Selling Praise

More from How To Win Friends And Influence People:

Jesse James probably regarded himself as an idealist at heart. … The fact is that all people you meet have a high regard for themselves and like to be fine and unselfish in their own estimation. J. [P.] Morgan observed … that a person usually has two reasons for doing a thing: one that sounds good and a real one. The person himself will think of the real reason. You don’t need to emphasize that. But all of us, being idealists at heart, like to think of motives that sound good. So, in order to change people, appeal to the nobler motives. …

When the late Lord Northcliffe found a newspaper using a picture of him which he didn’t want published, he wrote the editor a letter. But did he say, “Please do not publish that picture of me any more; I don’t like it”? No, he appealed to a nobler motive. He appealed to the respect and love that all of us have for motherhood. He wrote, “Please do not publish that picture of me any more. My mother doesn’t like it.”

I doubt that people have more trouble thinking of ideal vs. non-ideal reasons for doing things. So why do you persuade better by pointing to ideal reasons for something you’d like people to do? Because you implicitly offer a complement to an idealistic act: recognition. People are more eager for others to recognize idealistic acts, vs. other acts. If they follow your suggestion to do something for which you’ve offered an idealistic reason, they know you are available to tell others of their idealism. Which makes that idealism worth much more.

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  • “Every generation gets the self-help guru that it deserves”

    What does how to gain friends say about its time that would not hold true today?

  • Somehere a while back I saw reference to a study that showed if you presented people with a presumption of idealistic behavior, they actually would tend to behave more idealistically.

  • Ely

    Do you think that pointing out idealistic reasons also appeals to others’ far mode inclinations? They might be more willing to take advice that they personally find less practical if you present it to them with far mode implications. Changing opinions seems like something we can constantly come up with near mode reasons to avoid (even if the reasons aren’t all that good).

  • lemmy caution

    There is a shout out to Dale Carnegie in jonathan haidt’s new book.

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  • You speak of a long-vanished period (19th c.), when cultures were homogeneous and values were shared.
    Multiculti destroyed all that, so a shared culture is a fantasy, unfortunately.