The mistake everyone should avoid in persuasion

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Hiring, Recruitment, Job Interview, Mentor, Agreement

There was once a man named Odin. Odin spent his time reading and learning about human psychology. Since he was never good at school, he was mostly a C+ plus student. Despite his wisdom and curiosity, he did not do well in classes.

Despite lacking formal education, Odin was extremely intelligent. He entered the workforce when he was just 15, after dropping out of school. Luckily, he was able to get a job working as the assistant of an animal trainer at a circus. 

His master would give him research projects for finding new ways to teach the animals and help them retain what they learned. Odin was the perfect man for the job because he loved trying new things and learning.

Odin started off by studying the training method used by his master. The strategy was simple, if animals failed to comply with the orders of the master, they were punished. Odin spotted the fundamental issue in the punishment, he thought criticizing only led to counterproductive results. 

That’s why he conducted an experiment to see if his theory was true, he placed two elephants in identical situations. Both of the animals were trained using the same methods and tools. Except in one of the scenarios, the elephant was rewarded for good behaviour and the other one was punished for bad behaviour. 

By simply rewarding the animal for good behaviour rather than punishing it for bad behaviour, he was able to help them learn more and increase the retention of what they learned. Rewards provided them with incentives and decreased resentment the animal felt. 

You may be asking, how is this going to help me, why is this important? Well, humans have a similar style of learning and retaining. Hens Selye once said “As much as we thirst for approval,  we dread condemnation”. We as humans are wired to resent criticism (i.e punishment). Therefore, a simple change to approach in teaching can cause massive differences. 

Authors Note

In this book, we examine Odin’s notebooks and learn how to win friends and influence people from him. We wish our readers don’t just simply read this story but also try to learn from Odin. 

Book: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (Purchase book on Amazon)


  • Humans resent criticism, when trying to teach humans or influence them do not start by criticizing. Remember when you’re dealing with humans you are dealing with creatures of emotion, not logic. 

One real life example of this strategy in use is the story of a safety coordinator. 

Once there was a safety coordinator that worked for an engineering company. One of his responsibilities was to make sure his employees were wearing their hard hats whenever they were in the field working. He reported that whenever he came across employees that did not, he would demand they do it immediately and state that they needed to comply with the regulations.

As a result, he would get a sullen acceptance, and often after he left the employees would remove the hats. He decided he would try another approach, whenever he spotted employees not wearing their hard hats he would ask if the hats were not comfortable or did not fit properly. Then he reminded the men in a pleasant tone of voice that the hat was designed to protect them from injury and suggested that it would always be worn on the job. The result was increased compliance with the regulation and no resentment or emotional upset. 

Just imagine how different history would be if Hitler was not criticized and insulted for his art… 

Notice: All of the entities and locations mentioned in this story are fictional.

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