Getting Through To People
eBook - ePub

Getting Through To People

Jesse S. Nirenberg Ph.D.

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eBook - ePub

Getting Through To People

Jesse S. Nirenberg Ph.D.

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Über dieses Buch

If you think you can't reach all the people all the time - think again! Now you can persuade even the most stubborn or hostile audience to see your point of view with these proven techniques from Dr. Jesse S. Nirenberg. Through dozens of anecdotes, you'll learn how to control conversations with emotional people, how to hold other people's attention, and how to decode what people are really trying to tell you. And you'll discover how to reach the most shy and private people and make them want to open up to you. Getting Through to People invites you to join the over 300, 000 people using these powerful methods to break through the mental barriers that obstruct true person-to-person communication, and enhance your personal and business success.-Audio ed.

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1 – The Problem of Getting Through to People

Through words we try to touch each other’s minds. And yet, although words flow freely, it is curious how seldom and how fleetingly minds meet. What keeps us from getting through to each other? How can we pierce the barrier?
The problem stems from two sources: one is being human; and the other is forgetting that others are human, too. If we talked to a robot, there would be no difficulty in getting through. The robot would accept our ideas without question and put them into action. The robot has no pre-existing attitudes which might conflict with our ideas; no emotion to distract him; no secrets to be kept; and no ego to be fed.
Unlike machines, we have an active inner life. In our inner world, emotions press for expression; wishes conflict with each other; unconscious, and often false, conceptions of the world suggest courses of action and attitudes which are unrealistic, but which we think are rationally based. In this inner world there are problems to be solved. One part of us continually tugs at the intellect to solve these unconscious problems, while another part of us pulls the intellect in another direction, toward working out the realistic problems of everyday life.
These unconscious problems vary from person to person. Some examples might be: How do I make everybody approve of me? How can I become a good person? How can I keep from getting hurt, falling ill, or dying? How can I get all the pleasure I want? How can I get more power? The intellect is prodded by these pleas while trying to attend to such realistic matters as getting to work, doing the job, getting along with one’s mate, making and keeping friends, and rearing one’s children.
For example, in trying to discuss problems rationally, people often find their conversations becoming cluttered by self-glorifying references, indirect bids for reassurance, and hostile allusions. Unconscious needs are pulling them away from logical thinking and talking and may obscure the original purpose of the conversation.
Is it any wonder that straight thinking, clear communication, and a meeting of minds are not easily achieved?

Five Human Characteristics That Work Against A Meeting Of Minds

Let’s take a look at some human tendencies and how they interfere with a meeting of minds.
1. RESISTANCE TO CHANGE. We are all caught in a web of habit. But this web is quite comfortable and we are reluctant to give it up. The web feels safe, for we are both the spider and the fly.
Habit influences every thought, feeling, and action. While it governs such everyday things as the way we comb our hair, the way we like our eggs, which newspaper we read, and how neatly we dress, it also influences a tendency we might have to always ask somebody’s advice before making a decision; or to get very annoyed over little things that get in our way; or to worry too much; or to feel that people are selfish and can’t be trusted; or to think that we have to win every time.
Psychologists have found that just repeating an act doesn’t make it a habit. In addition to repeating it there must be some gain in doing it. We cling to certain ways of thinking, feeling, and acting, not because we have always done it that way but because it serves some purpose for us. For example, if we have little confidence in our own judgment, we may always ask someone’s advice before acting because it makes us feel more secure. We may feel that people are selfish because we want more from them than we have a right to expect. When we don’t get it we call them selfish because the unpleasant alternative is to face the fact that we are selfish in our demands.
Habits are often very difficult to give up because the benefits we think we gain are too important to us. The gain may be real or imaginary; but as long as we feel we gain, we cling to the habit. And the more we seem to gain the stronger is the habit.
Let’s listen in for a moment on a conversation between a company department head and a supervisor who works under him. Here we can see the supervisor’s attitude toward his subordinates operating as a fixed habit and blocking communication between himself and his boss.
DEPARTMENT HEAD: Tom, you’ve been doing a good job of supervising your unit but there’s something I’d like to talk to you about. Some of your men have been complaining that you’re always hopping on them whenever they make a mistake. But you never give them any credit for what they accomplish. You know a guy likes a pat on the back once in a while.
SUPERVISOR: Why don’t those guys grow up? What they want is a wet nurse. Well, I’m not going to baby them. I don’t believe in coddling men.
DEPARTMENT HEAD: Nobody’s asking you to coddle them. But a man likes to be told how well he is doing. It’s good for his morale and motivates him.
SUPERVISOR: When a man’s good he knows it. He doesn’t need to be told. Give these fellows a good word and the next thing you know they’ll ask for more money.
DEPARTMENT HEAD: How about that fellow, Bob Grant? I understand he’s doing fine, learning his job quickly and getting along well with the others. Do you ever give him a word of appreciation?
SUPERVISOR: Bob’s all right. But I’m not going to let him know about it; at least not yet. If I do, he’ll become too satisfied with himself and start slackening off. I know these guys. You’ve got to keep them guessing, make them feel they’re not doing well enough.
This supervisor is difficult to reach. He has a fixed attitude of distrust towards people. He is afraid that if he gives them any opportunity they will take advantage of him. He doesn’t consider each individual on his merits but has already made up his mind before he even meets a person. One can’t know why he feels this way without knowing him much better; but one possible explanation is that he feels that he, himself, can’t be trusted and therefore expects that other people would do the same thing as he would do in any given situation. Therefore, it’s safer not to trust. Let’s take a look at some other barriers to communication.
2. THE URGE TO THINK ONE’S OWN THOUGHTS RATHER THAN LISTEN. Whenever you talk to another person you are competing for his attention. Your listener isn’t wholly yours. His attention vacillates between what you are saying and what he is concerned about.
In order to hold his attention your talk has to matter more to him than anything else on his mind, whether it be his wife’s visit to the doctor that morning, his children not doing so well in school, his own golf game, his boss’s subtle hint that your listener might be in line for a step up soon, or the traffic ticket he shouldn’t have gotten the night before because the stop sign he passed was covered with dirt and practically illegible.
Your listener’s attention is fickle. It is drawn to anything that promises pleasure, excitement, or the solution of a problem. It scampers away from knotty problems and complex concepts. It is fragile and falls apart when stimulated by sudden sounds.
Often, when the individual is faced with difficult decisions that require a careful thinking through, attention drifts away into irrelevant by-paths; and it is pulled back only by the continual exercise of self-discipline. Even with that, attention drifts in and out of focus on a particular subject and the individual has little control over this.
You might try a little experiment for yourself. Pick any object in the room, for example, a lamp or a chair. Try concentrating on it, excluding all other thoughts. You will find that you cannot keep this up longer than about 5 or 10 seconds. Suddenly, you will find your field of attention filled with other images, and the lamp or chair will no longer be there. You bring it back to the lamp only to have it wander away in another few seconds.
If people’s attention drifts in and out like this, how is it that they are able to comprehend each other in conversation? If they miss words, how can they understand the total thoughts being conveyed? The answer is that language provides sufficient redundancy and repetition so that we do not need to hear everything. The words we do hear carry enough of the meaning to communicate the essential thought.
For this reason, deliberate repetition is often useful in conversation. It helps an individual to avoid losing his listener. To make the repetition interesting, put it in different words.
However, when complex ideas are tightly packed into few words rather than being enlarged upon, contact tends to be lost. When each word is depended on to carry so much meaning, missing a few words can break contact completely. The listener loses the speaker and cannot find him again because the missing words are the key to the meaning of what follows.

Three Signs of Wandering Attention

You can detect wandering attention in your listener by three signs.
(a) ASKING UNNECESSARY QUESTIONS. One indication is his asking of questions whose answers were contained in what you have just talked about. If he had grasped what you said his questions would have been unnecessary.
Grasping what you said means more than just hearing it. He might hear it to the extent that he could repeat it back. But he could do this without really thinking about it to the extent of placing it in a total picture in relationship to other facts. Grasping ideas, that is, listening meaningfully, requires more than just hearing the words. It calls for fitting the ideas that are being heard into a total picture.
Meaningful listening is somewhat like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Hearing the words is like receiving the pieces. But listening meaningfully is putting the pieces together to form a picture. When the listener asks questions that should have been unnecessary he has just been receiving the pieces but not putting them together.
(b) MAKING IRRELEVANT COMMENTS. Another indication of wandering attention is the making of irrelevant comments by the listener. Here the listener is not using the jigsaw pieces provided by the speaker to build the picture that the speaker has in mind. The listener is supplying his own pieces from a separate picture in his own mind.
These irrelevant comments indicate that the listener is strongly motivated not only to think about something else but also to talk about what he has in mind. This is more important to him than capturing the picture that the speaker is trying to communicate. The listener may need to show how clever he is by bringing in impressive ideas. And this need may be greater than his need to grasp what the speaker is saying. Or he may wish to improve on the concep...


  1. Title page
  3. Dedication
  4. 1 - The Problem of Getting Through to People
  5. 2 - Encouraging Cooperativeness
  6. 3 - Drawing Out People’s Thoughts
  7. 4 - Dealing with People’s Emotions
  8. 5 - Listening Between the Lines of Conversation
  9. 6 - Giving and Getting Feedback of Thinking
  10. 7 - Holding People’s Attention
  11. 8 - Activating Thinking
  12. 9 - Dealing with Resistance
  13. 10 - Measuring the Value of An Idea
  14. 11 - Giving and Taking in Conversation
  15. 12 - Getting Through to Groups
  16. 13 - Persuading
Zitierstile für Getting Through To People

APA 6 Citation

Ph.D., J. N. (2015). Getting Through To People ([edition unavailable]). Hauraki Publishing. Retrieved from (Original work published 2015)

Chicago Citation

Ph.D., Jesse Nirenberg. (2015) 2015. Getting Through To People. [Edition unavailable]. Hauraki Publishing.

Harvard Citation

Ph.D., J. N. (2015) Getting Through To People. [edition unavailable]. Hauraki Publishing. Available at: (Accessed: 15 October 2022).

MLA 7 Citation

Ph.D., Jesse Nirenberg. Getting Through To People. [edition unavailable]. Hauraki Publishing, 2015. Web. 15 Oct. 2022.