This is an excerpt from the book of HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE,
WHEN THEODORE ROOSEVELT was in the White House, he confessed that if he
could be right 75 percent of the time, he would reach the highest measure of his
If that was the highest rating that one of the most distinguished men of the
twentieth century could hope to obtain, what about you and me?
If you can be sure of being right only 55 percent of the time, you can go
down to Wall Street and make a million dollars a day. If you can’t be sure of
being right even 55 percent of the time, why should you tell other people they
You can tell people they are wrong by a look or an intonation or a gesture
just as eloquently as you can in words – and if you tell them they are wrong, do
you make them want to agree with you? Never! For you have struck a direct
blow at their intelligence, judgement, pride and self-respect. That will make
them want to strike back. But it will never make them want to change their
minds. You may then hurl at them all the logic of a Plato or an Immanuel Kant,
but you will not alter their opinions, for you have hurt their feelings.
Never begin by announcing ‘I am going to prove so-and-so to you.’ That’s
bad. That’s tantamount to saying: ‘I’m smarter than you are. I’m going to tell
you a thing or two and make you change your mind.’
That is a challenge. It arouses opposition and makes the listener want to
battle with you before you even start.
It is difficult, under even the most benign conditions, to change people’s
minds. So why make it harder? Why handicap yourself?
If you are going to prove anything, don’t let anybody know it. Do it so
subtly, so adroitly, that no one will feel that you are doing it.