“By fighting you never get enough, but by yielding you get more than you expected.”
Human Relations Principle #12: If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
(This is the twelfth in a series of articles where I will encapsulate each of Dale Carnegie’s timeless, life-changing principles for dealing with people. (Adapted from How to Win Friends and Influence People.))*
Any fool can try to defend his or her mistakes—and most fools do—but it raises one above the herd and gives one a feeling of nobility and exultation to admit one’s mistakes.
Say about yourself all the derogatory things you know the other person is thinking or wants to say or intends to say—and say them before that person has a chance to say them. The chances are a hundred to one that a generous, forgiving attitude will be taken and your mistakes will be minimized.
There is a certain degree of satisfaction in having the courage to admit one’s errors. It not only clears the air of guilt and defensiveness, but often helps solve the problem created by the error.
If we know we are going to be rebuked anyhow, isn’t it far better to beat the other person to it and do it ourselves? Isn’t it much easier to listen to self-criticism than to bear condemnation from alien lips?
Robert E. Lee’s Courage and Character in the Face of Defeat
For example, one of the most beautiful things that history records about Robert E. Lee is the way he blamed himself and only himself for the failure of Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg… Lee was far too noble to blame others. As Pickett’s beaten and bloody troops struggled back to the Confederate lines, Robert E. Lee rode out to meet them all alone and greeted them with a self-condemnation that was little short of sublime. “All has been my fault,” he confessed. “I and I alone have lost this battle.” Few generals in all history have had the courage and character to admit that.
When we are right, let’s try to win people gently and tactfully to our way of thinking, and when we are wrong—and that will be surprisingly often, if we are honest with ourselves—let’s admit our mistakes quickly and with enthusiasm.
Much success and fulfillment with mastering human relations,
* The best guide on effective human relations that I have ever encountered is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, published in 1936. Prior to writing the book, Carnegie spent 20 years researching the habits of successful people. The book has sold over 30 million copies and is still listed on Amazon’s top 100 best selling books.
Other articles within this series you may enjoy:
3 Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
- Human Relations Principle #1: Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
- Human Relations Principle #2: Give honest and sincere appreciation.
- Human Relations Principle #3: Arouse in the other person an eager want.
6 Ways to Make People Like You
- Human Relations Principle #4: Become genuinely interested in other people.
- Human Relations Principle #5: Smile.
- Human Relations Principle #6: Remember that a person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
- Human Relations Principle #7: Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
- Human Relations Principle #8: Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
- Human Relations Principle #9: Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely.
12 Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking
- Human Relations Principle #10: The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
- Human Relations Principle #11: Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”