10. An Appeal that Everybody Likes: Appeal to the Nobler Motives
J.P. Morgan once observed that everyone has two reasons for doing a thing: One that sounds good and the real reason. We all want to think of ourselves as good people, fine, and unselfish. So, when people appeal to that basic desire in us, we are more willing to listen and do what they want us to do. Here are some examples of appeal to people’s nobler sides to change their behavior.
Hamilton Farrell had a disgruntled tenant who threatened to break his lease and move out. This is how he told the story: “These people had lived in my house all winter—the most expensive part of the year. And, I knew it would be difficult to rent the apartment again before fall. I could see all that rent income going over the hill. And, believe me, I saw red. Now, ordinarily, I would have waded into that tenant and advised him to read his lease again. I would have pointed out that if he moved, the full balance of his rent would fall due at once—and, that I could, and would, move to collect.
“However, instead of flying off the handle and making a scene, I decided to try other tactics. So, I started like this: ‘Mr. Doe,’ I said, ‘I have listened to your story, and I still don’t believe you intend to move. Years in the renting business have taught me something about human nature; and, I sized you up in the first place as being a man of your word. In fact, I’m so sure of it that I’m willing to take a gamble. Now, here’s my proposition. Lay your decision on the table for a few days, and think it over. If you come back to me between now and the first of the month, when your rent is due, and tell me you still intend to move, I give you my word I will accept your decision as final. I will privilege you to move and admit to myself I’ve been wrong in my judgment. But, I still believe you’re a man of your word and will live up to your contract. For, after all, we are either men or monkeys—and the choice usually lies with ourselves!’
“Well, when the new month came around, this gentleman came to see me and paid his rent in person. He and his wife had talked it over, he said, and decided to stay. They had concluded that the only honorable thing to do was to live up to their lease.”
When Lord Northcliffe wanted a newspaper to stop printing an unflattering photo of himself, he appealed to their regard for mothers when he wrote to them: “Please do not publish that picture of me anymore. My mother doesn’t like it.”
When John D. Rockefeller wanted the newspaper photographers to stop taking photographs of his children, he appealed to their regard for children: “You know how it is, Boys. You’ve got children yourselves, some of you. And, you know it’s not good for youngsters to get too much publicity.”
Cyrus Curtis, owner of the Saturday Evening Post and the Ladies’ Home Journal, when he was first starting out could not afford the best writers. So, he appealed to their nobler motives. For example, he convinced Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, to write for him when he offered to send a check for one hundred dollars to her favorite charity.
Nothing works in all cases; and, nothing works with everyone. But, if you are not happy with the results you are getting now, why not try it? Even if it doesn’t work, at least you will have more fun trying than from arguing with people.
Consider this next story by James Thomas, a bill collection specialist for an automobile dealer and service and repair shop. Six customers refused to pay their servicing bills. None of them refuted the entire bill. Instead, each of them claimed only one item on the bill was wrong. But, since they had all signed for the work done, the men in the credit department insisted the bills were correct. They visited each customers and told them:
1. They had come to collect a bill that was long past due.
2. The company was right.
3. So the customer was wrong.
4. And, they hinted that the customer could not possibly know as much as their automobiles as the company did.
The result? They argued.
The credit manager was about to call in the lawyers, when the general manager learned of these problems. The general manager investigated further and found that each of these customers had been prompt paying customers until now. He decided to call Thomas to collect these “uncollectible” accounts. Thomas explains the steps he took:
1. “My visit to each customer was likewise to collect a bill long past due, a bill that we knew was absolutely right. But, I didn’t say a word about that. I explained I had called to find out what it was the company had done, or failed to do.
2. “I made it clear that, until I had heard the customer’s story, I had no opinion to offer. I told him the company made no claims to being infallible.
3. “I told him I was interested only in his car, and that he knew more about his car than anyone else in the world, that he was the authority on the subject.
4. “I let him talk; and, I listened to him with all the interest and sympathy that he wanted and had expected.
5. “Finally, when the customer was in a reasonable mood, I put the whole thing up to his sense of fair play. I appealed to the nobler motives. ‘First,’ I said, ‘I want you to know I also feel that this matter has been badly mishandled. You’ve been inconvenienced and annoyed and irritated by one of our representatives. That should never have happened. I’m sorry, and, as a representative of the company, I apologize. As I sat here and listened to your side of the story, I could not help being impressed by your fairness and patience. And, now, because you are fair-minded and patient, I am going to ask you to do something for me. It’s something that you can do better than anyone else, something you know more about than anyone else. Here is your bill. I know it is safe for me to ask you to adjust it, just as you would if you were the president of my company. I am going to leave it all up to you. Whatever you say goes.’
“Did he adjust the bill? He certainly did, and got quite a kick out of it. The bills ranged from $150 to $400. But, did the customer give himself the best of it? Yes, one of them did! One refused to pay a penny of the disputed charge; but, the other five all gave the company the best of it! And here’s the cream of the whole thing: We delivered new cars to all six of these customers within the next two years!
“Experience has taught me that when no information can be secured about the customer, the only sound basis on which to proceed is to assume that he is sincere, honest, truthful, willing, and anxious to pay the charges, once convinced they are correct. To put it differently, and perhaps more clearly, people are honest and want to discharge their obligations. The exceptions to that rule are comparatively few; and, I am convinced that the individuals who are inclined to chisel will in most cases react favorably if you make them feel that you consider them honest, upright, and fair.”
11. The Movies Do it. TV Does It. Why Don’t You Do it?: Don’t Just Say It, Give Life to Your Ideas with Demonstrations, Dramatizations, and Showmanship.
If you have something you want to convey, make it vivid, interesting, and dramatic. Use showmanship. The movies do it. TV does it. And, you will have to do it, too, if you want your ideas to be widely known.
The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin reacted quickly to rumors that they were losing readers due to too much advertising and too little news. It took all of the news stories it had printed on a typical day, categorized them, and published them in a 307-page book with the title One Day. This book dramatized the fact that there was as much interesting reading material published in just one daily Bulletin as in a hardcover book.
Jim Yeamans, a salesman for the NCR Company in Richmond, Virginia, explained how he used dramatization to make his point: “Last week, I called on a neighborhood grocer and saw that the cash registers he was using was at his checkout counters were very old-fashioned. I approached the owner and told him: ‘You are literally throwing away pennies every time a customer goes through your line.’ With that, I threw a handful of pennies on the floor. He quickly became more attentive. The mere words should have been of interest to him; but, the sound of pennies hitting the floor really stopped him. I was able to get an order from him to replace all of his machines.”
James Boynton had to prepare a long market report for a brand of cold cream and all of its competitors. The potential customer was one of the biggest and most feared men in advertising. Dramatization eventually made his point:
“The first time I went in, I found myself sidetracked into a futile discussion of the methods used in the investigation. He argued, and I argued. He told me that I was wrong, and I tried to prove that I was right. I finally won my point to my own satisfaction. But, my time was up. The interview was over. And, I still hadn’t produced results. The second time, I didn’t bother with tabulations of figures and data.
“As I entered his office, he was busy on the phone. While he finished his conversation, I opened a suitcase and dumped 32 jars of cold cream on top of his desk—all products he knew—all competitors of his cream. On each jar, I had a tag itemizing the results of the trade investigation. And, each tag told its story, briefly, dramatically.
“There was no longer an argument. Here was something new, something different. He picked up first one and then another of the jars of cold cream and read the information on the tag. A friendly conversation developed. He asked additional questions. He was intensely interested. He had originally given me only ten minutes to present my facts; but, ten minutes passed, twenty minutes, forty minutes. And, at the end of an hour, we were still talking. I was presenting the same facts this time I had presented previously. But, this time I was using dramatization, showmanship—and, what a difference it made!”
12. When Nothing Else Works, Try This: Throw Down a Challenge
Charles Schwab said, “The way to get things done is to stimulate competition. I do not mean in a sordid, money-getting way, but in the desire to excel.”
Frederic Herzberg, a behavioral scientist who studied the work attitudes of thousands of people, from factory workers to senior executives, found the single motivating factor for workers was the work itself. Carnegie described Herzberg’s finding: “If the work was exciting and interesting, the worker looked forward to doing it and was motivated to do a good job.” Carnegie further expanded on this theme to conclude: “That is why every successful person loves the game. The chance for self expression. The chance to prove his worth, to excel, to win. That is what makes foot-races, and hog-calling, and pie-eating contests. The desire to excel. The desire for a feeling of importance.”
RECAP OF WIN PEOPLE TO YOUR WAY OF THINKING
1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
2. Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”
3. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
4. Begin in a friendly way.
5. Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.
6. Let the other person do most of the talking.
7. Let the other person feel the idea is his.
8. Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
9. By sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
10. Appeal to the nobler motives.
11. Demonstrate, dramatize, and “showbiz” your ideas.
12. Throw down a challenge.