Making People Glad To Do What You Want

Back in 1915, America was aghast. For more than a year, the nations of Europe had been slaughtering one another on a scale never before dreamed of in all the bloody annals of mankind. Could peace be brought about? No one knew. But Woodrow Wilson was determined to try. He would send a personal representative, a peace emissary, to counsel with the war lords of Europe.

William Jennings Bryan, Secretary of State, Bryan, the peace advocate, longed to go. He saw a chance to perform a great service and make his name immortal. But Wilson appointed another man, his intimate friend, Colonel House; and it was House’s thorny task to break the unwelcome news to Bryan without giving him offence.

“Bryan was distinctly disappointed when he heard I was to go to Europe as the peace emissary”, Colonel House records in his diary. “He said he had planned to do this himself…

“I replied that the President thought it would be unwise for anyone to do this officially, and that his going would attract a great deal of attention and people would wonder why he was there…”

You see the intimation? House practically tells Bryan that he is too important for the job—and Bryan is satisfied.

Colonel House, adroit, experienced in the ways of the world, was following one of the important rules of human relations: Always make the other man happy about doing the thing you suggest.

Woodrow Wilson followed that policy even when inviting William Gibbs McAdoo to become a member of his cabinet. That was the highest honour he could confer upon anyone, and yet Wilson did it in such a way as to make the other man feel doubly important. Here is the story in McAdoo’s own words: “He [Wilson] said that he was making up his cabinet and that he would be very glad if I would accept a place in it as Secretary of the Treasury. He had a delightful way of putting things; he created the impression that by accepting this great honour I would be doing him a favour.”

Unfortunately, Wilson didn’t always employ such tact. If he had, history might have been different. For example, Wilson didn’t make the Senate and the Republican Party happy about putting the United States in the League of Nations. Wilson refused to take Elihu Root or Hughes or Henry Cabot Lodge or any other prominent Republican to the peace conference with him. Instead, he took along unknown men from his own party. He snubbed the Republicans, refused to let them feel that the League was their idea as well as his, refused to let them have a finger in the pie; and, as a result of this crude handling of human relations, Wilson wrecked his own career, ruined his health, shortened his life, caused America to stay out of the League, and altered the history of the world.


The famous publishing house of Doubleday Page always followed this rule: Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest. This firm was so expert at it that O. Henry declared that Doubleday could refuse one of his stories and do it with such graciousness, such appreciation, that he felt better when Doubleday refused a story than when another publisher accepted one.

I know a man who has to refuse many invitation to speak, invitations extended by friends, invitations coming from people to whom he is obligated; and yet he does it so adroitly that the other person is at least contented with his refusal, How does he do it? Not by merely talking about the fact that he is too busy and too this and too that. No, after expressing his appreciation of the invitation and regretting his inability to accept it, he suggests a substitute ‘speaker. In other words, he doesn’t give the other person any time to feel unhappy about the refusal: He immediately gets the other person thinking of some other speaker he may obtain.

“Why don’t you get my friend, Cleveland Rodgers, the editor of the Brooklyn Eagle, to speak for you?” he will suggest. “Or have you thought about trying Guy Hickok? He lived in Paris fifteen years and has a lot of astonishing stories to tell about his experiences as a European correspondent. Or why not get Livingston Longfellow? He has some grand motion pictures of hunting big game in India.”


J. A. Want, head of the J. A. Want Organization, one of the largest Hooven letter and photo-offset printing houses in New York, was faced with the necessity of changing a mechanic’s attitude and demands without arousing resentment. This mechanic’s job was to keep scores of type-writers and other hard-driven machines functioning smoothly night and day. He was always complaining that the hours were too long, that there was too much work, that he needed an assistant.

J. A. Want didn’t give him an assistant, didn’t give him shorter hours or less work, and yet he made the mechanic happy. How? This mechanic was given a private office. His name appeared on the door, and with it his title— “Manager of the Service Department.”

He was no longer a repair man to be ordered about by every Tom, Dick, and Harry. He was now the manager of a department. He had dignity, recognition, a feeling of importance. He worked happily and without complaint.

Childish? Perhaps. But that is what they said to Napoleon when he created the Legion of Honour and distributed 1,500 crosses to his soldiers and made eighteen of his generals “Marshals of France” and called his troops the “Grand Army”. Napoleon was criticized for giving “toys” to war-hardened veterans, and Napoleon replied : “Men are ruled by toys.”

This technique of giving titles and authority worked for Napoleon, and it will work for you. For example, a friend of mine, Mrs. Gent of Scarsdale, New York, whom I’ve already mentioned was troubled by boys running across and destroying her lawn. She tried criticism. She tried coaxing. Neither worked. Then she tried giving the worst sinner in the gang a title and a feeling of authority. She made him her “detective” and put him in charge of keeping all trespassers off her lawn. That solved her problem. Her “detective” built a bonfire in the backyard, heated an iron red hot, and threatened to burn any boy who stepped on the lawn.


Such is human nature. So, if you want to change people without arousing resentment or giving offence, Rule 9 is:


Make The Fault Seem Easy To Correct

A short time ago, a bachelor friend of mine, about forty years old, became engaged, and his fiancée persuaded him to take some belated dancing lessons. “The Lord knows I needed dancing lessons,” he confessed as he told me the story, “for I danced just as I did when I first started twenty years ago. The first teacher I engaged probably told me the truth. She said I was all wrong; I would just have to forget everything and begin all over again. But that took the heart out of me. I had no incentive to go on. So I quit her.

“The next teacher may have been lying; but I liked it. She said nonchalantly that my dancing was a bit old-fashioned perhaps, but the fundamentals were all right, and she assured me I wouldn’t have any trouble learning a few new steps. The first teacher had discouraged me by emphasizing my mistakes. This new teacher did the opposite. She kept praising the things I did right and minimizing my errors. ‘You have a natural sense of rhythm,’ she assured me. ‘You really are a natural born dancer.’ Now my common sense tells me that I always have been and always will be a fourth-rate dancer; yet, deep in my heart, I still like to think that maybe she meant it. To be sure, I was paying her to say it; but why bring that up?

“At any rate, I know I am a better dancer than I would have been if she hadn’t told me I had a natural sense of rhythm. That encouraged me. That gave me hope. That made me want to improve.”


Tell a child, a husband, or an employee that he is stupid or dumb at a certain thing, that he has no gift for it, and he is doing it all wrong and you have destroyed almost every incentive to try to improve. But use the opposite technique—be liberal with your encouragement; make the thing seem easy to do; let the other person know that you have faith in his ability to do it, that he has an undeveloped flair for it—and he will practise until the dawn comes at the window in order to excel.

That is the technique that Lowell Thomas uses; and believe me, he is a superb artist in human relations. He builds you up. He gives you confidence. He inspires you with courage and faith. For example, I spent the weekend with Mr. and Mrs. Thomas; and, on Saturday night, I was asked to sit in on a friendly bridge game before a roaring fire. Bridge? I? Oh, no! No! No! Not me. I knew nothing about it. The game had always been a black mystery to me. No! No! Impossible!

“Why, Dale, it is no trick at all,” Lowell replied. “There is nothing to bridge except memory and judgment. You once wrote a chapter on memory. Bridge will be a cinch for you. It is right up your alley.”

And presto, almost before I realized what I was doing, I found myself for the first time at a bridge table. All because I was told I had a natural flair for it and the game was made to seem easy.

Speaking of bridge reminds me of Ely Culbertson, Culbertson’s name is a household word wherever bridge is played; and his books on bridge have been translated into a dozen languages, and a million copies have been sold. Yet he told me he never would have made a profession out of the game if a young woman hadn’t assured him he had a flair for it.

When he came to America in 1922, he tried to get a job teaching philosophy and sociology, but he couldn’t.

Then he tried selling coal, and he failed at that.

Then he tried selling coffee, and he failed at that, too.

It never occurred to him in those days to teach bridge. He was not only a poor card player, but he was also very stubborn. He asked so many questions and held so many post-mortem examinations that no one wanted to play with him.

Then he met a pretty bridge teacher, Josephine Dillon, fell in love and married her. She noticed how carefully he analysed his cards and persuaded him that he was a potential genius at the card table. It was that encouragement, and that alone, Culbertson told me, that caused him to make a profession of bridge.

So, if you want to change people without giving offence or arousing resentment, Rule 8 is:


Give A Dog A Good Name

A friend of mine, Mrs. Ernest Gent, 175 Brewster Road, Scarsdale, New York, hired a servant girl, telling her to report for work the following Monday. In the meantime, Mrs. Gent telephoned a woman who had formerly employed this girl. All was not well. When the girl came to start work, Mrs. Gent said: “Nellie, I telephoned the other day to a woman you used to work for. She said you were honest and reliable, a good cook and good at caring for the children. But she also said you were sloppy and never kept the house clean. Now I think she was lying. You dress neatly. Anybody can see that. And I’ll bet you keep the house just as neat and clean as your person. You and I are going to get along fine.”

And they did. Nellie had a reputation to live up to; and believe me, she did live up to it. She kept the house shining. She would gladly have scrubbed and dusted an extra hour a day rather than be untrue to Mrs. Gent’s ideal of her.

“The average man”, said Samuel Vauclain, president of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, “can be led readily if you have his respect and if you show him that you respect him for some kind of ability.”

In short, if you want to improve a person in a certain respect, act as though that particular trait were already one of his outstanding characteristics. Shakespeare said: “Assume a virtue if you have it not.” And it might be well to assume and state openly that the other party has the virtue you want him to develop. Give him a fine reputation to live up to, and he will make prodigious efforts rather than see you disillusioned.

Georgette Leblanc, in her book, Souvenirs, My Life with Maeterlinck, describes the startling transformation of a humble Belgian Cinderella.

“A servant girl from a neighbouring hotel brought my meals” [she writes], “She was called ‘Marie the Dishwasher’ because she had started her career as a scullery assistant. She was a kind of monster, cross-eyed, bandy-legged, poor in flesh and spirit.

One day, while she was holding my plate of macaroni in her red hands, I said to her point-blank: ‘Marie, you do not know what treasures are within you.’

Accustomed to holding back her emotions, Marie waited a few moments, not daring to risk the slightest gesture for fear of a catastrophe. Then she put the dish on the table, sighed, and said ingenuously : ‘Madame, I would never have believed it.’ She did not doubt, she did not ask a question. She simply went back to the kitchen and repeated what I had said, and such is the force of faith that no one made fun of her. From that day on, she was even given a certain consideration. But the most curious change of all occurred in the humble Marie herself. Believing she was the tabernacle of unseen marvels, she began taking care of her face and body so carefully that her starved youth seemed to bloom and modestly hide her plainness.

Two months later, as I was leaving, she announced her coming marriage with the nephew of the chef. ‘I’m going to be a lady’, she said and thanked me. A small phrase had changed her entire life.”

Georgette Leblanc had given “Marie the Dishwasher” a reputation to live up to—and that reputation transformed her.

Henry Clay Risner used the same technique when he wanted to influence the conduct of American doughboys in France. General James G. Harbord, one of the most popular American generals, had told Risner that in his opinion the 2 million doughboys in France were the cleanest and most idealistic men of whom he had ever read, or with whom he had ever come in contact.

Extravagant praise? Perhaps. But see how Risner used it.

“I never failed to tell the soldiers what the General had said” [Risner writes]. “Not for a moment did I question whether it was true or not, but I knew that, even were they not, the knowledge of General Harbord’s opinion would inspire them to strive toward that standard.”

There is an old saying: “Give a dog a bad name and you may as well hang him.” But give him a good name—and see what happens!

Almost everyone—rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief —lives up to the reputation of honesty that is bestowed upon him.

“If you must deal with a crook,” says Warden Lawes of Sing Sing—and the warden ought to know what he’s talking about—“If you must deal with a crook, there is only one possible way of getting the better of him-—treat him as if he were an honourable gentleman. Take it for granted he is on the level. He will be so flattered by such treatment that he may answer to it, and be proud that someone trusts him.”

That is so fine, so significant that I am going to repeat it: “If you must deal with a crook, there is only one possible way of getting the better of him—treat him as if he were an honourable gentleman. Take it for granted he is on the level. He will be so flattered by such treatment that he may answer to it, and be proud that someone trusts him.”

So, if you want to influence the conduct of a man without arousing resentment or giving offence, remember Rule 7:


How to Spur Men on to Success

I used to know Pete Barlow. Pete had a dog-and-pony act and he spent his life travelling with circuses and vaudeville shows. I loved to watch Pete train new dogs for his act. I noticed that the moment a dog showed the slightest improvement, Pete patted and praised him and gave him meat and made a great to-do about it.

That’s nothing new. Animal trainers have been using that same technique for centuries.

Why, I wonder, don’t we use the same common sense when trying to change people that we use when trying to change dogs? Why don’t we use meat instead of a whip? Why don’t we use praise instead of condemnation? Let us praise even the slightest improvement. That inspires the other fellow to keep on improving.

Warden Lewis E. Lawes has found that praising the slightest improvement pays, even with crime-hardened men in Sing Sing. “I have found”, Warden Lawes said in a letter which I received while writing this chapter, “that the voicing of proper appreciation for the efforts of the in-mates secures greater results in obtaining their co-operation and furthering their ultimate rehabilitation than harsh criticism and condemnation for their delinquencies.”

I have never been incarcerated in Sing Sing—at least not yet—but I can look back at my own life and see where a few words of praise have sharply changed my entire future. Can’t you say the same thing about your life? History is replete with striking illustrations of the sheer witchery of praise.

For example, half a century ago a boy of ten was working in a factory in Naples. He longed to be a singer, but his first teacher discouraged him. “You can’t sing,” he said. “You haven’t any voice at all. It sounds like the wind in the shutters.”

But his mother, a poor peasant woman, put her arms about him and praised him and told him she knew he could sing, she could already see an improvement, and she went barefoot in order to save money to pay for his music lessons. That peasant mother’s praise and encouragement changed that boy’s life. You may have heard of him. His name was Caruso.

Years ago, a young man in London aspired to be a writer. But everything seemed to be against him. He had never been able to attend school more than four years. His father had been flung in jail because he couldn’t pay his debts, and this young man often knew the pangs of hunger. Finally, he got a job pasting labels on bottles of blacking in a rat-infested warehouse; and he slept at night in a dismal attic room with two other boys—gutter snipes from the slums of London. He had so little confidence in his ability to write that he sneaked out and mailed his first manuscript in the dead of night so nobody would laugh at him. Story after story was refused. Finally, the great day came when one was accepted. True, he wasn’t paid a shilling for it, but one editor had praised him. One editor had given him recognition. He was so thrilled that he wandered aimlessly around the streets with tears rolling down his cheeks.

The praise, the recognition that he received by getting one story in print, changed his whole career, for if it hadn’t been for that encouragement, he might have spent his entire life working in rat-infested factories. You may have heard of that boy, too. His name was Charles Dickens.

Half a century ago, another boy in London was working as a clerk in a dry-goods store. He had to get up at five o’clock, sweep out the store, and slave for fourteen hours a day. It was sheer drudgery, and he despised it. After two years, he could stand it no longer, so he got up one morning, and, without waiting for breakfast, tramped fifteen miles to talk to his mother, who was working as a housekeeper.

He was frantic. He pleaded with her. He wept. He swore he would kill himself if he had to remain in the shop any longer. Then he wrote a long, pathetic letter to his old schoolmaster, declaring that he was heartbroken, that he no longer wanted to live. His old schoolmaster gave him a little praise and assured him that he really was very intelligent and fitted for finer things, and offered him a job as a teacher.

That praise changed the future of that boy and made a lasting impression on the history of English literature. For that boy has since written seventy-seven books and made over a million dollars with his pen. You’ve probably heard of him. His name was H. G. Wells.

Back in 1922, a young man was living out in California having a hard time trying to support his wife. He sang in a church choir on Sundays and picked up $5 now and then by singing “Oh Promise Me” at a wedding. He was so hard up he couldn’t live in town, so he rented a rickety house that stood in the middle of a vineyard. It cost him only $12.50 a month, but, low as this rent was, he couldn’t pay it, and he got ten months behind. He worked in the vine- yard picking grapes to pay off his rent. He told me there were times when he had very little else to eat but grapes. He was so discouraged that he was about ready to forego a career as a singer and sell automobile trucks for a living when Rupert Hughes praised him. Rupert Hughes said to him : “You have the makings of a great voice. You ought to study in New York.”

That young man recently told me that that little bit of praise, that slight encouragement, proved to be the turning point in his career, for it inspired him to borrow $2,500 and start East. You may have heard of him too. His name is Lawrence Tibbett.

Talk about changing people. If you and I will inspire the people with whom we come in contact to a realization of the hidden treasures they possess, we can do far more than change people. We can literally transform them.

Exaggeration? Then listen to these sage words from the late Professor William James of Harvard, perhaps the most distinguished psychologist and philosopher America ever produced :

“Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake. We are making use of only a small part of our physical and mental resources. Stating the thing broadly, the human individual thus lives far within his limits. He possesses power of various sorts which he habitually fails to use.”

Yes, you who are reading these lines possess powers of various sorts which you habitually fail to use; and one of these powers which you are probably not using to the fullest extent is your magic ability to praise people and inspire them with a realization of their latent possibilities.

So, to change people without giving offence or arousing resentment, Rule 6 is :


Let the Other Man Save His Face

Years ago the General Electric Company was faced with the delicate task of removing Charles Steinmetz from the head of a department. Steinmetz, a genius of the first magnitude when it came to electricity, was a wash-out as the head of the calculating department. Yet the company didn’t dare offend the man. He was indispensable—and highly sensitive. So they gave him a new title. They made him Consulting Engineer of the General Electric Company—a new title for work he was already doing—and let someone else head up the department.

Steinmetz was happy.

So were the officers of the G. E. They had gently maneuvered their most temperamental star, and they had done it without a storm—by letting him save his face.

Letting him save his face! How important, how vitally important that is! And how few of us ever stop to think of it! We ride roughshod over the feelings of others, getting our own way, finding fault, issuing threats, criticizing a child or an employee in front of others, without even considering the hurt to the other person’s pride! Whereas a few minutes’ thought, a considerate word or two, a genuine understanding of the other person’s attitude would go so far toward alleviating the sting!

Let’s remember that the next time we are faced with the distasteful necessity of discharging a servant or an employee.

“Firing employees is not much fun. Getting fired is even less fun.” (I’m quoting now from a letter written me by Marshall A. Granger, a certified public accountant.) “Our business is mostly seasonal. Therefore we have to let a lot of men go in March.

It’s a byword in our profession that no one enjoys wielding the axe. Consequently, the custom has developed of getting it over as soon as possible, and usually in the following way: ‘Sit down, Mr. Smith. The season’s over, and we don’t seem to see any more assignments for you. Of course, you understand that you were only employed for the busy season anyhow, etc., etc.’

“The effect on the men was one of disappointment, and a feeling of being ‘let down’. Most of them were in the accounting field for life, and they retained no particular love for the firm that dropped them so casually.

“I recently decided to let our extra men go with a little more tact and consideration. So I have called each man in only after carefully thinking over his work during the winter. And I’ve said something like this: ‘Mr. Smith, you’ve done a fine job (if he has). That time we sent you over to Newark, you had a tough assignment. You were on the spot, but you came through with flying colours, and we want you to know the firm is proud of you. You’ve got the stuff—you’re going a long way, wherever you’re working. This firm believes in you, and is rooting for you, and we don’t want you to forget it!’

“Effect? The men go away feeling a lot better about being fired. They don’t feel ‘let down’. They know if we had work for them, we’d keep them on. And when we need them again, they come to us with a keen personal affection.”

The late Dwight Morrow possessed an uncanny ability to reconcile belligerents who wanted to fly at each other’s throats. How? He scrupulously sought what was right and just on both sides—he praised it, emphasized it, brought it carefully to the light—and no matter what the settlement, he never placed any man in the wrong.

That’s what every arbitrator knows—let men save their faces.

Really big men, the world over, are too big to waste time gloating over their personal triumphs. To illustrate:

In 1912, after centuries of bitter antagonism, the Turks determined to drive the Greeks forever from Turkish territory.

Mustapha Kemal made a Napoleonic speech to his soldiers, saying : “Your goal is the Mediterranean”, and one of the bitterest wars in modern history was on. The Turks won; and when the two Greek generals, Tricoupis and Dionis, made their way to Kemal’s headquarters to surrender, the Turkish people called down the curses of heaven upon their vanquished foes.

But Kemal’s attitude was free from triumph.

“Sit down, gentlemen,” he said, grasping their hands. “You must be tired.” Then, after discussing the campaign in detail, he softened the blow of their defeat. “War,” he said, as one soldier to another, “is a game in which the best men are sometimes worsted.”

Even in the full flush of victory, Kemal remembered this important rule (Rule 5 for us):


No One Likes To Take Orders

I recently had the pleasure of dining with Miss Ida Tarbell, the dean of American biographers. When I told her I was writing this book we began discussing this all-important subject of getting along with people, and she told me that while she was writing her biography of Owen D. Young she interviewed a man who had sat for three years in the same office with Mr. Young. This man declared that during all that time he had never heard Owen D. Young give a direct order to anyone. He always gave suggestions, not orders. Owen D. Young never said, for example: “Do this or do that”, or “Don’t do this or don’t do that.” He would say, “You might consider this”, or “Do you think that would work?” Frequently he would say, after he had dictated a letter: “What do you think of this?” In looking over a letter of one of his assistants, he would say: “Maybe if we were to phrase it this way it would be better.” He always gave a person an opportunity to do things himself; he never told his assistants to do things; he let them do them, let them learn from their mistakes, A technique like that makes it easy for a person to correct his error. A technique like that saves a man’s pride and gives him a feeling of importance. It makes him want to co-operate instead of rebel.

To change people without giving offence or arousing resentment, Rule 4 is:


Talk About Your Own Mistakes First

A few years ago, my niece, Josephine Carnegie, left her home in Kansas City and came to New York to act as my secretary. She was nineteen, had graduated from high school three years previously, and her business experience was a trifle more than zero. Today she is one of the most perfect secretaries west of Suez; but; in the beginning, she was—well, susceptible to improvement. One day when I started to criticize her, I said to myself: “Just a minute, Dale Carnegie; just a minute. You are twice as old as Josephine. You have had ten thousand times as much business experience. How can you possibly expect her to have your viewpoint, your judgment, your initiative – mediocre though they may be? And just a minute, Dale, what were you doing at nineteen? Remember the asinine mistakes, the fool blunders you made? Remember the time you did this… and that… ?”

After thinking the matter over, honestly and impartially, I concluded that Josephine’s batting average at nineteen was better than mine had been—and that, I’m sorry to confess, isn’t paying Josephine much of a compliment.

So after that, when I wanted to call Josephine’s attention to a mistake, I used to begin by saying : “You have made a mistake, Josephine, but the Lord knows, it’s no worse than many I have made. You were not born with judgment. That comes only with experience; and you are better than I was at your age. I have been guilty of so many stupid, silly things myself. I have very little inclination to criticize you or anyone, But don’t you think it would have been wiser if you had done so and so?”

It isn’t nearly so difficult to listen to a recital of your own faults if the criticizer begins by humbly admitting that he, too, is far from impeccable.

The polished Prince Bernhard von Bülow learned the sharp necessity of doing this back in 1909. Von Bülow was then the Imperial Chancellor of Germany, and on the throne sat Wilhelm II-Wilhelm, the haughty; Wilhelm the arrogant; Wilhelm, the last of the Kaisers, building an army and navy which he boasted could whip their weight in wild cats.

Then an astonishing thing happened. The Kaiser said things, incredible things, things that rocked the continent and started a series of explosions heard around the world. To make matters infinitely worse, the Kaiser made these silly, egotistical, absurd announcements in public, he made them while he was a guest in England, and he gave his royal permission to have them printed in the Daily Telegraph. For example, he declared that he was the only German who felt friendly towards the English; that he was constructing a navy against the menace of Japan; that he, and he alone, had saved England from being humbled in the dust by Russia and France; that it was his plan of campaign that enabled England’s Lord Roberts to defeat the Boers in South Africa; and so on and on.

No other such amazing words had ever fallen from the lips of a European king in peacetime within a hundred years. The entire continent buzzed with the fury of a hornet’s nest. England was incensed. German statesmen were aghast. And in the midst of all this consternation, the Kaiser became panicky, and suggested to Prince von Bülow, the Imperial Chancellor, that he take the blame. Yes, he wanted von Bülow to announce that it was all his responsibility, that he had advised his monarch to say these incredible things.

“But, Your Majesty,” von Bülow protested, “it seems to me utterly impossible that anybody either in Germany or England could suppose me capable of having advised Your Majesty to say any such thing.”

The moment those words were out of von Bülow’s mouth, he realized he had made a grave mistake. The Kaiser blew up.

“You consider me a donkey,” he shouted, “capable of blunders you yourself could never have committed!”

Von Bülow’s knew that he ought to have praised before he condemned; but since that was too late, he did the next best thing. He praised after he had criticized. And it worked a miracle—as praise often does.

“I’m far from suggesting that,” he answered respectfully, “Your Majesty surpasses me in many respects; not only, of course, in naval and military knowledge, but, above all, in natural science. I have often listened in admiration when Your Majesty explained the barometer, or wireless telegraphy, or the Rontgen rays. I am shamefully ignorant of all branches of natural science, have no notion of chemistry or physics, and am quite incapable of explaining the simplest of natural phenomena. But,” von Bülow continued, “in compensation, I possess some historical knowledge and perhaps certain qualities useful in politics, especially in diplomacy.”

The Kaiser beamed. Von Bulow had praised him. Von Bülow had exalted him and humbled himself. The Kaiser could forgive anything after that. “Haven’t I always told you,” he exclaimed with enthusiasm, “that we complete one another famously? We should stick together, and we will!”

He shook hands with von Bülow, not once, but several times. And later in the day he waxed so enthusiastic that he exclaimed with doubled fists: “If anyone says anything to me against Prince von Bülow, I shall punch him in the nose!

Von Bülow saved himself in time—but, canny diplomat that he was, he nevertheless had made one error: he should have begun by talking about his own shortcomings and Wilhelm’s superiority—not by intimating that the Kaiser was a half-wit in need of a guardian.

If a few sentences humbling oneself and praising the other party can turn a haughty, insulted Kaiser into a staunch friend, imagine what humility and praise can do for you and me in our daily contacts. Rightfully used, they will work veritable miracles in human relations.

To change people without giving offence or arousing resentment, Rule 3 is:


How to Criticize – and Not Be Hated for It

Charles Schwab was passing through one of his steel mills one day at noon when he came across some of his employees smoking. Immediately above their heads was a sign which said “No smoking.” Did Schwab point to the sign and say: “Can’t you read?” Oh, no, not Schwab. He walked over to the men, handed each one a cigar, and said: “I’ll appreciate it, boys, if you will smoke these on the outside.” They knew that he knew that they had broken a rule – and they admired him because he said nothing about it and gave them a little present and made them feel important. Couldn’t keep from loving a man like that, could you?

John Wanamaker used the same technique. Wanamaker used to make a tour of his great store in Philadelphia every day. Once he saw a customer waiting at a counter. No one was paying the slightest attention to her. The sales people? Oh, they were in a huddle at the far end of the counter laughing and talking among themselves. Wanamaker didn’t say a word. Quietly slipping behind the counter, he waited on the woman himself and then handed the purchase to the sales people to be wrapped as he went on his way.

On March 8, 1887, the eloquent Henry Ward Beecher died , or changed worlds, as the Japanese say. The following Sunday, Lyman Abbott was invited to speak in the pulpit left silent by Beecher’s passing. Eager to do his best, he wrote, rewrote, and polished his sermon with the meticulous care of a Flaubert. Then he read it to his wife. It was poor – as most written speeches are. She might have said, if she had had less judgment : “Lyman, that is terrible. That’ll never do. You’ll put people to sleep. It reads like an encyclopaedia. You ought to know better than that after all the years you have been preaching. For heaven’s sake, why don’t you talk like a human being? Why don’t you act natural? You’ll disgrace yourself if you ever read that stuff.”

That’s what she might have said. And, if she had, you know what would have happened. And she knew too. So, she merely remarked that it would make an excellent article for the North American Review. In other words, she praised it and at the same time subtly suggested that it wouldn’t do as a speech. Lyman Abbott saw the point, tore up his carefully prepared manuscript and preached without even using notes.

To change people without giving offence or arousing resentment, Rule 2 is :


If You Must Find Fault, This Is the Way to Begin

A friend of mine was a guest at the White House for a week-end during the administration of Calvin Coolidge. Drifting into the President’s private office, he heard Coolidge say to one of his secretaries: “That’s a pretty dress you are wearing this morning, and you are a very attractive young woman.”

That was probably the most effulgent praise Silent Cal had ever bestowed upon a secretary in his life. It was so unusual, so unexpected, that the girl blushed in confusion. Then Coolidge said: “Now, don’t get stuck up. I just said that to make you feel good. From now on, I wish you would be a little more careful with your punctuation.”

His method was probably a bit obvious, but the psychology was superb. It is always easier to listen to unpleasant things after we have heard some praise of our good points.

A barber lathers a man before he shaves him; and that is precisely what McKinley did back in 1896, when he was running for President. One of the prominent Republicans of that day had written a campaign speech that he felt was just a trifle better than Cicero and Patrick Henry and Daniel Webster all rolled into one. With great glee, this chap read his immortal speech aloud to McKinley. The speech had its fine points, but it just wouldn’t do. It would have raised a tornado of criticism. McKinley didn’t want to hurt the man’s feelings. He must not kill the man’s splendid enthusiasm, and yet he had to say “no”. Note how adroitly he did it.

“My friend, that is a splendid speech, a magnificent speech,” McKinley said. “No one could have prepared a better one. There are many occasions on which it would be precisely the right thing to say, but is it quite suitable to this peculiar occasion? Sound and sober as it is from your standpoint, I must consider its effect from the party’s standpoint. Now you go home and write a speech along the lines I indicate, and send me a copy of it.”

He did just that. McKinley blue-pencilled and helped him rewrite his second speech; and he became one of the effective speakers of the campaign.


Here is the second most famous letter that Abraham Lincoln ever wrote. (His most famous one was written to Mrs. Bixby, expressing his sorrow for the death of the five sons she had lost in battle.) Lincoln probably dashed this letter off in five minutes; yet it sold at public auction in 1926 for twelve thousand dollars. And that, by the way, was more money than Lincoln was able to save during half a century of hard work.

The letter was written on April 26, 1863, during the darkest period of the Civil War. For eighteen months Lincoln’s generals had been leading the Union Army from one tragic defeat to another. Nothing but futile, stupid, human butchery. The nation was appalled. Thousands of soldiers deserted from the army; and even the Republican members of the Senate revolted and wanted to force Lincoln out of the White House. “We are now on the brink of destruction,” Lincoln said. “It appears to me that even the Almighty is against us. I can hardly see a ray of hope.” Such was the period of black sorrow and chaos out of which this letter came.

I am printing the letter here because it shows how Lincoln tried to change an obstreperous general when the very fate of the nation might depend upon the general’s actions.

This is perhaps the sharpest letter Abe Lincoln wrote after he became President; yet you will note that he praised General Hooker before he spoke of his grave faults.

Yes, they were grave faults; but Lincoln didn’t call them that. Lincoln was more conservative, more diplomatic. Lincoln wrote: “There are some things in regard to which I am not quite satisfied with you.” Talk about tact! And diplomacy!

Here is the letter addressed to Major General Hooker:

“I have placed you at the head of the Army of the Potomac. Of course, I have done this upon what appear to me to be sufficient reasons, and yet I think it best for you to know that there are some things in regard to which I am not quite satisfied with you.

I believe you to be a brave and skilful soldier, which, of course, I like. I also believe you do not mix politics with your profession, in which you are right. You have confidence in yourself, which is a valuable if not an indispensable quality.

You are ambitious, which, within reasonable bounds, does good rather than harm, But I think that during General Burnside’s command of the army you have taken counsel of your ambition and thwarted him as much as you could, in which you did a great wrong to the country and to a most meritorious and honourable brother officer.

I have heard, in such a way as to believe it, of your recently saying that both the army and the Government needed a dictator. Of course, it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given you command.

Only those generals who gain successes can set up as dictators. What I now ask of you is military success and I will risk the dictatorship.

The Government will support you to the utmost of its ability, which is neither more nor less than it has done and will do for all commanders. I much fear that the spirit which you have aided to infuse into the army, of criticizing their commander and withholding confidence from him, will now turn upon you. I shall assist you, as far as I can, to put it down.

Neither you nor Napoleon, if he were alive again, could get any good out of an army while such spirit prevails in it, and now beware of rashness. Beware of rashness, but with energy and sleepless vigilance go forward and give us victories.”


You are not a Coolidge, a McKinley, or a Lincoln. You want to know whether this philosophy will operate for you in everyday business contacts. Will it? Let’s see. Let’s take the case of W. P. Gaw of the Wark Company, Philadelphia. Mr. Gaw is an ordinary citizen like you and me. He was a member of one of the courses I conducted in Philadelphia, and he related this incident in one of the speeches given before the class.

The Wark Company had contracted to build and complete a large office building in Philadelphia by a certain specified date. Everything was going along according to Hoyle, the building was almost finished, when suddenly the subcontractor making the ornamental bronze work to go on the exterior of this building declared that he couldn’t make delivery on schedule. What! An entire building held up! Heavy penalties! Distressing losses! All because of one man!

Long-distance telephone calls. Arguments! Heated conversations! All in vain. Then Mr. Gaw was sent to New York to beard the bronze lion in his den.

“Do you know you are the only man in Brooklyn with your name?” Mr. Gaw asked as he entered the president’s office. The president was surprised. “No, I didn’t know that.”

“Well,” said Mr. Gaw, “when I got off the train this morning, I looked in the telephone book to get your address, and you are the only man in the Brooklyn phone book with your name.”

“I never knew that,” the president said. He examined the phone book with interest. “Well, it’s an unusual name,” he said proudly. “My family came from Holland and settled in New York almost two hundred years ago.” He continued to talk about his family and his ancestors for several minutes. When he finished that, Mr. Gaw complimented him on how large a plant he had, and compared it favourably with a number of similar plants he had visited. “It is one of the cleanest and neatest bronze factories I ever saw,” said Gaw.

“I have spent a lifetime building up this business,” the president said, “and I am rather proud of it. Would you like to take a look around the factory?”

During this tour of inspection, Mr. Gaw complimented him on his system of fabrication, and told him how and why it seemed superior to those of some of his competitors. Mr. Gaw commented on some unusual machines, and the president announced that he himself had invented those machines. He spent considerable time showing Mr. Gaw how they operated and the superior work they turned out. He insisted on taking Mr. Gaw to lunch. So far, mind you, not a word had been said about the real purpose of Mr. Gaw’s visit.

After lunch, the president said: “Now, to get down to business. Naturally, I know why you are here. I did not expect that our meeting would be so enjoyable. You can go back to Philadelphia with my promise that your material will be fabricated and shipped, even if other orders have to be delayed.”

Mr. Gaw got everything that he wanted without even asking for it. The material arrived on time, and the building was completed the day the completion contract expired.

Would this have happened had Mr. Gaw used the hammer-and-dynamite method generally employed on such occasions?

To change people without giving offence or arousing resentment, Rule 1 is:


In a Nutshell


Rule 1: The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.

Rule 2: Show respect for the other man’s opinions. Never tell a man he is wrong.

Rule 3: If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.

Rule 4: Begin in a friendly way.

Rule 5: Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.

Rule 6: Let the other man do a great deal of the talking.

Rule 7: Let the other man feel that the idea is his.

Rule 8: Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.

Rule 9: Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.

Rule 10: Appeal to the nobler motives.

Rule 11: Dramatize your ideas.

Rule 12: Throw down a challenge.