How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

February 22, 2014

Way back in 1915 the workers of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company fiercely despised John D. Rockefeller Jr, who controlled the company. The irate, belligerent workers were demanding higher wages and in fact, staged one of the bloodiest strikes in the history of American industry. Property had been destroyed, and troops had been called out. Strikers had been shot, their bodies riddled with bullets.

It was a volatile situation and Rockefeller knew he had to win the strikers to his way of thinking. And—unbelievably—he did just that. Here’s how:

After weeks spent in making friends, Rockefeller addressed the representatives of the strikers with the following speech:

“This is a red-letter day in my life,” he began. “It is the first time I have ever had the good fortune to meet the representatives of the employees of this great company, its officers and superintendents, together, and I can assure you that I am proud to be here, and that I shall remember this gathering as long as I live. Had this meeting been held two weeks ago, I should have stood here a stranger to most of you, recognizing a few faces. Having had the opportunity last week of visiting all the camps in the southern coal field and of talking individually with practically all of the representatives, except those who were away; having visited in your homes, met many of your wives and children, we meet here not as strangers, but as friends, and it is in that spirit of mutual friendship that I am glad to have this opportunity to discuss with you our common interests.

“Since this is a meeting of the officers of the company and the representatives of the employees, it is only by your courtesy that I am here, for I am not so fortunate as to be either one or the other; and yet I feel that I am intimately associated with you men, for, in a sense, I represent both the stockholder and the directors.”

Rockefeller’s speech produced astonishing results. It calmed the tempestuous waves of hate that threatened to engulf Rockefeller. It won him a host of admirers. It presented facts in such a friendly manner that the strikers went back to work without saying another word about the increase in wages for which they had fought so violently.

Rockefeller followed one of Dale Carnegie’s primary success principles, “Begin in a Friendly Way.” Here’s an example in action from your friends at Dale Carnegie Training of the Northwest:

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