Chapter 11: Respect Other People’s Opinions
When Theodore Roosevelt was President of the United States, he confessed that his highest probability of making the right decision was only 75%. Such is the judgment of one of the most prominent men of the 20th century, what about us?
If you are sure that you are 55% right on every issue, you can go to Wall Street, the financial center of America, and make a million dollars a day. If you have less than that, it means that your decision is not right by 55%. If you’re not 55% right, don’t assume the other person is wrong.
If you want to point out the faults of others with words, looks or gestures, can you make them respect you? Never, of course, because you’ve struck a heavy blow to their intellect, judgment, pride, and self-esteem. Of course they want to hit you back and will defend their opinion to the end. You can use all the logic of the ancient philosophers, but there will be no logic to a wounded heart.
Please never start with “I’ll prove you wrong”. It is also synonymous with the sentence: “I am smarter than you. Let me tell you to change your stupid mind!” This is actually a challenge.
It creates resistance and makes the listener want to rebut you right before you start. There is always the truth in the fact that of the two people arguing, the one who admits to being at fault is the smarter one.
Changing other people’s opinions is difficult, even under the most favorable conditions, and tough advice without results becomes hammer blows back to us. Then why do we choose such a difficult path?
If you want to prove something, do it delicately so that no one feels it.
Alexander Pope summed this up as follows: “Teaching people, must be tactful as if teaching nothing, teaching the unknown but as if repeating the forgotten thing. Because one simple thing is that for those who know, half a word is enough for them to understand everything we want to say.”
More than three hundred years ago, the astronomer Galileo said: “You can’t teach anyone anything, you can only help him find it in himself.”
And, Chesterfield once taught his son, “Be smarter than others if you can, but don’t tell them you’re smarter than them.”
The sage Socrates repeated to his disciples: “I know only one thing, and that is that I know nothing“.
If someone makes a comment that you think is wrong, perhaps you should reply: “I have a different opinion than you, but I may be wrong. Okay, now let’s take a look at it. I’m always wrong, and if I’m wrong, I’d love for us to correct it.”
The saying “I might be wrong” contains a very mysterious message. There is no saying that is easier to understand and accept than to say frankly and sincerely, “I was wrong”. There is no one in this world who opposes or does not appreciate such honest and humble admission of guilt.
One of the students in our class who often uses this behavior is Harold Reinke, a Dodge dealer in Billings, Montana. In the past, because of the pressure of the auto business, he was often harsh and callous to customers who came to complain.
Realizing that this approach would only lead to antagonism, anger, and ultimately ruin, he changed his approach. “I used to say something like this: ‘We could be wrong in your case. Please tell me what you mean?’. This approach often makes people less willing to resist. Once the anger has been released, the client is often more vocal and genuinely wants to settle the matter gently.
Indeed, many clients have thanked me for being empathetic towards them. Some customers even refer friends to our shop to buy cars. We really need such customers. I think that showing respect for all opinions of our customers and treating them with courtesy and sincerity will help us win in the fiercely competitive marketplace.”
You will rarely get in trouble if you accept that you can be wrong. This will put an end to all arguments and make the other person as polite, open and generous as you are. In particular, it will make them want to accept that they too can be wrong.
If you know for sure that someone is wrong and you loudly tell that person they are wrong, what will happen? Mr. S., a young lawyer in New York, once defended a rather important case before the Supreme Court of the United States. This lawsuit involves a large amount of money and an important matter of law. During the court argument, one of the Supreme Court justices asked him: “The restriction in the Navy law is six years, isn’t it?”.
Mr. S. stopped, gawking court and said loudly: “Sir, there is no restriction in the Navy law.”
“The whole court was suddenly silent, the atmosphere seemed to freeze,” Mr. S. recounted his experience. “I am right. This swashbuckler was wrong and I have to tell him. I still believe that the law is in my favor. That day I performed my role as a lawyer more brilliantly than ever. But in the end I failed to convince him. I made the great mistake of telling a very wise and famous man that he was wrong in front of a large audience, and even worse, in his courtroom.”
Few people think logically. Most of us are biased and biased. Most of us are confused by prejudices, jealousy, mistrust, fear, lust, and pride. Most people don’t want to change regardless of whether it’s their political views, religion or hairstyle or admiration for a movie star. So if you are inclined to criticize the mistakes or opinions of others, every morning before breakfast read this quote by James Harvey Robinson in The Mind in the Mind. Making):
“Sometimes it’s easy to change our mind without any resistance or emotion. But if someone tells us that our opinion is wrong, we immediately tend to protest, blame others and close the door of our hearts. We are utterly indifferent to the process of forming our beliefs, yet unreasonably desire to defend those beliefs when others disprove them.
Not because the beliefs themselves have any spiritual value to us, but only because our self-esteem is threatened… “mine” is the most important concept in human relations; If we pay attention to this concept, we have a very smart way to start. Whether it is “my” idea, “my” lover or “my” house, or “my” father, “my” country, “my” God, all are inviolable.
Not only do we get annoyed when someone says that our watch is wrong, or that our car is old-fashioned, but even when people touch on our notions of Mars, Venus, and pronunciation. a difficult word, about the medical value of a drug or about the time of the birth of a work. We are in the habit of believing what we are used to believing, accepting as true, and get annoyed when anyone doubts any of our beliefs. After all, most of the so-called reasoning is just what we try to make up to defend our beliefs.”
I once hired an interior decorator to redecorate my house. When the bill arrived, I was startled to see the final number. A few days later, a friend came to the house and took a look at the decorations. After hearing the price, she exclaimed triumphantly: “What? Terrible. I’m afraid you’ve been tricked.” That’s right, she was right. But people do not easily accept the truth pointed out by others that they are wrong.
So I tried to defend myself. I say that you get what you pay for, you can’t equate the quality and taste of art with price, etc. The next day, another friend visited, looked at the decorations in the house and excitedly expressed his desire to have such wonderful things for his home. My reaction was different. I said, “Actually, I paid the wrong price. I regret buying them.”
We can admit mistakes to ourselves and we can also admit mistakes in front of people who respect us and treat us kindly. At that time we were proud that we were honest and open. But if someone rudely threw my mistake straight in my face, things would be different.
Horace Greeley, the head of one of the most famous publishing houses in America during the Civil War, was very disgruntled with President Lincoln’s policies. He campaigned month after month, month after month, year after year, campaigning for debates, criticisms, smears, and sarcasm to get the President to change his mind and agree with him, but completely useless.
If you want some great suggestions on how to treat others and control yourself, and improve your character, then read the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, one of the most interesting biographies, became become a classic of American literature. In it, Franklin! considered one of the most delicate, wise and charismatic men in American history, recounts how he overcame the habit of subjectivity in reasoning and changed himself.
When Franklin was a careless young man, an elderly friend once bluntly criticized him, saying, “Ben, you are too much. Anyone who disagrees with him is as if he said it like slapping water in the face, so that no one wants to contact him anymore. Whenever he was present, people felt uncomfortable. You have to know that, like that, no one will want to give you any advice or advice because of your temperament, it is useless to say anything.
Then the bunch of limited knowledge of you won’t have a chance to open it.” It’s wonderful that Franklin accepted this heavy criticism. He was wise enough to understand that was true and knew that he was headed for failure and possible disaster with such behavior. So he immediately decided to change his behavior completely.
“I make a rule,” said Franklin, “to forsake the hurtful bluntness of speech and any extreme assertions that defend one’s own opinion. Even, I forbid myself from using any words that contain a prejudice, like “surely”, “I can’t be wrong”… but replaced it with the words “in my opinion” , “I feel”… When others say something wrong, I refrain from vehemently refuting it immediately, but always consider and choose my words that the opinion is right in a certain case or situation, but in the current case, maybe slightly different, etc.
It didn’t take long for me to see the benefits of this change. Conversations have become more open, more interesting. My modestly expressed opinions are more acceptable to others and less controversial. And I’m less embarrassed every time I make a mistake. I struggled with this method at first because it was against my natural inclinations. But in the long run, it became so easy and so familiar that in 50 years no one has heard a word of dogma from my mouth.”
He did not speak fluently, his reasoning was not eloquent, his words were not accurate, but it was this habit combined with his integrity that the new policies and institutions he introduced were supported by the people. Since then, he has achieved many successes and brought many benefits to the people.
How can we think about how Ben Franklin’s methods can be applied in business?
Katherine R. Alfred, who lives in North Carolina, is the technical supervisor of a yarn processing factory. She is responsible for establishing and maintaining a system of standards for machine operation and activities to improve productivity. Previously, her factory was very successful with some yarn products.
But recently, the factory has expanded its categories and invested in technology to produce over twelve different types of yarn. The current management system is no longer suitable because of the limitation on the salary of the machine operator and of course not enough factors to stimulate production increase. She devised a new management system that allowed workers to be paid based on the amount of product they produced.
“Holding my new plan, I walked into the meeting room and proved to everyone that my management was the right approach,” she says. I demonstrate in detail to them where they went wrong and where they went wrong. I also had all the answers they needed. But the result was a catastrophic failure! I was so focused on defending my new system’s stance that I neglected the most important thing, gaining their consent, persuading them to happily recognize and correct the flaws in my approach. old.
After attending the class, I clearly understood where I made a mistake. In the following meeting, I asked everyone to express their views on the problems of the enterprise. We discuss each point and solicit opinions from everyone to see what points need to be resolved immediately and how.
With a few equal suggestions, I let them develop my system on their own. At the end of the meeting, when I actually presented my system, they all happily accepted it. Now, I firmly believe that nothing can be done that can even be harmful if you tell someone bluntly that he is wrong.”
And this is a case in point for thousands of other experiences from so many people. R. V. Crowley was a salesman for a lumber company in New York. Crowley admits that he has been one of the staunchest censors, and has won most of the arguments. But that doesn’t do any good. Mr. Crowley realized that even if he won the arguments, his firm would lose thousands of dollars. So he decided to change tactics and give up arguing. How was the result? Here is the story as he recounted:
“One day, a customer called my company and yelled at me that the wood we had just delivered was completely unqualified. His factory stopped unloading and asked us to arrange for this poor quality truck to be removed from his yard immediately.
On the way to his factory, I kept thinking about the best way to handle this situation. Often in such cases, I often invoke the rules of wood grading and my experience as a timber inspector, to convince the other tester that the timber is indeed up to the mark, that he made a mistake somewhere. But I don’t do that anymore, I decided to apply the principles I just learned in this training.
Arriving at the factory, I saw my staff and the inspector and the other tester was starting to argue loudly. I told him to just work naturally, while unloading, remove the poor quality logs. Watching him work for a moment, I understood the problem. He was too strict and misunderstood the testing rules. Obviously he was not well versed in this particular white pine, which is my forte.
So I gradually came up with the questions why some logs didn’t meet the requirements. I didn’t suggest in the slightest that he was wrong, but emphasized that the only reason I asked was to be able to evaluate to the standard they wanted for future shipments.
By asking friendly, cooperative questions, and always emphasizing that they had the right to disqualify logs that did not meet their standards, I made him change his mind. The tension eased and then disappeared. Some of the correct comments I made seemed to confuse him, he lost confidence in his assessment and began to hesitate when deciding on a wood classification.
Finally, he admitted that he was not very good at white pine and began to ask me about each log as it was carried out of the car. I explained why a certain log would fit the stated standard but continued to emphasize that we did not want him to accept it if it was not fit for the purpose of the mill. Then he felt guilty every time he threw a log in the scrap pile. The end result was that he accepted the full amount and we received a full check.”
General Robert E. Lee during the Civil War once gave a warm compliment before Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, for an officer under him. One of his attendants asked in surprise, “General! Did you forget that that person was one of your sworn enemies? It was that person who did not miss an opportunity to humiliate you!”. General Lee replied: “That’s right! But the President asked my opinion about him, not his opinion about me.”
2,200 years before Jesus was born, King Akhtoi of Egypt gave his son wise advice that still holds true today: “Be smart. It will help you get what you want.” In other words, never argue with your client or your spouse or those who oppose you. Never say they are wrong. Don’t anger them. Deal with them in the most delicate, polite and sincere way.
“The rarest talent is that of a man who sees others as talented” – Ernest Hemingway
Principle 11: Respect the opinions of others. Never say: “You are wrong!”