In talking to people, don’t begin by discussing the things on which you differ. Begin by emphasizing – and keep emphasizing-the things on which you agree. Keep emphasizing, if possible, that you are both striving for the same end and that your only difference is one of method and not of purpose. Once having said a thing, a person feels they must stick to it. Hence it is of the very greatest importance that a person be started in the affirmative direction.
The skillful speaker gets, at the outset, a number of “Yes” responses. This sets the psychological process of the listeners moving in the affirmative direction. It is 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. The more “Yeses” we can, at the very outset, induce, the more likely we are to succeed in capturing the attention for our ultimate proposal.
Socrates is honored as one of the wisest persuaders who ever influenced this wrangling worl d. His method? Did he tell people they were wrong? Oh, no, not Socrates. He was far too adroit for that. His whole technique, now called the “Socratic 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 the 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.
*Compilation taken from “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie