Disagreeing With Style

Our natural instinct is to argue when we disagree with someone. We want to be right. We want to make sure that they know they’re wrong and we’re right. We want to have credit for being right. But, in a world where everyone’s out for their own interests, we’ll be arguing 24/7 for the rest of our lives if we think of it that way.

One of the biggest points from Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, is that we should not argue. Never argue. Obviously, when you’re debating someone you are arguing, but you still don’t say all the time, “No. You’re wrong. I got the right idea…….”

Not saying that the other person is wrong is the biggest step towards influencing someone towards your way of thinking. This is because you have not immediately put the other person on the defensive. You are open to their ideas, even if you don’t agree with them. For example, and this is a very minor example, but it illustrates the point.

I meet my neighbor and mention that I just installed my entire house with Ethernet cables, getting rid of my Wi-Fi connection. Your neighbor says, “Are you kidding? It’s a pain, you can’t go anywhere in the house with your computer…..” Now you say indignantly, “Well! I like Ethernet cables and you should have them too. They are better.” And by that time your neighbor is so upset he decided to leave. OK. Great. You’ve just done a great job at convincing your neighbor that Ethernet cables are better than Wi-Fi.

Now, instead of getting defensive when my neighbor asks why I like Ethernet cables, I could say: “Well, you know, you’re right. Ethernet cables do prevent you from a connection from anywhere in the house. I chose Ethernet cables, though, because I find them healthier than Wi-Fi. For me, it’s more important to be healthy than to have a free internet connection all over the house.” Now your neighbor is nodding his head, agreeing, he’s even interested in what you have to say.  When you part, you didn’t argue, you’re still in a good relationship with your neighbor, and your neighbor may even be considering changing to Ethernet.

Going around at work, school, with family and friends, and being able to disagree with style is very important. You won’t be spending valuable energy all the time arguing with everybody who doesn’t agree with you. You will also have the nice feeling that you have more friends, and maybe you even changed someone’s way of thinking for the better.

In a business environment this is super, super important. You will be able to sell things better to customers. You will have more “friends” so you can do better business with them. You can make deals better. You can have a healthy relationship with your employees because they feel you understand their problems. They will be more likely to accept solutions.

Of course, being able to do this is not easy. It takes lots of practice and effort to do it naturally. But, the big key is that if you don’t mean what you say and say it from your heart, it won’t make a hoot of difference whether you yell or you talk smoothly. Not one bit. You have to take an honest interest in people and want to help them and want to understand them. That’s the whole key to being able to not only disagree with style, but win friends and influence people.

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