Chapter 14: The Secret of Socrates
When talking to people, you shouldn’t start with differences. Conversely, we can begin by emphasizing points on which both sides agree. If possible, keep emphasizing that both are striving for the same goal, the only difference between the two is the method. The answer “Yes” from the beginning would be much better.
According to Professor Overstreet, “No” is a difficult obstacle to overcome. Once you’ve said “No,” all personal pride requires you to agree with yourself. Then, even if you realize that the answer “No” is unstable, your inherent pride will not allow you to change. Once you’ve said something, you feel obliged to stick to it and defend it. Therefore, it is necessary to let people agree with you from the very beginning. That is very important.
A person’s “Yes” response from the very beginning will cause his or her thinking and decision-making process to go in the direction of agreeing. It is like the movement of a marble. When it is pushed in one direction, it needs a strong enough force to change direction, and a much greater force to roll in the opposite direction. When a person has really said “No”, all of his senses, nervous system, and muscles are concentrated in a state of refusal.
In contrast, when a person says “Yes,” every cell in his or her body relaxes in a state of readiness to receive. Therefore, if we win a lot of “Yes” from the beginning, we have opened the way for the reception of the final offer our goal.
The secret to exploiting the “Yes” response helped James Eberson, a credit officer, keep Greenwich Savings in New York a very potential customer. He said:
“The customer walked in to open an account. I showed him how to fill in some personal information in the papers. But he refused to answer some questions. If before, I told him that, if you do not provide complete information, I cannot accept your money. It’s a shame because I’ve done so many things like that. I also feel good because I have shown people who are the owners, can not ignore the rules of the bank.
I should have understood that the customer is the one who has the right to demand respect and a warm welcome. But that morning, after learning Dale Carnegie’s golden rules of dealing with people, I decided to act smarter. I told myself not to talk about what the bank wanted, but about what the customer wanted. Most importantly, I had to get him to say “Yes” in the first place. So I told him that the information he refused to give was not very necessary.
However, I added: “Suppose you have a bad luck, do you want the bank to give the money in your account to your heirs according to the law?”.
“Yes, of course there is.” – He replied.
“Then do you think it is advisable to tell us the name of the nearest relative so that in that case we can fulfill your wishes without confusion and delay?”
Again he said, “Yes”.
The visitor’s attitude softened and began to change when he understood that we were asking for this information not for our benefit but for his benefit. So that young customer not only gave me all the information about himself, but also opened a trust account for his mother in the beneficiary’s name and happily answered all questions related to her beloved your mother precious.”
Joseph Allison, a sales representative for Westinghouse Electric Company, recounted the following story:
“Our company is very interested in selling through a chief engineer of a company in the area. For ten years, my predecessor went to his house repeatedly but to no avail. When I was in charge of this area, it took me three years to go to his house regularly but still couldn’t find an order.
Finally, after thirteen years of visiting, we were able to sell him a few machines. If all goes well, the next order will be a few hundred more. I knew our machine was very good, so three weeks later I went to see him with great enthusiasm and confidence.
The chief engineer greeted me with an annoyed greeting: “Mr. Allison, I can’t buy your machine anymore.”
I asked surprised: “Sir, can you tell me the reason why?”.
The engineer replied: “Your machine is too hot. Can’t put a hand in.”
I know there’s no point in arguing. I’ve been trying this for too long. So I thought of finding the answer “Yes, yes”.
I said, “That’s right, Mr. Smith. I completely agree with him. If the machine runs too hot, do not buy. Do you need a machine that does not generate heat beyond the standards allowed by the National Association of Electrical Equipment Manufacturers?”
Of course I got my first “Yes”.
“Does the Society stipulate that the machine must not generate heat higher than temperature to go over 34 degrees?”
“Yes,” he agreed, adding: “That is absolutely true. But his machines are much hotter.”
I don’t argue with him. I just said, “Sir, what is the temperature of the engine room?”.
“About 35 degrees.”
“So, if the engine room temperature is 35, add another 34 degrees to 69 degrees. If you put your hand in a pot of hot water of 69 degrees, is it almost a burn?”
Again he had to say “Yes”.
“In that case, wouldn’t it be better if you didn’t put your hand on the machine?”
He accepted: “Yes, you are right”. We continued talking for a while. Then he called his secretary in to write me a $35,000 order for next month.
It took me years and thousands of dollars to understand that arguing is pointless. It is much more beneficial to see things from the other person’s point of view and get them to say “Yes, yes.”
Socrates is one of the greatest philosophers in the world. He did something that very few humans can do: completely change the way people think. To this day, twenty-four centuries after his death, he is still celebrated as one of the wisest orators who had a powerful influence on the whole world.
What is your method? His whole skill, now known as the “Socratic Method”, was based solely on exploiting the answer “Yes, yes”. He often asked questions that the other person had to agree with. He then proceeded to lead them from one admission to another, until at last they “voluntarily agreed” to an opinion they had vehemently rejected a few minutes earlier.
The next time we intend to say that someone is wrong, remember Socrates and choose to open with a gentle question that can lead to a “yes” answer. The Chinese have a very wise saying that has been passed down for generations in the East: “Whoever walks lightly will go far”.
The most precious key is the one that can open people’s hearts. Always remember: tenderness and affection are more powerful than force and anger.
Rule 14: Ask questions that make people say “yes” immediately.