If You’re Wrong — Admit it Quickly

July 9, 2012

Dale Carnegie always said that there’s magic—positive magic—in such phrases as: “I may be wrong. I frequently am. Let’s examine the facts.” And rest assured, nobody in the heavens above or on the earth will ever object to your saying it.

One of his 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.

Reinke told the 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 have erred in your case. Tell me about

“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.”

Remember—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

Here’s an example of this important principle in action from your friends at Dale
Carnegie Training of Central Ohio:


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