December 6, 2011

What Do You Get From Telling People They're Wrong? by William Montgomery

I have done it, and still do it unconsciously. It can
be something as subtle as simple look in your eyes or a
facial gesture. It can be more obvious as an eloquent
string of harsh words or even the tone of the words you
speak. Nevertheless, telling them they're wrong, is the
wrong foot forward. Nobody appreciates an attack on
their intelligence, on their rational judgment, and
especially their pride. You're looking for a positive
outcome, and most likely going to receive a negative
response. Why not just challenge them to a duel and
decide it there?
Whenever you begin by turning it into an opposition of
"smarter vs. dumber" you automatically begin a battle
between you and the listener before you even start.
>From this point on it is most difficult to make any
impressions or change their minds in a positive manner.
If you are going to prove your point, do it very
subtly. So subtly that they hardly realize it's
happening.
When I am positive about something and want to get it
across, I often use a statement such as, "Well, I'm
sure I'm right, but who knows, I've been wrong before.
I could be again". I am stressing two important facts
in this statement. One, being that I am almost 100%
certain that I am right, and two, that there is a
slight possibility that I am wrong. This means that I
am leaving room for doubt, but stressing the fact that
I am sure. You will always come out on top by admitting
that their is room for error. This will inspire your
opponent to be as open-minded as you seem to be. It
will make him/her think twice about admitting that they
may be wrong in part or whole.
Nothing good can come of telling a person straight out,
that he or she is wrong. You will only succeed in
stripping that person of self-dignity and making
yourself an unwelcome part of any discussion.
Final thought:
Don't argue with your clients. Don't argue with your
Husband or Wife. Don't argue with an Adversary! Please
don't get them all riled up by telling them they're
"wrong"! Use patience, tact, and a little diplomacy!

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