If a person makes a statement that you think or know is wrong, begin by saying, “Well, I thought otherwise, but I may be mistaken. I frequently am. Let’s examine the facts.” You’ll never get into trouble by admitting you may be wrong. That’ll stop all arguments and inspire the other person to be just as fair and broad-minded as you are. It’ll make him or her want to admit that he or she, too, may be wrong.
We sometimes find ourselves changing our minds without any resistance or heavy emotion, but if we are told we are wrong, we resent the imputation and harden our hearts. We are incredibly heedless in the formation of our beliefs, but find ourselves filled with a passion to defend them when anyone proposes to rob us of their companionship.
It is not the ideas themselves that are dear to us, but our self-esteem, which is threatened. We like to continue to believe what we have been accustomed to accept as true, and the resentment aroused when doubt is cast upon any of our assumptions, lead us to seek every manner of excuse for clinging to them. The result is that most of our so-called reasoning consists in finding arguments for going on believing as we already do.
When we are wrong, we may admit it to ourselves. And if we are handled gently and tactfully, we may admit it to others and even take pride in our frankness and broadmindedness. But it’s in our human nature to resist if someone else is trying to ram the fact down our throat.
If you’re wrong, admit it quickly, and never tell another person he or she is wrong without first admitting that you, too, could be mistaken.
Here’s an example of this success principle in action from your friends at Dale Carnegie Training of Atlanta:
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