Way of influencing on the hearts
Ayatullah al-`Uzma al-Hajj ash-Shaykh Nasir Makarim Shirazi
What we shall do for our advices to be influential on the heart of others?
One of the branches of social morality is the section that its objective or at least result is influencing on the others and attracting their confidence. This branch of social morality, which is actually very extensive and full of mental elegance, is particularly necessary for the "intellectual leaders" and "missioners". Otherwise they can never achieve their ideal educational objectives through their special reformative endeavours, and they may be defeated in their attempts.
It is frequently observed that virtuous and learned people have spent their life in seclusion for unfamiliarity with this part of social morality, and neither people have succeeded to enjoy their thoughts and sciences, nor they have achieved success in the society worthily.
In contrast, there are some people with low knowledge who have found positions higher than their real competence in the society as a result of familiarity with and observing these principles.
Not paying attention to these realities causes that sometimes they impute failure in the social attempts and endeavours to delusive factors such as chance and accidents, and in fact if we interpret chance as "familiarity with these principles", it will be closer to the reality.
Anyhow, some points are noteworthy herein:
1- Since man has an inseparable relation with the society, he should be aware of the correct principles for influencing on the others so that he can draw their attention for cooperation with himself as the final aim of social life.
Most people are the same in this part and even superior individuals of the society are not needless of it, and will face with great problems in case of not caring and observing such principles. But those who have undertaken the leadership of a small or great society in any way, feel need to this part more sensibly, and spiritual leaders and religious missioners who should penetrate into the angles and depth of spirit and soul of people, are more needy to it than the others.
Thus, we conclude that this part of social morality has completely a public aspect, not a classical one or special to a certain group.
2- The important issue, which is remarkable herein, is that if we suppose that the way of influencing on the thoughts of others is only through familiarity with strong and undeniable arguments in any subject and or analyzing advantages and disadvantages of the said affairs, we are strictly wrong. Because whatever the argument may be strong, it only deals with "conscious" part of man's spirit, while the major part of spirit is "unconscious" or "semiconscious" stage that influencing on them is not possible only through argument. 1
Even the argumentative methods will be often effective adequately if they are induced considering these principles. On the other hand, the required intimacy between a leader and individuals is never achieved through satiation of their intellect and thought. Rather, the leaders should mobilize their affections towards their own objectives to obtain necessary relation for leadership.
3- Using discussions for employing the others for our own personal interests and plundering their powers through penetration into their thought is certainly condemned as a clear sample of exploitation. But if it is performed for coordinating powers in the way of a high social objective and or reforming and educating an individual, it is appreciated as one of the primary conditions of a proper leadership.
4- First of all, for influencing the others, awareness and familiarity with the principles of psychology, psychoanalysis and entry to the angles of man's spirit in general, and the spirit of the person in question in particular are essential. Some people having particular talents are inherently familiar more or less with these principles, and some others have gradually become familiar with it due to need and experience. But a lot of people have to learn and apply these principles as a lesson.
5- It should not be misunderstood. Only familiarity with the ways of influencing and penetrating in the others is not sufficient. There are a lot of people who have sufficient awareness in this respect scientifically, but cannot employ them properly and appropriately. Employing these principles needs adequate exercise and readiness. That is to say they should be turned into a "moral habit" for having a satisfactory outcome.
6- It is well induced from studying biography of great divine prophets, specially Islam's Prophet (S) and the Imams of right guidance that they applied most of these principles for realization of their missionary and educative objectives, and they were good exemplars for this part of excellent social ethics.
Their attitude with people was so good that attracted them rapidly towards themselves and their high instructions. Some desire to assume a miraculous aspect for all of these affairs, while it is not correct. If we too follow their practice and procedure in encountering with the others, we can quickly influence on them and penetrate into the depth of their spirit.
Qur’an says about Islam's Prophet (S): Say: He is only a hearer. Say: A hearer of good for you… (9:61)
And somewhere else it says: It was by the mercy of Allah that thou wast lenient with them (O Muhammad), for if thou hadst been stern and fierce of heart they would have dispersed from round about thee.(3:159)
And again it says: There hath come unto you a messenger, (one) of yourselves, unto whom aught that ye are overburdened is grievous, full of concern for you, for the believers full of pity, merciful. (9:128)
If God will, we will later see that being "ear" (credulous), that is respecting the speeches of others and not expressing mistrust on them unduly, and also showing mildness, amenity, kindness and sympathy to the others, and assuming their problems as one's own problems, has a profound effect in influencing on the thoughts of others.
As we read in the biography of Prophet (S): "He always preceded in saying Salam (hello), and if someone detained him for a work, he waited until he was given up, and when someone shook hands with him, he did not leave him until the other party took action for disporting, he called even the children with their nicknames (the best names with Arabs), and he never sat among his companions so that he would have an excellence over the others ..."2
The effect of each of these moral affairs in impressing upon the others will be clarified in the next discussions.
7- It goes without saying that in this discussion, like all social and objective discussions, one shall never utilize improper means and ways for achieving to the goal that is influencing on the others. Therefore, only the way which is correct by itself, and also utilized for achievement to a correct purpose should be presented.
Shall we be fact seeking or aggressive?
Why we do not succeed in our discussions: We have frequently found following affairs when discussing with the others:
1- We have seen many times that after hours of talks, we have failed to achieve any success in the progress of negotiations, while we believe that the matter is completely clear and acceptable, but the other party refrains to accept it.
2- It is often seen that the other party has become more firm and bigoted in his belief after long discussions.
3- It is mostly seen that after a long discussion, we do not feel any more the previous sincerity and purity in our heart towards the other party and feel an unreasonable hatred and spite towards him!
4- The history of religious discussions, quarrels and political doctrines shows that abundant powers used for proving a belief or a doctrine as well as the numerous books prepared with a plenty of difficulties and costs have not been so useful.
5- It is often observed that scientific negotiations which are started in an earnest setting, have been led to quarrels and sometimes grappling and or mayhem of individuals, while apparently there is no relation between "mayhem" and "scientific discussion" and never one of them could be proved by the other.
6- We have repeatedly seen that the other party has no reply against our strong logic and has become silent. However, he has not accepted the matter and does not submit to it and or hate it!
These are the realities that most of those who are engaged in scientific, social, political and such like discussions, have more or less experienced in the experiments and events of life and are very noteworthy.
Why it is so? Since these discussions are not made with the purpose of seeking facts. Rather, they have been made for dominance and victory over the adversary, and there is a big difference between them, although they are apparently the same.
The purpose of investigation and fact seeking is granting to someone what he lacks, without excluding him from anything, that is to say teaching him, without ruining his personality. But, the purpose of seemingly logical disputes and quarrels is depriving the other party from honour, pride and personality and hurting his affections against training what in his view or actually may not be so important and interesting.
Therefore, it is not surprising if he resists against it and hates it. So the psychologists say:
1- It is possible to suppress someone through dispute and quarrel, but we will never acquire his sincere approval.
2- It is impossible to convince an ignorant with the power of logic and quarrel.
3- The best means for victory in discussion is avoiding it. Basically, the discussions, which are changed into struggle, offence or defence and in other words, "controversy", less happen to leave a considerable effect in attracting inward approval of individuals, and resistance of the other party indicates that he assumes his dignity and status in danger. Otherwise, negative resistance for teaching a matter to someone is senseless.
The discussions which agitate the other party and cause him to resist, may have been performed in one of the following ways:
1- The discussions mixed with humiliation of the other party or his beliefs, for instance when it is said your opinion is not logical at all; it is not wisely; no one agrees with it; this utterance is not expected or is strange to be expressed by you!
2- The discussions which are made in presence of a third person, the other party does not like to be defeated in his presence (most people are so).
3- When the discussion is made in a teaching mode, while the other party is not considered as his student, and or at least he does not accept this status for himself.
4- The discussion in which victory is the sign of excellence and priority of the speaker and ruins the "excellence seeking" spirit of the other party.
5- The discussion, the purpose of which is proscription of some deeds of the other party or one of his relatives and friends and or his beloved persons in the past or present.
6- The discussion which has become the substructure of his thoughts as a result of suggestion of surroundings or parents and such like.
In all of above cases, ordinary controversial methods should not be used for influencing on the mind and spirit of the other party. Rather, the applied methods should be absolutely apart from dispute.
1. The psychologists have assumed three stages for man's mind: 1- Conscious stage: referring to a stage in mind which deals with logical and intellectual arguments and deductions as well as the result of observations and experiences, and the relations of matters therein are exactly clear for man, and in other words, consciousness is the dominion of intellect. 2- Semiconscious: it is the same area of ambiguous and irregular thoughts and information which originates from instincts, affections and complexes, and in other words, semiconscious is the scene of emotions, tendencies and thoughts appearing from the instincts like self love and such like, and ambiguity is one of the its properties. 3- Unconscious: This is the same dark and forgotten area of mind that in normal conditions man is unaware of its contents. All the tendencies, which are not fulfilled for any reason, and are rejected from conscious stage, are focused in this part. Moreover, the forgotten memories, which may sometimes be remembered and or never be remembered due to their negative relation with one of the tendencies, are all concentrated in this part.
2. Extracted from Ehyaol Oloum, 365/2 to 367