Use Carnegie’s advice to prevent losing clients over your pride

By Dennis Postema

Postema Marketing Group, LLC


"The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it."

This is what we learn in Dale Carnegie's classic book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People," but do you take his advice?

In the book, Carnegie attempts to correct the host of a party during a discussion. Another gentleman, who was with Carnegie at the time, knew he was factually accurate, but still sided with the host. This left Carnegie puzzled, and when they left Carnegie asked why he chose to side with the host even though the host was inaccurate. The gentlemen then asks Carnegie why he needs to prove a man wrong. Is that going to make him like you? Why not let him save face?

In this situation, who would it hurt if you didn't correct the man? If you prove him wrong, what have you gained? How many times have we all done this as salespeople?

I vividly recall a particular incident when I did this exact thing while at a couple’s house, and I didn't even realize it at the time. I remember leaving thinking, “Ha, I proved him wrong,” and it wasn't until I read this book that I realized my ignorance. In this specific situation, I lost what would’ve been a really big sale, and I could’ve walked out of the house with my head held high. In reality, I didn't win at all. Not only did I lose the sale, but my prospect was in no better of a financial situation than before we met because I was so set on being right. I ended up leaving because they were no longer interested.

Always remember how important it is to build friends, not enemies. This is a lesson that Carnegie needed to learn and so do many of us. Nine times out of 10, an argument ends with both sides convinced they are absolutely right — not a very good way to get clients, is it?

Simply put, you cannot win. Regardless of the argument outcome, you lose. Someone's pride will be damaged, and that will lead to resentment. Like so many lessons in life, I learned this the hard way. Make sure your focus on being right is not costing you a boatload of business. Are you really winning if the client doesn't get served by you?

See also:

​"The Way to Wealth," by Benjamin Franklin: The tax we impose on ourselves by our pride, Pt. 2