Dale Carnegie knew that the best way to engage a person was to not discuss things on which you differ, but rather to emphasize—and keep emphasizing—the things on which you agree. The reasoning is that you are both striving for the same result, and that your only difference is one of method and not of purpose.
In his book How to Develop Self Confidence & Influence People by Public Speaking, Carnegie talks about Eddie Snow, who sponsored Dale Carnegie courses in Oakland, California. It seems Eddie became a good customer of a shop because a savvy proprietor got him to say, “Yes, yes.”
Eddie had become interested in bow-and-arrow hunting and had spent considerable money in purchasing equipment and supplies from a local store. When his brother was visiting him he wanted to rent a bow for him from this store. However, the sales clerk told him they didn’t rent bows, so Eddie phoned another store. Eddie described what happened:
“A very pleasant gentleman answered the phone. His response to my question for a rental was completely different from the other place. He said he was sorry, but they no longer rented bows because they couldn’t afford to do so. He then asked me if I had rented before. I replied, ‘Yes, several years ago.’ He reminded me that I probably paid $25 to $30 for the rental. I said ‘Yes’ again. He then asked if I was the kind of person who liked to save money. Naturally, I answered ‘Yes.’
“He went on to explain that they had bow sets with all the necessary equipment on sale for $34.95. I could buy a complete set for only $4.95 more than the cost of renting one. He explained that is why they had discontinued renting them. Did I think that was reasonable?
“My ‘Yes’ response led to a purchase of the set, and when I picked it up I purchased several more items at this shop and have since become a regular customer.”
Remember, the next time you’re tempted to tell someone he or she is wrong, ask a gentle question instead—one that will get the desired ‘Yes, yes!’ response. Like the old Chinese proverb says, “He who treads softly goes far.”
Here’s an example of this important principle in action from your friends at Dale Carnegie Training of Central & Southern New Jersey:
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