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.
Remember, there is no other way.
Of course, you can make someone want to give you his watch by
sticking a revolver in his ribs. YOU can make your employees give
you cooperation - until your back is turned - by threatening to fire
them. You can make a child do what you want it to do by a whip or a
threat. But these crude methods have sharply undesirable
The only way I can get you to do anything is by giving you what you
What do you want?
Sigmund Freud said that everything you and I do springs from two
motives: the sex urge and the desire to be great.
John Dewey, one of America's most profound philosophers, phrased
it a bit differently. Dr. Dewey said that the deepest urge in human
nature is "the desire to be important." Remember that phrase: "the
desire to be important." It is significant. You are going to hear a lot
about it in this book.
What do you want? Not many things, but the few that you do wish,
you crave with an insistence that will not be denied. Some of the
things most people want include:
1. Health and the preservation of life. 2. Food. 3. Sleep. 4. Money
and the things money will buy. 5. Life in the hereafter. 6. Sexual
gratification. 7. The well-being of our children. 8. A feeling of
Almost all these wants are usually gratified-all except one. But there
is one longing - almost as deep, almost as imperious, as the desire
for food or sleep - which is seldom gratified. It is what Freud calls
"the desire to be great." It is what Dewey calls the "desire to be
Lincoln once began a letter saying: "Everybody likes a compliment."
William James said: "The deepest principle in human nature is the
craving to be appreciated." He didn't speak, mind you, of the "wish"
or the "desire" or the "longing" to be appreciated. He said the
"craving" to be appreciated.
Here is a gnawing and unfaltering human hunger, and the rare
individual who honestly satisfies this heart hunger will hold people in
the palm of his or her hand and "even the undertaker will be sorry
when he dies."
The desire for a feeling of importance is one of the chief
distinguishing differences between mankind and the animals. To
illustrate: When I was a farm boy out in Missouri, my father bred fine
Duroc-Jersey hogs and . pedigreed white - faced cattle. We used to
exhibit our hogs and white-faced cattle at the country fairs and livestock
shows throughout the Middle West. We won first prizes by the
score. My father pinned his blue ribbons on a sheet of white muslin,
and when friends or visitors came to the house, he would get out the
long sheet of muslin. He would hold one end and I would hold the
other while he exhibited the blue ribbons.
The hogs didn't care about the ribbons they had won. But Father did.
These prizes gave him a feeling of importance.
If our ancestors hadn't had this flaming urge for a feeling of
importance, civilization would have been impossible. Without it, we
should have been just about like animals.
It was this desire for a feeling of importance that led an uneducated,
poverty-stricken grocery clerk to study some law books he found in
the bottom of a barrel of household plunder that he had bought for
fifty cents. You have probably heard of this grocery clerk. His name
It was this desire for a feeling of importance that inspired Dickens to
write his immortal novels. This desire inspired Sir Christoper Wren to
design his symphonies in stone. This desire made Rockefeller amass
millions that he never spent! And this same desire made the richest
family in your town build a house far too large for its requirements.
This desire makes you want to wear the latest styles, drive the latest
cars, and talk about your brilliant children.
It is this desire that lures many boys and girls into joining gangs and
engaging in criminal activities. The average young criminal,
according to E. P. Mulrooney, onetime police commissioner of New
York, is filled with ego, and his first request after arrest is for those
lurid newspapers that make him out a hero. The disagreeable
prospect of serving time seems remote so long as he can gloat over
his likeness sharing space with pictures of sports figures, movie and
TV stars and politicians.
If you tell me how you get your feeling of importance, I'll tell you
what you are. That determines your character. That is the most
significant thing about you. For example, John D. Rockefeller got his
feeling of importance by giving money to erect a modern hospital in
Peking, China, to care for millions of poor people whom he had never
seen and never would see. Dillinger, on the other hand, got his
feeling of importance by being a bandit, a bank robber and killer.
When the FBI agents were hunting him, he dashed into a farmhouse
up in Minnesota and said, "I'm Dillinger!" He was proud of the fact
that he was Public Enemy Number One. "I'm not going to hurt you,
but I'm Dillinger!" he said.
Yes, the one significant difference between Dillinger and Rockefeller
is how they got their feeling of importance.
History sparkles with amusing examples of famous people struggling
for a feeling of importance. Even George Washington wanted to be
called "His Mightiness, the President of the United States"; and
Columbus pleaded for the title "Admiral of the Ocean and Viceroy of
India." Catherine the Great refused to open letters that were not
addressed to "Her Imperial Majesty"; and Mrs. Lincoln, in the White
House, turned upon Mrs. Grant like a tigress and shouted, "How dare
you be seated in my presence until I invite you!"
Our millionaires helped finance Admiral Byrd's expedition to the
Antarctic in 1928 with the understanding that ranges of icy
mountains would be named after them; and Victor Hugo aspired to
have nothing less than the city of Paris renamed in his honor. Even
Shakespeare, mightiest of the mighty, tried to add luster to his name
by procuring a coat of arms for his family.
People sometimes became invalids in order to win sympathy and
attention, and get a feeling of importance. For example, take Mrs.
McKinley. She got a feeling of importance by forcing her husband,
the President of the United States, to neglect important affairs of
state while he reclined on the bed beside her for hours at a time, his
arm about her, soothing her to sleep. She fed her gnawing desire for
attention by insisting that he remain with her while she was having
her teeth fixed, and once created a stormy scene when he had to
leave her alone with the dentist while he kept an appointment with
John Hay, his secretary of state.
The writer Mary Roberts Rinehart once told me of a bright, vigorous
young woman who became an invalid in order to get a feeling of
importance. "One day," said Mrs. Rinehart, "this woman had been
obliged to face something, her age perhaps. The lonely years were
stretching ahead and there was little left for her to anticipate.
"She took to her bed; and for ten years her old mother traveled to
the third floor and back, carrying trays, nursing her. Then one day
the old mother, weary with service, lay down and died. For some
weeks, the invalid languished; then she got up, put on her clothing,
and resumed living again."
Some authorities declare that people may actually go insane in order
to find, in the dreamland of insanity, the feeling of importance that
has been denied them in the harsh world of reality. There are more
patients suffering from mental diseases in the United States than
from all other diseases combined.
What is the cause of insanity?
Nobody can answer such a sweeping question, but we know that
certain diseases, such as syphilis, break down and destroy the brain
cells and result in insanity. In fact, about one-half of all mental
diseases can be attributed to such physical causes as brain lesions,
alcohol, toxins and injuries. But the other half - and this is the
appalling part of the story - the other half of the people who go
insane apparently have nothing organically wrong with their brain
cells. In post-mortem examinations, when their brain tissues are
studied under the highest-powered microscopes, these tissues are
found to be apparently just as healthy as yours and mine.
Why do these people go insane?
I put that question to the head physician of one of our most
important psychiatric hospitals. This doctor, who has received the
highest honors and the most coveted awards for his knowledge of
this subject, told me frankly that he didn't know why people went
insane. Nobody knows for sure But he did say that many people who
go insane find in insanity a feeling of importance that they were
unable to achieve in the world of reality. Then he told me this story:
"I have a patient right now whose marriage proved to be a tragedy.
She wanted love, sexual gratification, children and social prestige,
but life blasted all her hopes. Her husband didn't love her. He
refused even to eat with her and forced her to serve his meals in his
room upstairs. She had no children, no social standing. She went
insane; and, in her imagination, she divorced her husband and
resumed her maiden name. She now believes she has married into
English aristocracy, and she insists on being called Lady Smith.
"And as for children, she imagines now that she has had a new child
every night. Each time I call on her she says: 'Doctor, I had a baby
last night.' "
Life once wrecked all her dream ships on the sharp rocks of reality;
but in the sunny, fantasy isles of insanity, all her barkentines race
into port with canvas billowing and winds singing through the masts.
" Tragic? Oh, I don't know. Her physician said to me: If I could
stretch out my hand and restore her sanity, I wouldn't do it. She's
much happier as she is."
If some people are so hungry for a feeling of importance that they
actually go insane to get it, imagine what miracle you and I can
achieve by giving people honest appreciation this side of insanity.
One of the first people in American business to be paid a salary of
over a million dollars a year (when there was no income tax and a
person earning fifty dollars a week was considered well off) was
Charles Schwab, He had been picked by Andrew Carnegie to become
the first president of the newly formed United States Steel Company
in 1921, when Schwab was only thirty-eight years old. (Schwab later
left U.S. Steel to take over the then-troubled Bethlehem Steel
Company, and he rebuilt it into one of the most profitable companies
Why did Andrew Carnegie pay a million dollars a year, or more than
three thousand dollars a day, to Charles Schwab? Why? Because
Schwab was a genius? No. Because he knew more about the
manufacture of steel than other people? Nonsense. Charles Schwab
told me himself that he had many men working for him who knew
more about the manufacture of steel than he did.
Schwab says that he was paid this salary largely because of his
ability to deal with people. I asked him how he did it. Here is his
secret set down in his own words - words that ought to be cast in
eternal bronze and hung in every home and school, every shop and
office in the land - words that children ought to memorize instead of
wasting their time memorizing the conjugation of Latin verbs or the
amount of the annual rainfall in Brazil - words that will all but
transform your life and mine if we will only live them:
"I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people," said
Schwab, "the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the
best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.
"There is nothing else that so kills the ambitions of a person as
criticisms from superiors. I never criticize any-one. I believe in giving
a person incentive to work. So I am anxious to praise but loath to
find fault. If I like anything, I am hearty in my approbation and lavish
in my praise. "
That is what Schwab did. But what do average people do? The exact
opposite. If they don't like a thing, they bawl out their subordinates;
if they do like it, they say nothing. As the old couplet says: "Once I
did bad and that I heard ever/Twice I did good, but that I heard
"In my wide association in life, meeting with many and great people
in various parts of the world," Schwab declared, "I have yet to find
the person, however great or exalted his station, who did not do
better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval
than he would ever do under a spirit of criticism."
That he said, frankly, was one of the outstanding reasons for the
phenomenal success of Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie praised his
associates publicly as well as pr-vately.
Carnegie wanted to praise his assistants even on his tombstone. He
wrote an epitaph for himself which read: "Here lies one who knew
how to get around him men who were cleverer than himself:"
Sincere appreciation was one of the secrets of the first John D.
Rockefeller's success in handling men. For example, when one of his
partners, Edward T. Bedford, lost a million dollars for the firm by a
bad buy in South America, John D. might have criticized; but he
knew Bedford had done his best - and the incident was closed. So
Rockefeller found something to praise; he congratulated Bedford
because he had been able to save 60 percent of the money he had
invested. "That's splendid," said Rockefeller. "We don't always do as
well as that upstairs."
I have among my clippings a story that I know never happened, but
it illustrates a truth, so I'll repeat it:
According to this silly story, a farm woman, at the end of a heavy
day's work, set before her menfolks a heaping pile of hay. And when
they indignantly demanded whether she had gone crazy, she replied:
"Why, how did I know you'd notice? I've been cooking for you men
for the last twenty years and in all that time I ain't heard no word to
let me know you wasn't just eating hay."
When a study was made a few years ago on runaway wives, what do
you think was discovered to be the main reason wives ran away? It
was "lack of appreciation." And I'd bet that a similar study made of
runaway husbands would come out the same way. We often take our
spouses so much for granted that we never let them know we
A member of one of our classes told of a request made by his wife.
She and a group of other women in her church were involved in a
self-improvement program. She asked her husband to help her by
listing six things he believed she could do to help her become a
better wife. He reported to the class: "I was surprised by such a
request. Frankly, it would have been easy for me to list six things I
would like to change about her - my heavens, she could have listed a
thousand things she would like to change about me - but I didn't. I
said to her, 'Let me think about it and give you an answer in the
"The next morning I got up very early and called the florist and had
them send six red roses to my wife with a note saying: 'I can't think
of six things I would like to change about you. I love you the way
"When I arrived at home that evening, who do you think greeted me
at the door: That's right. My wife! She was almost in tears. Needless
to say, I was extremely glad I had not criticized her as she had
"The following Sunday at church, after she had reported the results
of her assignment, several women with whom she had been studying
came up to me and said, 'That was the most considerate thing I
have ever heard.' It was then I realized the power of appreciation."
Florenz Ziegfeld, the most spectacular producer who ever dazzled
Broadway, gained his reputation by his subtle ability to "glorify the
American girl." Time after time, he took drab little creatures that no
one ever looked at twice and transformed them on the stage into
glamorous visions of mystery and seduction. Knowing the value of
appreciation and confidence, he made women feel beautiful by the
sheer power of his gallantry and consideration. He was practical: he
raised the salary of chorus girls from thirty dollars a week to as high
as one hundred and seventy-five. And he was also chivalrous; on
opening night at the Follies, he sent telegrams to the stars in the
cast, and he deluged every chorus girl in the show with American
I once succumbed to the fad of fasting and went for six days and
nights without eating. It wasn't difficult. I was less hungry at the end
of the sixth day than I was at the end of the second. Yet I know, as
you know, people who would think they had committed a crime if
they let their families or employees go for six days without food; but
they will let them go for six days, and six weeks, and sometimes
sixty years without giving them the hearty appreciation that they
crave almost as much as they crave food.
When Alfred Lunt, one of the great actors of his time, played the
leading role in Reunion in Vienna, he said, "There is nothing I need
so much as nourishment for my self-esteem."
We nourish the bodies of our children and friends and employees,
but how seldom do we nourish their selfesteem? We provide them
with roast beef and potatoes to build energy, but we neglect to give
them kind words of appreciation that would sing in their memories
for years like the music of the morning stars.
Paul Harvey, in one of his radio broadcasts, "The Rest of the Story,"
told how showing sincere appreciation can change a person's life. He
reported that years ago a teacher in Detroit asked Stevie Morris to
help her find a mouse that was lost in the classroom. You see, she
appreciated the fact that nature had given Stevie something no one
else in the room had. Nature had given Stevie a remarkable pair of
ears to compensate for his blind eyes. But this was really the first
time Stevie had been shown appreciation for those talented ears.
Now, years later, he says that this act of appreciation was the
beginning of a new life. You see, from that time on he developed his
gift of hearing and went on to become, under the stage name of
Stevie Wonder, one of the great pop singers and and songwriters of
* Paul Aurandt, Paul Harvey's The Rest of the Story (New York:
Doubleday, 1977). Edited and compiled by Lynne Harvey. Copyright
(c) by Paulynne, Inc.
Some readers are saying right now as they read these lines: "Oh,
phooey! Flattery! Bear oil! I've tried that stuff. It doesn't work - not
with intelligent people."
Of course flattery seldom works with discerning people. It is shallow,
selfish and insincere. It ought to fail and it usually does. True, some
people are so hungry, so thirsty, for appreciation that they will
swallow anything, just as a starving man will eat grass and
Even Queen Victoria was susceptible to flattery. Prime Minister
Benjamin Disraeli confessed that he put it on thick in dealing with
the Queen. To use his exact words, he said he "spread it on with a
trowel." But Disraeli was one of the most polished, deft and adroit
men who ever ruled the far-flung British Empire. He was a genius in
his line. What would work for him wouldn't necessarily work for you
and me. In the long run, flattery will do you more harm than good.
Flattery is counterfeit, and like counterfeit money, it will eventually
get you into trouble if you pass it to someone else.
The difference between appreciation and flattery? That is simple.
One is sincere and the other insincere. One comes from the heart
out; the other from the teeth out. One is unselfish; the other selfish.
One is universally admired; the other universally condemned.
I recently saw a bust of Mexican hero General Alvaro Obregon in the
Chapultepec palace in Mexico City. Below the bust are carved these
wise words from General Obregon's philosophy: "Don't be afraid of
enemies who attack you. Be afraid of the friends who flatter you."
No! No! No! I am not suggesting flattery! Far from it. I'm talking
about a new way of life. Let me repeat. I am talking about a new
way of life.
King George V had a set of six maxims displayed on the walls of his
study at Buckingham Palace. One of these maxims said: "Teach me
neither to proffer nor receive cheap praise." That's all flattery is -
cheap praise. I once read a definition of flattery that may be worth
repeating: "Flattery is telling the other person precisely what he
thinks about himself."
"Use what language you will," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, "you can
never say anything but what you are ."
If all we had to do was flatter, everybody would catch on and we
should all be experts in human relations.
When we are not engaged in thinking about some definite problem,
we usually spend about 95 percent of our time thinking about
ourselves. Now, if we stop thinking about ourselves for a while and
begin to think of the other person's good points, we won't have to
resort to flattery so cheap and false that it can be spotted almost
before it is out of the mouth,
One of the most neglected virtues of our daily existence is
appreciation, Somehow, we neglect to praise our son or daughter
when he or she brings home a good report card, and we fail to
encourage our children when they first succeed in baking a cake or
building a birdhouse.
Nothing pleases children more than this kind of parental interest and
The next time you enjoy filet mignon at the club, send word to the
chef that it was excellently prepared, and when a tired salesperson
shows you unusual courtesy, please mention it.
Every minister, lecturer and public speaker knows the
discouragement of pouring himself or herself out to an audience and
not receiving a single ripple of appreciative comment. What applies
to professionals applies doubly to workers in offices, shops and
factories and our families and friends. In our interpersonal relations
we should never forget that all our associates are human beings and
hunger for appreciation. It is the legal tender that all souls enjoy.
Try leaving a friendly trail of little sparks of gratitude on your daily
trips. You will be surprised how they will set small flames of
friendship that will be rose beacons on your next visit.
Pamela Dunham of New Fairfield, Connecticut, had among her
responsibilities on her job the supervision of a janitor who was doing
a very poor job. The other employees would jeer at him and litter the
hallways to show him what a bad job he was doing. It was so bad,
productive time was being lost in the shop.
Without success, Pam tried various ways to motivate this person.
She noticed that occasionally he did a particularly good piece of
work. She made a point to praise him for it in front of the other
people. Each day the job he did all around got better, and pretty
soon he started doing all his work efficiently. Now he does an
excellent job and other people give him appreciation and recognition.
Honest appreciation got results where criticism and ridicule failed.
Hurting people not only does not change them, it is never called for.
There is an old saying that I have cut out and pasted on my mirror
where I cannot help but see it every day:
I shall pass this way but once; any good, therefore, that I can do or
any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now.
Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
Emerson said: "Every man I meet is my superior in some way, In
that, I learn of him."
If that was true of Emerson, isn't it likely to be a thousand times
more true of you and me? Let's cease thinking of our
accomplishments, our wants. Let's try to figure out the other
person's good points. Then forget flattery. Give honest, sincere
appreciation. Be "hearty in your approbation and lavish in your
praise," and people will cherish your words and treasure them and
repeat them over a lifetime - repeat them years after you have