A Sure Way of Making Enemies – & How To Avoid It

“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.” – Dale Carnegie

Does this ring a bell with anyone? Has anyone ever tried proving someone wrong to get a reaction, only to hurt yourself more while going back and forth? Trying to make someone feel bad about they said actually makes you look like a douche.

If you’re going to prove anything, do it in a subtle way.  A way that you’re not trying to make them feel bad, but just go with the flow.  There are a lot of different ways to doing this.

Example,  there was a man by the name of R. V. Crowley, who was a salesman for a lumber company in New York. Crowley admitted that he had been telling lumber inspectors for years that they were wrong. And he had won the arguments, too. But it hadn’t done any good. “For these lumber inspectors,” said Mr. Crowley, “are like baseball umpires. Once they make a decision, they never change it.”

So, one morning these inspectors called him, hot and bothered, by what was happening and their lumber yard.  When R.V. Crowley went down to the yard to inspect everything, he found an agent and a friend standing there, breathing heavily, ready to FIGHT.

When Crowley was taken to the yard and the inspector started showing him the lumber, he realized that the inspector was experienced only in hard wood, but not white pine.  However, did Crowley offer any objections during the entire process? No.  He just kept on watching and gradually began to ask questions as to why certain pieces were not satisfactory.  He didn’t insinuate at all that the inspector was wrong.

By asking in a very friendly and cooperative spirit, there’s not a chance in the world the inspector would not only get mad, but jump all over Crowley for the grades of the pine being different.

Gradually his whole attitude changed. He finally admitted to me that he was not experienced on white pine and began to ask Crowley questions about each piece as it came out of the car. He would explain why such a piece came within the grade specified, but kept on insisting that his company did not want him to take it if it was unsuitable for their purpose. He finally got to the point where he felt guilty every time he put a piece in the rejected pile. And at last he saw that the mistake was on their part for not having specified as good a grade as they needed.

The ultimate outcome was that he went through the entire carload again after Crowley left, accepted the whole lot, and Crowley’s company received a check in full.
In that one instance alone, a little tact, and the determination to refrain from telling the other man he was wrong, saved his company a substantial amount of cash.


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