The person himself will think of the real reason. You don’t need to emphasize that. But all of us, being idealists at heart, like to think of motives that sound good. So, in order to change people, we need to appeal to their nobler motives.
In his legendary book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie cites the case of one of his students, Hamilton J. Farrell, who had a disgruntled tenant who threatened to move. The tenant’s lease still had four months to run; nevertheless, he served notice that he was vacating immediately, regardless of lease.
Farrell told the class, “These people had lived in my house all winter—the most expensive part of the year—and I knew it would be difficult to rent the apartment again before fall. I could see all that rent income going over the hill and believe me, I saw red.
“Now, ordinarily, I would have waded into that tenant and advised him to read his lease again. I would have pointed out that if he moved, the full balance of his rent would fall due at once—and that I could, and would, take steps to collect.
“However, instead of flying off the handle and making a scene, I decided to try other tactics. So I started like this: ‘Mr. Doe,’ I said, ‘I have listened to your story, and I still don’t believe you intend to move. Years in the renting business have taught me something about human nature, and I sized you up in the first place as being a man of your word. In fact, I’m so sure of it that I’m willing to take a gamble.
“’Now, here’s my proposition: Lay your decision on the table for a few days and think it over. If you come back to me between now and the first of the month, when the rent is due, and tell me you still intend to move, I give you my word I will accept your decision as final. I will give you the privilege of moving and admit to myself I’ve been wrong in my judgment. But I still believe you’re a man of your word and will live up to your contract. For after all, we are either man or monkeys—and the choice usually lies with ourselves!”
When the new month came around the tenant came to see Mr. Farrell and paid his rent in person. He and his wife had talked it over, he said, and decided to stay. They had concluded that the only honorable thing to do was to live up to their lease.
The lesson here is that most individuals who are inclined to chisel will in most cases react favorably if you make them feel that you consider them honest, upright, and fair.
Here’s an example of this important principle from your friends at Dale Carnegie Training of Central and Southern New Jersey:
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