If we want a friend to read a book, to go a journey, or to do something which is more important for his own good than either, and we know that to suggest our desire would be to rouse his resistance, the only way is to catch him in the best mood we can, say what we have to say, give our own preference, and at the same time feel and express a willingness to be refused. Every man is a free agent, and we have no right not to respect his freedom, even if he uses that freedom to stand in his own light or in ours. If he is standing in our light and refuses to move, we can move out of his shadow, even though we may have to give up our most cherished desire in order to do so.
If he is standing in his own light, and refuses to move, we can suggest or advise and do whatever in us lies to make the common sense of our opinion clear; but if he still persists in standing in his own light, it is his business, not ours.
It requires the cultivation of a strong will to put a request before a friend which we know will be resisted, and to yield to that resistance so that it meets no antagonism in us. But when it is done, and done thoroughly, consistently, and intelligently, the other man’s resistance reacts back upon himself, and he finds himself out as he never could in any other way. Having found himself out, unless his mulishness is almost past sanity, he begins to reject his habit of resistance of his own accord.
In dealing with the contrary minded, the “contrary method” works so long as it is not discovered; and the danger of its being discovered is always imminent. The upright, direct method is according to the honorable laws of human intercourse, and brings always better results in the end, even though there may be some immediate failures in the process.
To adjust ourselves rightly to another nature and go with it to a good end, along the lines of least resistance, is of course the best means of a real acquaintance, but to allow ourselves to manage a fellow-being is an indignity to the man and worse than an indignity to the mind who is willing to do the managing.
Our humanity is in our freedom. Our freedom is in our humanity. When one, man tries to manage another, he is putting that other in the attitude of a beast. The man who is allowing himself to be managed is classing himself with the beasts.
Although this is a fact so evident on the base of it that it needs neither explanation nor enlargement, there is hardly a day passes that some one does not say to some one, “You cannot manage me in that way,” and the answer should be, “Why should you want to be managed in any way; and why should I want to insult you by trying to manage you at all?”
The girl and her father might have been intelligent friends by this time, if the practice of the “contrary method” had not tainted the girl with habitual hypocrisy, and cultivated in the father the warped mind which results from the habit of resistance, and blind weakness which comes from the false idea that he is always having his own way.