if I am wrong, I want to be put right. Let’s examine the facts.”
There’s magic, positive magic, in such phrases as: “I may be wrong. I frequently am. Let’s examine the facts.”
If you can be sure of being right only 55 percent of the time, you can go down to Wall Street and make a million dollars a day. If you can’t be sure of being right even 55 percent of the time, why should you tell other people they are wrong?
We sometimes find ourselves changing our minds without any resistance or heavy emotion, but if we are told we are wrong, we resent the imputation and harden our hearts.
We are incredibly heedless in the formation of our beliefs, but find ourselves filled with an illicit passion for them when anyone proposes to rob us of their companionship. It is obviously not the ideas themselves that are dear to us, but our self-esteem which is threatened…
The little word “my” is the most important one in human affairs, and properly to reckon with it is the beginning of wisdom.
I have found it of enormous value when I can permit myself to understand the other person. The way in which I have worded this statement may seem strange to you, Is it necessary to permit oneself to understand another? I think it is. Our first reaction to most of the statements (which we hear from other people) is an evaluation or judgment, rather than an understanding of it. When someone expresses some feeling, attitude or belief, our tendency is almost immediately to feel “that’s right,” or “that’s stupid,” “that’s abnormal,” “that’s unreasonable,” “that’s incorrect,” “that’s not nice.” Very rarely do we permit ourselves to understand precisely what the meaning of the statement is to the other person. ()  Adapted from Carl R. Rogers, On Becoming a Person (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1961), pp. 18ff.
Katherine A, Allred of Kings Mountain, North Carolina, is an industrial engineering supervisor for a yarn-processing plant. She told one of our classes how she handled a sensitive problem before and after taking our training:
“Part of my responsibility,” she reported, “deals with setting up and maintaining incentive systems and standards for our operators so they can make more money by producing more yarn. The system we were using had worked fine when we had only two or three different types of yarn, but recently we had expanded our inventory and capabilities to enable us to run more than twelve different varieties. The present system was no longer adequate to pay the operators fairly for the work being performed and give them an incentive to increase production. I had worked up a new system which would enable us to pay the operator by the class of yam she was running at any one particular time. With my new system in hand, I entered the meeting determined to prove to the management that my system was the right approach. I told them in detail how they were wrong and showed where they were being unfair and how I had all the answers they needed. To say the least, I failed miserably! I had become so busy defending my position on the new system that I had left them no opening to graciously admit their problems on the old one. The issue was dead.
“After several sessions of this course, I realized all too well where I had made my mistakes. I called another meeting and this time I asked where they felt their problems were. We discussed each point, and I asked them their opinions on which was the best way to proceed. With a few low-keyed suggestions, at proper intervals, I let them develop my system themselves. At the end of the meeting when I actually presented my system, they enthusiastically accepted it.
“I am convinced now that nothing good is accomplished and a lot of damage can be done if you tell a person straight out that he or she is wrong. You only succeed in stripping that person of self-dignity and making yourself an unwelcome part of any discussion.”
Martin Luther King was asked how, as a pacifist, he could be an admirer of Air Force General Daniel “Chappie” James, then the nation’s highest-ranking black officer. Dr. King replied, “I judge people by their own s - not by my own.”
In a similar way, General Robert E. Lee once spoke to the president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, in the most glowing terms about a certain officer under his command. Another officer in attendance was astonished. “General,” he said, " do you not know that the man of whom you speak so highly is one of your bitterest enemies who misses no opportunity to malign you?" “Yes,” replied General Lee, “but the president asked my opinion of him; he did not ask for his opinion of me.”
By the way, I am not revealing anything new in this chapter. Two thousand years ago, Jesus said: “Agree with thine adversary quickly.”
And 2,200 years before Christ was born, King Akhtoi of Egypt gave his son some shrewd advice - advice that is sorely needed today. “Be diplomatic,” counseled the King. “It will help you gain your point.”
In other words, don’t argue with your customer or your spouse or your adversary. Don’t tell them they are wrong, don’t get them stirred up. Use a little diplomacy.
I was in for it. I knew it. So I didn’t wait until the policeman started talking. I beat him to it. I said: “Officer, you’ve caught me redhanded. I’m guilty. I have no alibis, no excuses. You warned me last week that if I brought the dog out here again without a muzzle you would fine me.” “Well, now,” the policeman responded in a soft tone. “I know it’s a temptation to let a little dog like that have a run out here when nobody is around.” “Sure it’s a temptation,” I replied, “but it is against the law.” “Well, a little dog like that isn’t going to harm anybody,” the policeman remonstrated. “No, but he may kill squirrels,” I said. “Well now, I think you are taking this a bit too seriously,” he told me. “I’ll tell you what you do. You just let him run over the hill there where I can’t see him - and we’ll forget all about it.” That policeman, being human, wanted a feeling of importance; so when I began to condemn myself, the only way he could nourish his self-esteem was to take the magnanimous attitude of showing mercy. But suppose I had tried to defend myself - well, did you ever argue with a policeman?
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 just as the mounted policeman did with me and Rex.
Remember the old proverb: “By fighting you never get enough, but by yielding you get more than you expected.”
Business executives have learned that it pays to be friendly to strikers. For example, when 2,500 employees in the White Motor Company’s plant struck for higher wages and a union shop, Robert F. Black, then president of the company, didn’t lose his temper and condemn and threaten and talk of tryanny and Communists. He actually praised the strikers. He published an advertisement in the Cleveland papers, complimenting them on “the peaceful way in which they laid down their tools.” Finding the strike pickets idle, he bought them a couple of dozen baseball bats and gloves and invited them to play ball on vacant lots. For those who preferred bowling, he rented a bowling alley.
Daniel Webster, who looked like a god and talked like Jehovah, was one of the most successful advocates who ever pleaded a case; yet he ushered in his most powerful arguments with such friendly remarks as: “It will be for the jury to consider,” “This may perhaps be worth thinking of,” " Here are some facts that I trust you will not lose sight of," or “You, with your knowledge of human nature, will easily see the significance of these facts.” No bulldozing. No highpressure methods. No attempt to force his opinions on others.
“He and his secretary came to see me as soon as he got my letter. I met him at the door with a friendly greeting. I fairly bubbled with good will and enthusiasm. I didn’t begin talking about how high the rent was. I began talking about how much I liked his apartment house. Believe me, I was ‘hearty in my approbation and lavish in my praise.’ I complimented him on the way he ran the building and told him I should like so much to stay for another year but I couldn’t afford it. “He had evidently never had such a reception from a tenant. He hardly knew what to make of it. “Then he started to tell me his troubles. Complaining tenants. One had written him fourteen letters, some of them positively insulting. Another threatened to break his lease unless the landlord kept the man on the floor above from snoring. ‘What a relief it is,’ he said, ’to have a satisfied tenant like you.’ And then, without my even asking him to do it, he offered to reduce my rent a little. I wanted more, so I named the figure I could afford to pay, and he accepted without a word. “As he was leaving, he turned to me and asked, ‘What decorating can I do for you?’ “If I had tried to get the rent reduced by the methods the other tenants were using, I am positive I should have met with the same failure they encountered. It was the friendly, sympathetic, appreciative approach that won.”
Utility people are extremely conscious of public relations, and suddenly Woodcock realized what this setup looked like to the man with the camera - overkill, dozens of people being called out to do a two-person job. He strolled up the street to the photographer. “I see you’re interested in our operation.” “Yes, and my mother will be more than interested. She owns stock in your company. This will be an eye-opener for her. She may even decide her investment was unwise. I’ve been telling her for years there’s a lot of waste motion in companies like yours. This proves it. The newspapers might like these pictures, too.” “It does look like it, doesn’t it? I’d think the same thing in your position. But this is a unique situation,…” and Dean Woodcock went on to explain how this was the first job of this type for his department and how everybody from executives down was interested. He assured the man that under normal conditions two people could handle the job. The photographer put away his camera, shook Woodcock’s hand, and thanked him for taking the time to explain the situation to him. Dean Woodcock’s friendly approach saved his company much embarrassment and bad publicity.
Remember what Lincoln said: “A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.”
The skillful speaker gets, at the outset, a number of “Yes” responses. This sets the psychological process of the listeners moving in the affirmative direction. It is like the movement of a billiard ball. Propel in one direction, and it takes some force to deflect it; far more force to send it back in the opposite direction. The psychological patterns here are quite clear. When a person says “No” and really means it, he or she is doing far more than saying a word of two letters. The entire organism - glandular, nervous, muscular -gathers itself together into a condition of rejection. There is, usually in minute but sometimes in observable degree, a physical withdrawal or readiness for withdrawal. The whole neuromuscular system, in short, sets itself on guard against acceptance. When, to the contrary, a person says “Yes,” none of the withdrawal activities takes place. The organism is in a forward - moving, accepting, open attitude. Hence the more “Yeses” we can, at the very outset, induce, the more likely we are to succeed in capturing the attention for our ultimate proposal.
Socrates, “the gadfly of Athens,” was one of the greatest philosophers the world has ever known. He did something that only a handful of men in all history have been able to do: he sharply changed the whole course of human thought; and 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 with which his opponent would have to agree. He 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. 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. The Chinese have a proverb pregnant with the age-old wisdom of the Orient: “He who treads softly goes far.” They have spent five thousand years studying human nature, those cultured Chinese, and they have garnered a lot of perspicacity: “He who treads softly goes far.”
A large advertisement appeared on the financial page of a New York newspaper calling for a person with unusual ability and experience. Charles T. Cubellis answered the advertisement, sending his reply to a box number. A few days later, he was invited by letter to call for an interview. Before he called, he spent hours in Wall Street finding out everything possible about the person who had founded the business. During the interview, he remarked: “I should be mighty proud to be associated with an organization with a record like yours. I understand you started twenty-eight years ago with nothing but desk room and one stenographer. Is that true?” Almost every successful person likes to reminisce about his early struggles. This man was no exception. He talked for a long time about how he had started with $450 in cash and an original idea. He told how he had fought against discouragement and battled against ridicule, working Sundays and holidays, twelve to sixteen hours a day; how he had finally won against all odds until now the most important executives on Wall Street were coming to him for information and guidance. He was proud of such a record. He had a right to be, and he had a splendid time telling about it. Finally, he questioned Mr. Cubellis briefly about his experience, then called in one of his vice presidents and said: “I think this is the person we are looking for.”
After that, this buyer ordered scores of other sketches from Wesson, all drawn according to the buyer’s ideas. “I realized why I had failed for years to sell him,” said Mr. Wesson. " I had urged him to buy what I thought he ought to have. Then I changed my approach completely. I urged him to give me his ideas. This made him feel that he was creating the designs. And he was. I didn’t have to sell him. He bought."
Ralph Waldo Emerson in his essay “Self-Reliance” stated: “In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.”
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."
Tomorrow, before asking anyone to put out a fire or buy your product or contribute to your favorite charity, why not pause and close your eyes and try to think the whole thing through from another person’s point of view? Ask yourself: “Why should he or she want to do it?” True, this will take time, but it will avoid making enemies and will get better results - and with less friction and less shoe leather.
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 to answer.
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.”
“Rick, I know your hotel is quite busy and you would like to keep the escalator shutdown time to a minimum. I understand your concern about this, and we want to do everything possible to accommodate you. However, our diagnosis of the situation shows that if we do not do a complete job now, your escalator may suffer more serious damage and that would cause a much longer shutdown. I know you would not want to inconvenience your guests for several days.”
Dr. Arthur I. Gates said in his splendid book Educational Psychology: “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.”
When the late Lord Northcliffe found a newspaper using a picture of him which he didn’t want published, he wrote the editor a letter. But did he say, “Please do not publish that picture of me any more; I don’t like it”? No, he appealed to a nobler motive. He appealed to the respect and love that all of us have for motherhood. He wrote, “Please do not publish that picture of me any more. My mother doesn’t like it.”
Dramatizing what you want works with children as well. Joe B. Fant, Jr., of Birmingham, Alabama, was having difficulty getting his fiveyearold 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.
Well, they would show the night shift a thing or two. The crew pitched in with enthusiasm, and when they quit that night, they left behind them an enormous, swaggering “10.” Things were stepping up. Shortly this mill, which had been lagging way behind in production, was turning out more work than any other mill in the plant. The ?Let Charles Schwab say it in his own words: “The way to get things done,” say Schwab, “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.
He studied in depth the work attitudes of thousands of people ranging from factory workers to senior executives. What do you think he found to be the most motivating factor - the one facet of the jobs that was most stimulating? Money? Good working conditions? Fringe benefits? No - not any of those. 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. That is what every successful person loves: the game. The chance for self-expression. The chance to prove his or her worth, to excel, to win. That is what makes foot-races and hog-calling and pie-eating contests. The desire to excel. The desire for a feeling of importance.
WIN PEOPLE TO YOUR WAY OF THINKING
- The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
- Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, ‘You’re wrong.’
- If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
- Begin in a friendly way.
- Get the other person saying ‘yes, yes’ immediately.
- Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
- Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
- Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
- Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
- Appeal to the nobler motives.
- Dramatise your ideas.
- Throw down a challenge.
A friend of mine was a guest at the White House for a weekend during the administration of Calvin Coolidge. Drifting into the President’s private office, he heard Coolidge say to one of his secretaries, “That’s a pretty dress you are wearing this morning, and you are a very attractive young woman.” That was probably the most effusive praise Silent Cal had ever bestowed upon a secretary in his life. It was so unusual, so unexpected, that the secretary blushed in confusion. Then Coolidge said, “Now, don’t get stuck up. I just said that to make you feel good. From now on, I wish you would be a little bit more careful with your Punctuation.”
A friend of mine was a guest at the White House for a weekend during the administration of Calvin Coolidge. Drifting into the President’s private office, he heard Coolidge say to one of his secretaries, “That’s a pretty dress you are wearing this morning, and you are a very attractive young woman.” That was probably the most effusive praise Silent Cal had ever bestowed upon a secretary in his life. It was so unusual, so unexpected, that the secretary blushed in confusion. Then Coolidge said, “Now, don’t get stuck up. I just said that to make you feel good. From now on, I wish you would be a little bit more careful with your Punctuation.” His method was probably a bit obvious, but the psychology was superb. It is always easier to listen to unpleasant things after we have heard some praise of our good points.
Beginning with praise is like the dentist who begins his work with Novocain. The patient still gets a drilling, but the Novocain is painkilling.
Simply changing one three-letter word can often spell the difference between failure and success in changing people without giving offense or arousing resentment. Many people begin their criticism with sincere praise followed by the word “but” and ending with a critical statement. For example, in trying to change a child’s careless attitude toward studies, we might say, “We’re really proud of you, Johnnie, for raising your grades this term. But if you had worked harder on your algebra, the results would have been better.” In this case, Johnnie might feel encouraged until he heard the word “but.” He might then question the sincerity of the original praise. To him, the praise seemed only to be a contrived lead-in to a critical inference of failure. Credibility would be strained, and we probably would not achieve our objectives of changing Johnnie’s attitude toward his studies. This could be easily overcome by changing the word “but” to “and.”
Calling attention to one’s mistakes indirectly works wonders with sensitive people who may resent bitterly any direct criticism. Marge Jacob of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, told one of our classes how she convinced some sloppy construction workers to clean up after themselves when they were building additions to her house. For the first few days of the work, when Mrs. Jacob returned from her job, she noticed that the yard was strewn with the cut ends of lumber. She didn’t want to antagonize the builders, because they did excellent work. So after the workers had gone home, she and her children picked up and neatly piled all the lumber debris in a corner. The following morning she called the foreman to one side and said, “I’m really pleased with the way the front lawn was left last night; it is nice and clean and does not offend the neighbors.” From that day forward the workers picked up and piled the debris to one side, and the foreman came in each day seeking approval of the condition the lawn was left in after a day’s work.
On March 8, 1887, the eloquent Henry Ward Beecher died. The following Sunday, Lyman Abbott was invited to speak in the pulpit left silent by Beecher’s passing. Eager to do his best, he wrote, rewrote and polished his sermon with the meticulous care of a Flaubert. Then he read it to his wife. It was poor - as most written speeches are. She might have said, if she had had less judgment, “Lyman, that is terrible. That’ll never do. You’ll put people to sleep. It reads like an encyclopedia. You ought to know better than that after all the years you have been preaching. For heaven’s sake, why don’t you talk like a human being? Why don’t you act natural? You’ll disgrace yourself if you ever read that stuff.” That’s what she might have said. And, if she had, you know what would have happened. And she knew too. So, she merely remarked that it would make an excellent article for the North American Review. In other words, she praised it and at the same time subtly suggested that it wouldn’t do as a speech. Lyman Abbott saw the point, tore up his carefully prepared manuscript and preached without even using notes.
Admitting one’s own mistakes - even when one hasn’t corrected them - can help convince somebody to change his behavior. This was illustrated more recently by Clarence Zerhusen of Timonium, Maryland, when he discovered his fifteen-year-old son was experimenting with cigarettes. “Naturally, I didn’t want David to smoke,” Mr. Zerhusen told us, “but his mother and I smoked cigarettes; we were giving him a bad example all the time. I explained to Dave how I started smoking at about his age and how the nicotine had gotten the best of me and now it was nearly impossible for me to stop. I reminded him how irritating my cough was and how he had been after me to give up cigarettes not many years before.“I didn’t exhort him to stop or make threats or warn him about their dangers. All I did was point out how I was hooked on cigarettes and what it had meant to me. “He thought about it for a while and decided he wouldn’t smoke until he had graduated from high school. As the years went by David never did start smoking and has no intention of ever doing so. “As a result of that conversation I made the decision to stop smoking cigarettes myself, and with the support of my family, I have succeeded.”
Instead of pushing his people to accelerate their work and rush the order through, he called everybody together, explained the situation to them, and told them how much it would mean to the company and to them if they could make it possible to produce the order on time. Then he started asking questions: “Is there anything we can do to handle this order?” “Can anyone think of different ways to process it through the shop that will make it possible to take the order?” “Is there any way to adjust our hours or personnel assignments that would help?” The employees came up with many ideas and insisted that he take the order. They approached it with a “We can do it” attitude, and the order was accepted, produced and delivered on time.
At one session of our course, two class members discussed the negative effects of faultfinding versus the positive effects of letting the other person save face. Fred Clark of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, told of an incident that occurred in his company: “At one of our production meetings, a vice president was asking very pointed questions of one of our production supervisors regarding a production process. His tone of voice was aggressive and aimed at pointing out faulty performance on the part of the supervisor. Not wanting to be embarrassed in front of his peers, the supervisor was evasive in his responses. This caused the vice president to lose his temper, berate the supervisor and accuse him of lying. “Any working relationship that might have existed prior to this encounter was destroyed in a few brief moments. This supervisor, who was basically a good worker, was useless to our company from that time on. A few months later he left our firm and went to work for a competitor, where I understand he is doing a fine job.”
first major assignment - the test-marketing of a new product. She told the class: “When the results of the test came in, I was devastated. I had made a serious error in my planning, and the entire test had to be done all over again. To make this worse, I had no time to discuss it with my boss before the meeting in which I was to make my report on the project. “When I was called on to give the report, I was shaking with fright. I had all I could do to keep from breaking down, but I resolved I would not cry and have all those men make remarks about women not being able to handle a management job because they are too emotional. I made my report briefly and stated that due to an error I would repeat the study before the next meeting. I sat down, expecting my boss to blow up. “Instead, he thanked me for my work and remarked that it was not unusual for a person to make an error on a new project and that he had confidence that the repeat survey would be accurate and meaningful to the company. He Assured me, in front of all my colleagues, that he had faith in me and I knew I had done my best, and that my lack of experience, not my lack of ability, was the reason for the failure. I left that meeting with my head in the air and with the determination that I would never let that boss of mine down again.”
I can look back at my own life and see where a few words of praise have sharply changed my entire future. Can’t you say the same thing about your life?
Because he had singled out a specific accomplishment, rather than just making general flattering remarks, his praise became much more meaningful to the person to whom it was given. Everybody likes to be praised, but when praise is specific, it comes across as sincere - not something the other person may be saying just to make one feel good.
In short, if you want to improve a person in a certain spect, act as though that particular trait were already one of his or her outstanding characteristics. Shakespeare said “Assume a virtue, if you have it not.” And it might be well to assume and state openly that other people have the virtue you want them to develop. Give them a fine reputation to live up to, and they will make prodigious efforts rather than see you disillusioned.
One morning Dr. Martin Fitzhugh, a dentist in Dublin, Ireland, was shocked when one of his patients pointed out to him that the metal cup holder which she was using to rinse her mouth was not very clean. True, the patient drank from the paper cup, not the holder, but it certainly was not professional to use tarnished equipment. When the patient left, Dr. Fitzhugh retreated to his private office to write a note to Bridgit, the charwoman, who came twice a week to clean his office. He wrote: My dear Bridgit, I see you so seldom, I thought I’d take the time to thank you for the fine job of cleaning you’ve been doing. By the way, I thought I’d mention that since two hours, twice a week, is a very limited amount of time, please feel free to work an extra half hour from time to time if you feel you need to do those “once-in-a-while” things like polishing the cup holders and the like. I, of course, will pay you for the extra time. “The next day, when I walked into my office,” Dr. Fitzhugh reported, “My desk had been polished to a mirror-like finish, as had my chair, which I nearly slid out of. When I went into the treatment room I found the shiniest, cleanest chrome-plated cup holder I had ever seen nestled in its receptacle. I had given my char-woman a fine reputation to live up to, and because of this small gesture she outperformed all her past efforts. How much additional time did she spend on this? That’s right-none at all.”
There is an old saying: “Give a dog a bad name and you may as well hang him.” But give him a good name - and see what happens!
I knew a man who had to refuse many invitations to speak, invitations extended by friends, invitations coming from people to whom he was obligated; and yet he did it so adroitly that the other person was at least contented with his refusal. How did he do it? Not by merely talking about the fact that he was too busy and too-this and too-that. No, after expressing his appreciation of the invitation and regretting his inability to accept it, he suggested a substitute speaker. In other words, he didn’t give the other person any time to feel unhappy about the refusal, He immediately changed the other person’s thoughts to some other speaker who could accept the invitation.
Childish? Perhaps. But that is what they said to Napoleon when he created the Legion of Honor and distributed 15,000 crosses to his soldiers and made eighteen of his generals “Marshals of France” and called his troops the “Grand Army.” Napoleon was criticized for giving “toys” to war-hardened veterans, and Napoleon replied, “Men are ruled by toys.”
Forget about the benefits to yourself and concentrate on the benefits to the other person. • 2. Know exactly what it is you want the other person to do. • 3. Be empathetic. Ask yourself what is it the other person really wants. • 4. Consider the benefits that person will receive from doing what you suggest. • 5. Match those benefits to the other person’s wants. • 6. When you make your request, put it in a form that will convey to the other person the idea that he personally will benefit. We could give a curt order like this: " John, we have customers coming in tomorrow and I need the stockroom cleaned out. So sweep it out, put the stock in neat piles on the shelves and polish the counter." Or we could express the same idea by showing John the benefits he will get from doing the task: “John, we have a job that should be completed right away. If it is done now, we won’t be faced with it later. I am bringing some customers in tomorrow to show our facilities. I would like to show them the stockroom, but it is in poor shape. If you could sweep it out, put the stock in neat piles on the shelves, and polish the counter, it would make us look efficient and you will have done your part to provide a good company image.” Will John be happy about doing what you suggest? Probably not very happy, but happier than if you had not pointed out the benefits.
BE A LEADER
A leader’s job often includes changing your people’s attitudes and behaviour. Some suggestions to accomplish this:
- Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
- Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
- Talk about your own mistakes before criticising the other person.
- Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
- Let the other person save face.
- Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be ‘hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.’
- Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
- Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
- Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.
Try this yourself. The next time you are in a strange city, stop someone who is below you in the economic and social scale and say: “I wonder if you would mind helping me out of a little difficulty. Won’t you please tell me how to get to such and such a place?”
Benjamin Franklin used this technique to turn a caustic enemy into a lifelong friend. Franklin, a young man at the time, had all his savings invested in a small printing business. He managed to get himself elected clerk of the General Assembly in Philadelphia. That position gave him the job of doing the official printing. There was good profit in this job, and Ben was eager to keep it. But a menace loomed ahead. One of the richest and ablest men in the Assembly disliked Franklin bitterly. He not only disliked Franklin, but he denounced him in a public talk. That was dangerous, very dangerous. So Franklin resolved to make the man like him. But how? That was a problem. By doing a favour for his enemy? No, that would have aroused his suspicions, maybe his contempt. Franklin was too wise, too adroit to be caught in such a trap. So he did the very opposite. He asked his enemy to do him a favour.Franklin didn’t ask for a loan of ten dollars. No! No! Franklin asked a favour that pleased the other man-a favour that touched his vanity, a favour that gave him recognition, a favour that subtly expressed Franklin’s admiration for his knowledge and achievements. Here is the balance of the story in Franklin’s own words: Having heard that he had in his library a certain very scarce and curious book, I wrote a note to him, expressing my desire of perusing that book and requesting that he would do me the favour of lending it to me for a few days. He sent it immediately, and I returned it in about a week with another note expressing strongly my sense of the favour. When next we met in the House, he spoke to me (which he had never done before) and with great civility and he ever afterward manifested a readiness to serve me on all occasions, so that we became great friends and our friendship continued to his death.
Ben Franklin has been dead now for a hundred and fifty years, but the psychology that he used, the psychology of asking the other man to do you a favour, goes marching right on.
Often she ran to her sister, complaining of her husband, complaining, weeping, nagging, and threatening. Forcing her way into his study, she stormed at him and abused him. Napoleon, master of a dozen sumptuous palaces, Emperor of France, could not find a cupboard in which he could call his soul his own. And what did Eugenic accomplish by all this? Here is the answer. I am quoting now from E.A. Rheinhardt’s engrossing book, Napoleon and Eugenic: The Tragicomedy of an Empire: “So it came about that Napoleon frequently would steal out by a little side door at night, with a soft hat pulled over his eyes, and, accompanied by one of his intimates, really betake himself to some fair lady who was expecting him, or else stroll about the great city as of old, passing through streets of the kind which an Emperor hardly sees outside a fairy tale, and breathing the atmosphere of might-have-beens.“That is what nagging accomplished for Eugenic. True, she sat on the throne of France. True, she was the most beautiful woman in the world. But neither royalty nor beauty can keep love alive amidst the poisonous fumes of nagging. Eugenic could have raised her voice like Job of old and have wailed: “The thing which I greatly feared is come upon me.” Come upon her? She brought it upon herself, poor woman, by her jealousy and her nagging. Of all the sure-fire, infernal devices ever invented by all the devils in hell for destroying love, nagging is the deadliest. It never fails. Like the bite of the king cobra, it always destroys, always kills.
The wife of Count Leo Tolstoi discovered that-after it was too late. Before she passed away, she confessed to her daughters: “I was the cause of your father’s death.” Her daughters didn’t reply. They were both crying. They knew their mother was telling the truth. They knew she had killed him with her constant complaining, her eternal criticisms, and her eternal nagging. Yet Count Tolstoi and his wife ought, by all odds, to have been happy. He was one of the most famous novelists of all time. Two of his masterpieces, War and Peace and Anna Karenina will forever shine brightly among the literary glories of earth.
The great tragedy of Abraham Lincoln’s life also was his marriage. Not his assassination, mind you, but his marriage. When Booth fired, Lincoln never realized he had been shot; but he reaped almost daily, for twenty-three years, what Herndon, his law partner, described as “the bitter harvest of conjugal infelicity.” “Conjugal infelicity?” That is putting it mildly. For almost a quarter of a century, Mrs Lincoln nagged and harassed the life out of him. She was always complaining, always criticizing her husband; nothing about him was ever right. He was stoop-shouldered, he walked awkwardly and lifted his feet straight up and down like an Indian. She complained that there was no spring in his step, no grace to his movement; and she mimicked his gait and nagged at him to walk with his toes pointed down, as she had been taught at Madame Mentelle’s boarding school in Lexington. She didn’t like the way his huge ears stood out at right angles from his head. She even told him that his nose wasn’t straight, that his lower lip stuck out, and he looked consumptive, that his feet and hands were too large, his head too small.
One morning Mr and Mrs Lincoln were having breakfast when Lincoln did something that aroused the fiery temper of his wife. What, no one remembers now. But Mrs Lincoln, in a rage, dashed a cup of hot coffee into her husband’s face. And she did it in front of the other boarders. Saying nothing, Lincoln sat there in humiliation and silence while Mrs Early came with a wet towel and wiped off his face and clothes. Mrs Lincoln’s jealousy was so foolish, so fierce, so incredible, that merely to read about some of the pathetic and disgraceful scenes she created in public-merely reading about them seventy-five years later makes one gasp with astonishment. She finally went insane; and perhaps the most charitable thing one can say about her is that her disposition was probably always affected by incipient insanity. Did all this nagging and scolding and raging change Lincoln? In one way, yes. It certainly changed his attitude toward her. It made him regret his unfortunate marriage, and it made him avoid her presence as much as possible.
“You know,” Disraeli would say, “I only married you for your money anyhow.” And Mary Anne, smiling, would reply, “Yes, but if you had it to do over again, you’d marry me for love, wouldn’t you?” And he admitted it was true. No, Mary Anne wasn’t perfect. But Disraeli was wise enough to let her be herself.
Or, as Leland Foster Wood in his book, Growing Together in the Family, has observed: “Success in marriage is much more than a matter of finding the right person; it is also a matter of being the right person.”
And so, often, did Catherine the Great. Catherine ruled one of the largest empires the world has ever known. Over millions of her subjects she held the power of life and death. Politically, she was often a cruel tyrant, waging useless wars and sentencing scores of her enemies to be cut down by firing squads. Yet if the cook burned the meat, she said nothing. She smiled and ate it with a tolerance that the average American husband would do well to emulate.
My grandmother died a few years ago at the age of ninety-eight. Shortly before her death, we showed her a photograph of herself that had been taken a third of a century earlier. Her failing eyes couldn’t see the picture very well, and the only question she asked was: “What dress did I have on?” Think of it! An old woman in her last December, bedridden, weary with age as she lay within the shadow of the century mark, her memory fading so fast that she was no longer able to recognize even her own daughters, still interested in knowing what dress she had worn a third of a century before! I was at her bedside when she asked that question. It left an impression on me that will never fade.
Mrs Baxter, the former Winifred Bryson, gave up a brilliant stage career when she married. Yet her sacrifice has never been permitted to mar their happiness. “She missed the applause of stage success,” Warner Baxter says, “but I have tried to see that she is entirely aware of my applause. If a woman is to find happiness at all in her husband, she is to find it in his appreciation, and devotion. If that appreciation and devotion is actual, there is the answer to his happiness also.”
“Next to care in choosing a partner,”. says Mrs Damrosch, “I should place courtesy after marriage. If young wives would only be as courteous to their husbands as to strangers! Any man will run from a shrewish tongue.” Rudeness is the cancer that devours love. Everyone knows this, yet it’s notorious that we are more polite to strangers than we are to our own relatives. We wouldn’t dream of interrupting strangers to say, “Good heavens, are you going to tell that old story again!” We wouldn’t dream of opening our friends’ mail without permission, or prying into their personal secrets. And it’s only the members of our own family, those who are nearest and dearest to us, that we dare insult for their trivial faults.
The average man who is happily married is happier by far than the genius who lives in solitude. Turgenev, the great Russian novelist, was acclaimed all over the civilized world. Yet he said: “I would give up all my genius, and all my books, if there were only some woman, somewhere, who cared whether or not I came home late for dinner.”
“Early in my experience as a minister I discovered that, in spite of romance and good intentions, many couples who come to the marriage altar are matrimonial illiterates.” Matrimonial illiterates! And he continues: “When you consider that we leave the highly difficult adjustment of marriage so largely to chance, the marvel is that our divorce rate is only 16 per cent. An appalling number of husbands and wives are not really married but simply undivorced: they live in a sort of purgatory.” “Happy marriages,” says Dr Butterfield, “are rarely the product of chance: they are architectural in that they are intelligently and deliberately planned.”
“Of all the books that are available, the three that seem to me most satisfactory for general reading are: The Sex Technique in Marriage by Isabel E. Hutton; The Sexual Side of Marriage by Max Exner; The Sex Factor in Marriage by Helena Wright.”
- Don’t, don’t nag!!!
- Don’t try to make your partner over.
- Don’t criticize.
- Give honest appreciation.
- Pay little attentions.
- Be courteous.
- Read a good book on the sexual side of marriage.