Understand the other person’s perspective, Part III

by Edward Henkler on March 19, 2013

Dale Carnegie - 3b39769_150px

Advice as relevant today as it was 100 years ago



Nearly 80 years ago, Dale Carnegie wrote a book entitled, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” (you can order via my sidebar widget).  The writing style is a bit old-fashioned but the advice is timeless.  Simply summarized, the primary theme is to always consider the other person’s point of view.  What motivates them?  I think you might find some of the following bullets insightful:

  • “Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself.  Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.”
  • “There is only one way under high heaven to get anybody to do anything.  Did you ever stop to think of that?  Yes, just one way.  And that is by making the other person want to do it.”
  • “If there is one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.”

There are many other similar insights throughout the book.  They also remind me of some of the best advice I ever received from my father.  His principle was to never yell at another person as he contended that shifted their focus from the dispute to defending themselves.

How might his philosophy be applied in Union/Management negotiations?  It’s hard to pick up the paper without finding an article about Union/Management negotiations, whether it is for the airlines, teachers, nurses, or people involved in the trades and services industries.  The exact words may change but you can always count on words such as:

  • The Union doesn’t understand the dire state of our finances and are unwilling to compromise.
  • Management is paid obscene sums while the workers are barely at sustenance levels.
  • Management is outsourcing all of our jobs.

I am not a negotiator but just wonder how the discussion might proceed if we could understand the other person’s perspective.  Perhaps this is what they’re thinking:

  • I know the Company is struggling financially.  There are many things we could do to improve our efficiency but no one ever asks my opinion.  They seem to think the only solution is to reduce our benefits.
  • I know I’m paid handsomely but I’ve turned down even better offers because I want to see my company succeed.  The money is nice but I wish I wasn’t on call 24/7 and didn’t miss so many of my children’s events.  I also feel enormous stress as when I make a mistake, people lose their livelihoods.
  • I wish we didn’t have to outsource so much work but our cost basis has become so high that we can’t compete on contracts.  We also need to outsource some of the work so we can develop business in emerging economies.

I’m not suggesting that the second set of bullets are the solution, only that if we seek to understand the other person’s point of view and focus on areas where we agree at the outset, it is much more likely we’d find solutions with which all parties can live.

The final post in this series will discuss how to increase employment of individuals who are differently-abled.

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