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Home The Light Articles from 2000 Learning to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

Learning to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

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Learning to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

by Raymond Stiner

Evangelism, or trying to convert people to the truth, involves the principles of our title. Before you can convert someone, you have to have a "way of thinking." In other words, you have to have a doctrine to which you are trying to lead men. If you have the truth, the only way you can get people to see the truth is to think about it the way that you do. And there is an art to this that I would like to share with you. Many of the points that I shall make are Biblically based but come from a study I took a few years back in the Dale Carnegie course of public speaking. The course was directed toward managers needing to get their fellow workers to do things the way the company wanted them done. This principle applies very ably to the realm of religion.

1. You Can’t Win an Argument!!!

The very first thing we learned was that you can’t win an argument. The only way you can get the best of an argument is to avoid it. Nine times out of ten, an argument ends up with each of the contestants more firmly convinced than ever that he or she is absolutely right.

You cannot win in an argument, because if you lose, you lose it; and if you win you have lost it. Why is that you say? Well suppose you triumph over the other person and you shoot his argument full of holes and prove that he is an idiot to take the stand that he does, then what? You have made him feel inferior. You have hurt his pride, and he will resent your triumph and still will not accept what you present. This is not right but this is the way human nature is. And so in the end you really have not won but have lost because you have not gained a friend. Remember "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."

Thus, if you argue and rankle and contradict, you may achieve a victory sometimes, but it will be an empty victory because you will never have your opponent’s good will. So if in your discussions it appears that you are headed for an argument it is better to stop and give it some time and pick it up again when tempers have subsided. It is better to have the good will of our opponent than to have the victory of winning an argument.

2. Bits and Pieces

From an article entitled Bits and Pieces there were some very good suggestions offered on how to keep a disagreement from getting into an argument. Here are some of the points made :

A. Welcome the Disagreement

There is a slogan that goes something like this; "When two partners always agree, one of them is not necessary." This certainly does not apply to every partnership but I think just here it is very applicable. There may be some point that you have not thought about or overlooked that would affect your spirituality. Be thankful that it has been brought to your attention. Perhaps this disagreement is an opportunity for you to be corrected and stand right with God, or it is chance for you to help someone be corrected.

B. Distrust Your First Instinctive Impression

Our first natural reaction in a disagreeable situation is to be defensive. Be careful. Keep calm and watch out for your first reaction. It may be that you are at your worst and not your best. Listen to the wisdom of the apostle in Eph. 4:26-32, "Be ye angry and sin not; let not the sun go down upon your wrath; neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole steal no more; but rather let him labour working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not that holy spirit of God whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor and evil speaking , be put away from you with all malice: and be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you."

C. Listen First

Give your opponent a chance to talk and let them finish. Do not resist, defend or debate. This only raises barriers. Try to build bridges of understanding by letting your opponent know that you are truly interested in what he has to say.

D. Look for Areas of Agreement

When you have heard your opponent out, dwell first on the points and areas where you both agree.

E. Be Honest

Look for areas where you can admit error, and say so. Apologize for your mistakes. It will help disarm your opponent and reduce defensiveness

F. Promise to Think Over Your Opponent’s Ideas and Study Them Carefully

And mean that you will do this. If your opponent believes in something that is not based on God’s Word, you will find that out in your study. But this evidence must come from the truths of Gods word and not your traditions or opinions.

G. Thank Your Opponent Sincerely for His Interest

Anyone who takes the time to disagree with you is interested in the same things you are. Think of them as people who want to help you even as you want to help them. With these types of attitudes you may turn your opponent into a friend and then it will be easier to convince them of the truth.

H. Postpone Action to Give Both Sides Time to Think Through the Problem

Suggest a new meeting to be held later that day or real soon, when all of the facts can be brought to the table and a clear study be made. Opera tenor Jan Peerce, after he was married nearly fifty years once said: "My wife and I made a pact a long time ago, and we’ve kept it no matter how angry we’ve grown with each other. When one yells the other should listen —because when two people yell, there is no communication, just noise and bad vibrations."

3. Show Respect for the Other Person’s Opinion. Never Say "You Are Wrong."

You can tell people that they are wrong by a look or a gesture just as eloquently as you can in words. And if up front the first words out of your mouth are that they are wrong, do you make them want to agree with you? Never! For you have struck a blow at their intelligence, judgment, pride, and self-respect.

Never begin by saying: "I’m here to prove such-and-such to you." That’s equal to saying: "I’m smarter than you are and I’m going to tell you a few things and make you change your mind." It is difficult under the best of situations to get people to change their mind. Why make it more difficult with an attitude like this? If you are going to prove anything, don’t let anyone know it. Use enough wisdom and respect for your opponent that he comes to the conclusion of truth on his own. Listen to what these wise men had to say:

Alexander Pope –"Men must be taught as if you taught them not and things unknown proposed as things forgot. "

Galileo–"You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself."

Lord Chesterfield–"Be wiser than other people if you can but do not tell them so."

Socrates–"One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing."

If a person makes a statement that you think is wrong (in fact you know is wrong) isn’t it better to begin by saying: "Well now I think otherwise, but I may be wrong. I frequently am and if I’m wrong I want to be put right. Lets examine the facts here and see why we disagree." You can’t go wrong with an opening statement like that.

4. Be Friendly

"If a mans heart is rankling with discord and ill feeling toward you, you can’t win him to your way of thinking with all the logic of Christendom. Scolding parents and domineering bosses and husbands and nagging wives ought to realize that people have a hard time changing their minds. They can’t be forced or driven to agree with you and me. But they may possibly be led to if you are gentle and friendly, ever so gentle and ever so friendly." –Dale Carnegie.

"It is an old and true maxim that a drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall." So with men, if you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart; which, say what you will, is the great high road to his reason." –Abraham Lincoln

"The sun can make you take your coat off more quickly than the wind; and kindliness and the friendly approach and appreciation can make people change their minds more readily than all the bluster and storming in the world." –Aesop

Get the Other Person Saying "Yes" Immediately

In talking with people don’t begin by discussing the things on which you differ. Begin by emphasizing and keep on emphasizing the things on which you agree. The psychological patterns here are quite clear. When a person says "No" and really means it, he or she is doing far more than saying a word of two letters. The entire organism–glandular, nervous, and muscular–gathers itself together into a condition of rejection. There is a physical withdrawal or readiness for withdrawal. But to the contrary when a person says "Yes," none of the withdrawal activities take place. The organism is in an accepting, open attitude. Hence the more "Yeses" we can at the very outset induce, the more likely we are to succeed in capturing the attention of that person for our ultimate proposal.

Let the Other Person Feel That the Idea Is His or Hers

Don’t you have much more faith in ideas that you discover for yourself than in ideas that are handed to you on a silver platter? If so, isn’t it bad judgment to ram you opinions down the throats of other people? Isn’t it wise to make suggestions, and let the other person think out the conclusion?

"The reason why rivers and seas receive the homage of a hundred mountain streams is that they keep below them. Thus they are able to reign over all the mountain streams. So the sage, wishing to be above men, putteth himself below them; wishing to be before them, he putteth himself behind them. Thus, though his place be above men, they do not feel his weight though his place be before them they do not count it an injury."– Lao-Tse (a Chinese sage)

Be Sympathetic with the Other Person’s Position

There are many reasons why someone would believe something different than you or why someone has fallen from the grace of God. And if you have not experienced the same problem you might not understand what the person is going through. This does not alter the Word of God but it may enable you to have a little more compassion for the person you are dealing with. Three fourths of the people you will ever meet are hungering and thirsting for sympathy. Give it to them and they will love you for it and will open up their hearts to you.

Arouse in the Other Person an Eager Want

"First Arouse in the other person an eager want. He who can do this has the whole world with him. He who cannot walks a lonely way." –Professor Overstreet.

People have to see something in us that they would want to be. This then produces the idea that we have to be living up to what we preach and also be enthusiastic and leave the impression that there is nothing greater in our lives than God and His Word. There is no use in you trying to convert someone to something that you are not converted to yourself.

These principles I have shared with you need to be applied to your evangelistic efforts with wisdom. We all have people that we can reach out to and we need to have a plan. I hope that these things can be a part of your plan. –Box 4, LeContes, Mills, PA 16850

 

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