Dale Carnegie was a master at appealing to a person’s nobler motives. He understood that every person you meet—including the one staring back at you from the mirror—has a high regard for them self, and likes to be fine and unselfish in his or her own estimation.
J. Pierpont Morgan observed, in one of his analytical interludes, that a person usually has two reasons for doing something: one that sounds good, and a real one. The person will focus on the real reason while others, being idealists at heart, like to think of the motives that sound good. So it follows that in order to change people, appeal to the nobler motives.
Carnegie liked to tell the story of when John D. Rockefeller, Jr., wished to stop newspaper photographers from snapping pictures of his children, he appealed to their nobler motives. Instead of declaring, “I don’t want their pictures published!” he appealed to the desire in all of people to refrain from harming children. He said, “You know how it is, boys. You’ve got children yourselves, some of you. And you know it’s not good for youngsters to get too much publicity.” Pictures of the children immediately ceased.
Another story involves a disgruntled tenant who threatened to move. The tenant’s lease still had four months to run, but nevertheless, he served notice that he was vacating immediately, regardless of lease.
The landlord, a Mr. Hamilton J. Farrell of the Farrell-Mitchell Company noted that the tenant lived in the house all winter—the most expensive part of the year—and that he’d have difficulty renting the apartment again before fall. But instead of exercising his right to make a legal move to collect, and making a scene, he appealed to the tenant’s nobler motives. He told the person that he believed him to be a man of his word and offered him a proposition. He said, “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 your 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 privilege you to move, 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 men or monkeys—and the choice usually lies with ourselves!” When the new month came around the tenant came and paid his rent in person.
The next time you need to win people to your way of thinking, appeal to their nobler motives. You’ll find it far easier than simply confronting them with your point of view. Here’s an example of this important principle in action from your friends at Dale Carnegie Training Northwest:
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