If we want to be an influence in a person’s life, do we need to talk about what they want and show them how to get it? Is every act you have ever performed all about getting what you want? Let’s say you made a large contribution to your favorite charity. You gave the donation because you wanted to lend a helping hand. You wanted to do an unselfish act. Matthew 25:40 is running in your head, “…Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did to the least of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” If you hadn’t wanted that feeling more than you wanted your money, you would not have made the contribution.
Harry A. Overstreet, in his book Influencing Human Behavior, … said: “Action springs out of what we fundamentally desire…and the best piece of advice which can be given to would-be persuaders, whether in business, in the home, in the school, in politics, is: 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.”
Henry Ford said the key to human relationships 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.” The world is full of people who are grabbing and self-seeking. It is rare to find a person who unselfishly tries to serve others. This is largely the reason why we find it so difficult to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and be like Him.
If we develop an increased tendency to think always in terms of the other person’s point of view, and see things from their angle, it will be the foundation for resolving all conflict and the basis for arousing in them an eager want for something. This is not to be construed as manipulating that person so that they will do something that is only for your benefit and to their detriment. Each person should gain from the exchange.
One of our moms could not get her three-year-old to eat breakfast cereal. No amount of pleading, scolding, or coaxing had any effect. The mom was at her wits’ end trying to think of a way to make her daughter eat breakfast. The little girl loved to imitate her mom and to feel big and grown-up. One morning the mom put her on a chair in front of the kitchen counter and let her make the breakfast by pouring cereal and milk in the bowl. She said, “Mommy, I am making breakfast just like you!” She proceeded to sit down at the table and eat two bowls of cereal without any coaxing. She had achieved a feeling of importance; she had found in making the breakfast an avenue of self-expression.
Self-expression is such a dominant necessity of human nature. When we have an idea, instead of making others think it is ours, why not let them think on it, and mull it over in their minds, until they make it their own? Maybe they will like it, and maybe eat two bowls of it. When has someone aroused in you an enthusiasm to try something new?