Wouldn't you like to have a magic phrase that wouldstop arguments, eliminate ill feeling, create good will,and make the other person listen attentively?
Yes? All right. Here it is: "I don’t blame you one iotafor feeling as you do. If I were you I would undoubtedlyfeel just as you do.”
An answer like that will soften the most cantankerousold cuss alive. And you can say that and be 100 percentsincere, because if you were the other person you, ofcourse, would feel just as he does. Take Al Capone, forexample. Suppose you had inherited the same body andtemperament and mind that Al Capone had. Supposeyou had had his environment and experiences. Youwould then be precisely what he was - and where hewas. For it is those things - and only those things - thatmade him what he was. The only reason, for example,that you are not a rattlesnake is that your mother andfather weren’t rattlesnakes.
You deserve very little credit for being what you are- and remember, the people who come to you irritated,bigoted, unreasoning, deserve very little discredit forbeing what they are. Feel sorry for the poor devils. Pitythem. Sympathize with them. Say to yourself: “There,but for the grace of God, go I.”
Three-fourths of the people you will ever meet arehungering and thirsting for sympathy. Give it to them,and they will love you.
I once gave a broadcast about the author of LittleWomen, Louisa May Alcott. Naturally, I knew she hadlived and written her immortal books in Concord, Massachusetts.But, without thinking what I was saying, Ispoke of visiting her old home in Concord. New Hampshire.If I had said New Hampshire only once, it might have been forgiven. But, alas and alack! I said it twice, Iwas deluged with letters and telegrams, stinging messagesthat swirled around my defenseless head like aswarm of hornets. Many were indignant. A few insulting.One Colonial Dame, who had been reared in Concord,Massachusetts, and who was then living in Philadelphia,vented her scorching wrath upon me. She couldn’t havebeen much more bitter if I had accused Miss Alcott ofbeing a cannibal from New Guinea. As I read the letter,I said to myself, “Thank God, I am not married to thatwoman.” I felt like writing and telling her that althoughI had made a mistake in geography, she had made a fargreater mistake in common courtesy. That was to be justmy opening sentence. Then I was going to roll up mysleeves and tell her what I really thought. But I didn’t.I controlled myself. I realized that any hotheadedfool could do that - and that most fools would do justthat.
I wanted to be above fools. So I resolved to try to turnher hostility into friendliness. It would be a challenge, asort of game I could play. I said to myself, "After all, ifI were she, I would probably feel just as she does.”So, I determined to sympathize with her viewpoint.The next time I was in Philadelphia, I called her on thetelephone. The conversation went something likethis:
ME: Mrs. So-and-So, you wrote me a letter a few weeksago, and I want to thank you for it.
SHE: (in incisive, cultured, well-bred tones): To whomhave I the honor of speaking?
ME: I am a stranger to you. My name is Dale Carnegie.You listened to a broadcast I gave about Louisa MayAlcott a few Sundays ago, and I made the unforgivableblunder of saying that she had lived in Concord,New Hampshire. It was a stupid blunder, andI want to apologize for it. It was so nice of you totake the time to write me.
SHE : I am sorry, Mr. Carnegie, that I wrote as I did. I lostmy temper. I must apologize.
ME: No! No! You are not the one to apologize; I am. Any school child would have known better than to havesaid what I said. I apologized over the air the followingSunday, and I want to apologize to you personallynow.
SHE : I was born in Concord, Massachusetts. My familyhas been prominent in Massachusetts affairs for twocenturies, and I am very proud of my native state. Iwas really quite distressed to hear you say that MissAlcott had lived in New Hampshire. But I am reallyashamed of that letter.
ME: I assure you that you were not one-tenth as distressedas I am. My error didn’t hurt Massachusetts,but it did hurt me. It is so seldom that people ofyour standing and culture take the time to writepeople who speak on the radio, and I do hope youwill write me again if you detect an error in mytalks.
SHE: You know, I really like very much the way you haveaccepted my criticism. You must be a very nice person.I should like to know you better.
So, because I had apologized and sympathized withher point of view, she began apologizing and sympathizingwith my point of view, I had the satisfaction ofcontrolling my temper, the satisfaction of returningkindness for an insult. I got infinitely more real fun outof making her like me than I could ever have gotten outof telling her to go and take a jump in the SchuylkillRiver,
Every man who occupies the White House is facedalmost daily with thorny problems in human relations.President Taft was no exception, and he learned fromexperience the enormous chemical value of sympathy inneutralizing the acid of hard feelings. In his book Ethicsin Service, Taft gives rather an amusing illustration ofhow he softened the ire of a disappointed and ambitiousmother.
“A lady in Washington,” wrote Taft, “whose husbandhad some political influence, came and labored with mefor six weeks or more to appoint her son to a position.
She secured the aid of Senators and Congressmen informidable number and came with them to see that theyspoke with emphasis. The place was one requiring technicalqualification, and following the recommendationof the head of the Bureau, I appointed somebody else. Ithen received a letter from the mother, saying that I wasmost ungrateful, since I declined to make her a happywoman as I could have done by a turn of my hand. Shecomplained further that she had labored with her statedelegation and got all the votes for an administration billin which I was especially interested and this was theway I had rewarded her.
“When you get a letter like that, the first thing you dois to think how you can be severe with a person who hascommitted an impropriety, or even been a little impertinent.Then you may compose an answer. Then if youare wise, you will put the letter in a drawer and lock thedrawer. Take it out in the course of two days - such communicationswill always bear two days’ delay in answering- and when you take it out after that interval, youwill not send it. That is just the course I took. After that,I sat down and wrote her just as polite a letter as I could,telling her I realized a mother’s disappointment undersuch circumstances, but that really the appointment wasnot left to my mere personal preference, that I had toselect a man with technical qualifications, and had,therefore, to follow the recommendations of the head ofthe Bureau. I expressed the hope that her son would goon to accomplish what she had hoped for him in theposition which he then had. That mollified her and shewrote me a note saying she was sorry she had written asshe had.
“But the appointment I sent in was not confirmed atonce, and after an interval I received a letter which purportedto come from her husband, though it was in thethe same handwriting as all the others. I was thereinadvised that, due to the nervous prostration that had followedher disappointment in this case, she had to taketo her bed and had developed a most serious case ofcancer of the stomach. Would I not restore her to healthby withdrawing the first name and replacing it by herson’s? I had to write another letter, this one to the husband,to say that I hoped the diagnosis would prove tobe inaccurate, that I sympathized with him in the sorrow he must have in the serious illness of his wife, but that itwas impossible to withdraw the name sent in. The manwhom I appointed was confirmed, and within two daysafter I received that letter, we gave a musicale at theWhite House. The first two people to greet Mrs. Taft andme were this husband and wife, though the wife had sorecently been in articulo mortis."
Jay Mangum represented an elevator-escalator main-tenancecompany in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which had themaintenance contract for the escalators in one of Tulsa’sleading hotels. The hotel manager did not want to shutdown the escalator for more than two hours at a timebecause he did not want to inconvenience the hotel’sguests. The repair that had to be made would take atleast eight hours, and his company did not always havea specially qualified mechanic available at the convenienceof the hotel.
When Mr. Mangum was able to schedule a top-flightmechanic for this job, he telephoned the hotel managerand instead of arguing with him to give him the necessarytime, he said:
“Rick, I know your hotel is quite busy and you wouldlike to keep the escalator shutdown time to a minimum.I understand your concern about this, and we want to doeverything possible to accommodate you. However, ourdiagnosis of the situation shows that if we do not do acomplete job now, your escalator may suffer more seriousdamage and that would cause a much longer shutdown.I know you would not want to inconvenienceyour guests for several days.”
The manager had to agree that an eight-hour shutdown was more desirable than several days'. By sympathizingwith the manager’s desire to keep his patronshappy, Mr. Mangum was able to win the hotel managerto his way of thinking easily and without rancor.
Joyce Norris, a piano teacher in St, Louis, Missouri,told of how she had handled a problem piano teachersoften have with teenage girls. Babette had exceptionallylong fingernails. This is a serious handicap to anyonewho wants to develop proper piano-playing habits.
Mrs. Norris reported: “I knew her long fingernailswould be a barrier for her in her desire to play well.During our discussions prior to her starting her lessonswith me, I did not mention anything to her about hernails. I didn’t want to discourage her from taking lessons,and I also knew she would not want to lose thatwhich she took so much pride in and such great care tomake attractive.
“After her first lesson, when I felt the time was right,I said: ‘Babette, you have attractive hands and beautifulfingernails. If you want to play the piano as well as youare capable of and as well as you would like to, youwould be surprised how much quicker and easier itwould be for you, if you would trim your nails shorter.Just think about it, Okay?’ She made a face which wasdefinitely negative. I also talked to her mother about thissituation, again mentioning how lovely her nails were.Another negative reaction. It was obvious that Babette’sbeautifully manicured nails were important to her.
“The following week Babette returned for her secondlesson. Much to my surprise, the fingernails had beentrimmed. I complimented her and praised her for makingsuch a sacrifice. I also thanked her mother for influencingBabette to cut her nails. Her reply was ‘Oh, I hadnothing to do with it. Babette decided to do it on herown, and this is the first time she has ever trimmed hernails for anyone.’ "
Did Mrs. Norris threaten Babette? Did she say shewould refuse to teach a student with long fingernails?No, she did not. She let Babette know that her finger-nails were a thing of beauty and it would be a sacrificeto cut them. She implied, “I sympathize with you - Iknow it won’t be easy, but it will pay off in your bettermusical development.”
Sol Hurok was probably America’s number one impresario.For almost half a century he handled artists - suchworld-famous artists as Chaliapin, Isadora Duncan, andPavlova. Mr. Hurok told me that one of the first lessonshe had learned in dealing with his temperamental starswas the’ necessity for sympathy, sympathy and moresympathy with their idiosyncrasies.
For three years, he was impresario for Feodor Chaliapin -one of the greatest bassos who ever thrilled theritzy boxholders at the Metropolitan, Yet Chaliapin wasa constant problem. He carried on like a spoiled child.To put it in Mr. Hurok’s own inimitable phrase: “Hewas a hell of a fellow in every way.”
For example, Chaliapin would call up Mr. Hurokabout noun of the day he was going to sing and say, “Sol,I feel terrible. My throat is like raw hamburger. It isimpossible for me to sing tonight.” Did Mr. Hurok arguewith him? Oh, no. He knew that an entrepreneurcouldn’t handle artists that way. So he would rush overto Chaliapin’s hotel, dripping with sympathy. “What apity, " he would mourn. “What a pity! My poor fellow.Of course, you cannot sing. I will cancel the engagementat once. It will only cost you a couple of thousand dollars,but that is nothing in comparison to your reputation."
Then Chaliapin would sigh and say, “Perhaps you hadbetter come over later in the day. Come at five and seehow I feel then.”
At five o’clock, Mr. Hurok would again rush to hishotel, dripping with sympathy. Again he would insist oncanceling the engagement and again Chaliapin wouldsigh and say, “Well, maybe you had better come to seeme later. I may be better then.”
At seven-thirty the great basso would consent to sing,only with the understanding that Mr. Hurok would walkout on the stage of the Metropolitan and announce thatChaliapin had a very bad cold and was not in good voice.Mr. Hurok would lie and say he would do it, for heknew that was the only way to get the basso out on thestage.
Dr. Arthur I. Gates said in his splendid book EducationalPsychology: “Sympathy the human species universallycraves. The child eagerly displays his injury; oreven inflicts a cut or bruise in order to reap abundantsympathy. For the same purpose adults . . . show theirbruises, relate their accidents, illness, especially detailsof surgical operations. ‘Self-pity’ for misfortunes real orimaginary is in some measure, practically a universalpractice."
So, if you want to win people to your way of thinking,put in practice . . .
PRINCIPLE 9 Be sympathetic with the other person’sideasand desires.
I often went fishing up in Maine during the summer.Personally I am very fond of strawberries and cream, butI have found that for some strange reason, fish preferworms. So when I we
Psychologists know you have to be careful when you go poking around the human mind because you're never sure what you'll find there. A number of psychological experiments over the