Dale Carnegie, author of the classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People, eloquently taught that there is no winning an argument. It makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, if you lose on merit, you’ve lost.
However, even if you win on merit (showing the other person that you are right and they are wrong), you most likely still won’t move them to take the action you desire. Why? Because their ego; that all-important decision-making instrument indigenous to the human being, has been insulted.
When that is the case, though you may be able to convince, rarely will you persuade.
So, what do you do when the other person says something you know is wrong? Well, agree. At first, anyway. This can be a wonderful way to disarm the person who, most likely, expects you to argue. But you aren’t doing that. You are agreeing. And, this leads to what I call The Principle of Agreement, and that is…
“Nobody is going to argue…with himself (or herself).”
Think about it – after agreeing with him or her, might they respond by defiantly saying, “No, you’re wrong, I was…wrong!” 🙂 I don’t think so.
But, you don’t stop there!
Now you’ll go into some of the other methods of positive persuasion we discuss often in this column. A couple of good – what I call – qualifiers – you can use are “I’m wondering if…” or “Here’s what I’m thinking…” and then make your suggestion.
The key is, you’ve tactfully and effectively brought down the other person’s defenses and made them much more amenable to your about-to-be-expressed point of view. Positive persuasion is now within reach.
Do you agree? If not, agree anyway…before you persuade me otherwise, that is. 😉
Next post: An example with some specific language you can use.