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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:
ASK QUESTIONS INSTEAD OF GIVING DIRECT ORDERS.