Lemon #4. The of Socrates
In talking with people, don’t begin by discussing the things on which you differ. Begin by emphasizing – and keep on emphasizing – the things on which you agree. Keep emphasizing, that you’re both striving for the same end and that your only difference is one of method and not of purpose.
Get the other person saying ‘yes, yes’ at the outset. Keep your opponent, if possible, from saying ‘no’.
The skillful speaking gets, at the outset, a number of ‘yes’ responses. This sets the psychological process of the listeners moving in the affirmative direction. It’s like the movement of a billiard ball. Propel in one direction, and it takes some force to deflect it; far more force to send it back in the opposite direction.
Socrates. His method? Did he tell people they were wrong? Oh, no, not Socrates. He was far too adroit for that. His method was based upon getting a ‘yes, yes’ response. He asked questions with 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.
So, the next time we’re tempted to tell someone is wrong, let’s remember old Socrates and ask a gentle ‘yes, yes’ question.
Dale Carnegie @ How to win friends and influence people.