3-2 Show respect for the other person's opinions and never say you're wrong

A sure way of making enemies and how to avoid it. Chapter 3 from How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.



When Theodore Roosevelt was in the White House, he confessed that if he could be right 75 percent of the time, he would reach the highest measure of his expectation. If that was the highest rating that one of the most distinguished men of the twentieth century could hope to obtain, what about you and me? If you can be sure of being right only 55 percent of the time, you can go down to Wall Street and make a million dollars a day. If you can't be sure of being right even 55 percent of the time, why should you tell other people they are wrong? You can tell people they are wrong by a look or an intonation or a gesture just as eloquently as you can in words - and if you tell them they are wrong, do you make them want to agree with you? Never! For you have struck a direct blow at their intelligence, judgment, pride and self-respect. That will make them want to strike back. But it will never make them want to change their minds. You may then hurl at them all the logic of a Plato or an Immanuel Kant, but you will not alter their opinions, for you have hurt their feelings. Never begin by announcing "I am going to prove so-and-so to you." That's bad. That's tantamount to saying: "I'm smarter than you are; I'm going to tell you a thing or two and make you change your mind." That is a challenge. It arouses opposition and makes the listener want to battle with you before you even start. It is difficult, under even the most benign conditions, to change people's minds. So why make it harder? Why handicap yourself? If you are going to prove anything, don't let anybody know it. Do it so subtly, so adroitly, that no one will feel that you are doing it. This was expressed succinctly by Alexander Pope: Men must be taught as if you taught them not and things unknown proposed as things forgot. Over three hundred years ago Galileo said: You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him to find it within himself. As Lord Chesterfield said to his son: Be wiser than other people if you can; but do not tell them so. Socrates said repeatedly to his followers in Athens: One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing. Well, I can't hope to be any smarter than Socrates, so I have quit telling people they are wrong. And I find that it pays. If a person makes a statement that you think is wrong - yes, even that you know is wrong - isn't it better to begin by saying: "Well, now, look, I thought otherwise, but I may be wrong. I frequently am. And if I am wrong, I want to be put right. Let's examine the facts." There's magic, positive magic, in such phrases as: "I may be wrong. I frequently am. Let's examine the facts." Nobody in the heavens above or on earth beneath or in the waters under the earth will ever object to your saying: "I may be wrong. Let's examine the facts." One of our class members who used this approach in dealing with customers was Harold Reinke, a Dodge dealer in Billings, Montana. He reported that because of the pressures of the automobile business, he was often hard-boiled and callous when dealing with customers' complaints. This caused flared tempers, loss of business and general unpleasantness. He told his class: "Recognizing that this was getting me nowhere fast, I tried a new tack. I would say something like this: 'Our dealership has made so many mistakes that I am frequently ashamed. We may have erred in your case. Tell me about it.' "This approach becomes quite disarming, and by the time the customer releases his feelings, he is usually much more reasonable when it comes to settling the matter. In fact, several customers have thanked me for having such an understanding attitude. And two of them have even brought in friends to buy new cars. In this highly competitive market, we need more of this type of customer, and I believe that showing respect for all customers' opinions and treating them diplomatically and courteously will help beat the competition."
You will never get into trouble by admitting that you may be wrong. That will stop all argument and inspire your opponent to be just as fair and open and broad-minded as you are. It will make him want to admit that he, too, may be wrong. If you know positively that a person is wrong, and you bluntly tell him or her so, what happens? Let me illustrate. Mr. S a young New York attorney, once argued a rather important case before the United States Supreme Court (Lustgarten v. Fleet Corporation 280 U.S. 320). The case involved a considerable sum of money and an important question of law. During the argument, one of the Supreme Court justices said to him: "The statute of limitations in admiralty law is six years, is it not?" Mr. S stopped, stared at the Justice for a moment, and then said bluntly: "Your Honor, there is no statute of limitations in admiralty." "A hush fell on the court," said Mr. S as he related his experience to one of the author's classes, "and the temperature in the room seemed to drop to zero. I was right. Justice - was wrong. And I had told him so. But did that make him friendly? No. I still believe that I had the law on my side. And I know that I spoke better than I ever spoke before. But I didn't persuade. I made the enormous blunder of telling a very learned and famous man that he was wrong." more

Chapter 3: 12 (twelve) ways to win people to your way of thinking

3.2. Show respect for the other person's opinions and never say that you're wrong
Show respect for the other person's opinions and never say that you're wrong
. A sure way of making enemies and how to avoid it.
3.3. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically
If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically
. (If you're wrong, admit it.
3.4. Begin in a friendly way
Begin in a friendly way
. A Drop Of Honey.