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Human Relations Principle #14 to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

“He who treads softly goes far.”

~Chinese Proverb





Human Relations Principle #14: Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.

(“The secret of Socrates.”)

(This is the fourteenth in a series of articles where I will encapsulate each of Dale Carnegie’s timeless, life-changing principles for dealing with people. (Adapted from How to Win Friends and Influence People.))*

It doesn’t pay to argue. It is much more profitable and much more interesting to look at things from the other person’s viewpoint and try to get that person saying “yes, yes.”

In talking with people, don’t begin by discussing things on which you differ. Begin by emphasizing—and keep on emphasizing—the things on which you agree. Keep emphasizing, if possible, that you are both striving for the same end and that your only difference is one of method and not of purpose.

The skillful speaker, salesperson and politician gets, at the outset, a number of “Yes” responses. This is the psychological process of moving the listener in the affirmative direction.

Be as Persuasive as Socrates

Socrates was one of the greatest philosophers the world has ever known. He sharply changed the whole course of human thought. Now, twenty-four centuries after his death, he is honored as one of the wisest persuaders who ever influenced this wrangling world.

His method? Did he tell people they were wrong? Oh, no, not Socrates. He was far too adroit for that. His whole technique, now called the “Socratic method,” was based upon getting a “yes, yes” response. He asked questions in which his opponent would have to agree. He kept on winning one admission after another until he had an armful of yeses.

He kept on asking questions until finally, almost without realizing it, his opponents found themselves embracing a conclusion they would have bitterly denied a few minutes previously.

Understand the Psychology Science of “No” and “Yes”

A “No” response, according to Professor Harry Overstreet (author of Influencing Human Behavior, 1925), is a most difficult handicap to overcome. When you have said “No,” all your pride of personality demands that you remain consistent with yourself. Once having said a thing, you feel you must stick to it.

The psychological patterns here are quite clear. When a person says “No” and really means it, the entire organism—glandular, nervous, muscular—gathers itself together into a condition of rejection. The whole neuromuscular system, in short, sets itself on guard against acceptance.

When, to the contrary, a person says “Yes,” none of the withdrawal responses takes place. The organism is in a forward-moving, accepting open attitude. Hence, the more “Yeses” we can induce at the outset, the more likely we are to succeed in capturing the other person’s attention for our ultimate proposal.

The next time we are tempted to tell someone he or she is wrong, let’s remember old Socrates and ask a gentle question—a question that will get the “yes, yes” response we desire.

Much success and fulfillment with mastering human relations,



* The best guide on effective human relations that I have ever encountered is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, published in 1936. Prior to writing the book, Carnegie spent 20 years researching the habits of successful people. The book has sold over 30 million copies and is still listed on Amazon’s top 100 best selling books.

Other articles within this series you may enjoy:

3 Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

6 Ways to Make People Like You

12 Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking


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