May 2019 Newsletter How to win a conversation by admitting you are wrong

How to win a conversation by admitting you are wrong



You don’t have to act like the smartest person in the room to be the smartest person in the room.


If you’ve been reading my newsletters for a while, you know that I believe we should make everyone feel like they matter all the time — not just once in a while but as often as we possibly can. This is equally important when you are having a conversation with someone who insists they are right and you are wrong. They obviously need a victory more than you do, so why not give them the victory? This doesn’t mean you are patronizing them or trying to avoid a lengthy argument; it means you are being respectful of their views and letting them know you understand that their point of view is not wrong since they believe it is accurate.


“I don’t really care about being right, I just care about success. I don’t mind being wrong, and I’ll admit that I’m wrong a lot. It doesn’t really matter to me too much. What matters to me is that we do the right thing.” — Steve Jobs



Challenging conversations will happen daily for most of us, either in a personal or business setting. Depending on how we respond, these conversations can have positive or negative outcomes.


I believe confidence is king. When you know your conclusion is accurate and you have explained and justified your side of the debate, then you’ve done enough. Confidently let the person know how much you respect their opinion.


I have been in leadership roles most of my life. Looking back, I am proud of the fact that when someone proved me wrong I let them know and thanked them for educating me. HOWEVER, a lot of times I didn’t realize they were right until long after the conversation was over, sometimes weeks later. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have called my mother to let her know how right she was in most of our conversations during my youth and adulthood. In the workplace I believe the problem needs to be solved much more quickly to avoid a negative outcome. I have found that it is liberating to admit I am wrong and even more satisfying when I thank the other person for providing the facts to substantiate their position.


Being right half the time beats being half right all the time.” — Malcolm Forbes


Most of us have friends or co-workers who enjoy arguing on just about every topic somebody brings up. When we are talking with someone like this, we can choose how the conversation will go. Unless you are 100% confident you have all the evidence that you are right, then let it go and move on. You lose nothing by not winning a disagreement. If there is a chance you could possibly be wrong, then let them know immediately.


Being in real estate the majority of my life, I have had customers who felt they knew more than I did about buying and selling homes. Sometimes they were right and I let them know it. However, whenever a customer makes a statement or observation that I know is wrong, I will respectfully let them know and move on. If neither one of us is sure what the answer is, then the proper thing to do is to tell your customer “I am not sure. However, I will find out and get back to you about it.”


Nobody has all the answers, and admitting you don’t know something will build trust with your client. I have always had a problem with people in the real estate industry who say “I think so” or “I assume so.” There is no place for statements like these in any industry, let alone one where clients are making the biggest investment of their life. If you aren’t 100% sure about something, make a commitment that you will find the correct information.

Here are eight suggestions for handling a conversation with someone who disagrees with you:


  1. Do not become defensive.
  2. Listen more than you speak.
  3. Know your facts.
  4. Keep your emotions under control, regardless of how passionate you are about the topic you are discussing.
  5. Be open-minded.
  6. Respect the other person’s perspective and show it.
  7. Ask questions.
  8. Use facts to justify your position.


Becoming a person who doesn’t need to be right all the time doesn’t happen overnight — it takes time and patience. Your ultimate goal when you disagree with someone should be to reach a point where everyone leaves the conversation feeling good. As Andy Rooney said, “Being kind is more important than being right.” Let’s all remember that advice the next time we have a challenging conversation. Be grateful that you have the ability to debate anything at all, let alone be right some of the time (because nobody is right all the time).


If not now, then when? And if not you, then who?


Van Deeb is recognized as an authority in sales, customer service, and leadership. His proven methods and techniques helped Van build one of the largest real estate companies in the country, growing his business from just himself to an agency with 350 associates. Invite Van to present a workshop, keynote, or event at your company. Contact Van at his direct line: 402-680-8448, through email:, or on the Web at

What People in the Audience are Saying…

With Van's passion, humor and experience you can be assured of one thing- your audience is going to get fired-up, built-up, and fully charged –up. As an entrepreneur at the top of his game Van is in the unique position of being able to "talk the talk" because he has "walked the walk". Over the years he has been a great inspiration to me and my staff. Van is a speaker with charisma, humility and impact and he's a difference maker in the lives of the people he touches…"

—George Akers // President, First Mortgage Corp.

I wanted to thank you for coming and speaking with our company today. I thought your presentation was awesome! I was really motivated and inspired by your thoughts and ideas. I will use this motivation to grow my business and my personal life.”

—Justin Pauls // Realtor, Tampa, Florida

We are delighted you will be accepting the award for Omaha’s Top 25 fastest growing companies. Congratulations on your outstanding growth and we wish you continued success.”

—Tracey Fortina // Omaha Chamber of Commerce

Thank you for running such a class act company. It is an honor and a pleasure to be associated with someone such as yourself. I know you are probably one of the most respected businessmen in the region.”

—Dustin Talacko // Realtor, Omaha, Nebraska

Congratulations on writing “Selling from the heart” and thank you for sharing a copy with me. Your class has been one of the most enjoyable classes I’ve ever taken. Your enthusiasm and passion for your work are awesome. But the most refreshing part of the class was your delightful sense of humor. Thank you again for being a fantastic teacher.”

—Linda Reismeiler // Student at Randall School of Real Estate, Omaha, Nebraska

Kudos to you, Van, for reaching a major goal. But more than that...For successfully building one of Omaha’s best companies from scratch and making it thrive even in less than ideal market conditions. You have realized the American Dream...And brought it home to many, many others. My best to you!”

—Todd Andrews, Anchor and Producer, KETV Omaha

Having you here again was such a blessing to so many! As I looked at the pictures, I could see just how interested each and every person was in what you had to say!

This has been such a gift to our agents when they need it the most. The fact that you come, you are so genuine and caring, you are so honest, you are not trying to sell anything and your passion to help each and every person believe in themselves and become the best they can be is HUGE! The timing is perfect for us all helping and caring about each other, so, thank YOU from the bottom of my heart for giving of yourself to help all of us!”

—Carolyn Summerton // First Mortgage Company of Idaho

I enjoyed your seminar and its focus. I was on the fence whether or not to attend and decided why not? I could have sat through an all day session if there was one, usually I end up at the seminars that start with a focus and quickly go astray. I found with yours time flew by too fast and it was already time to go but I wasn’t ready to go.”

—Scott Asbill, CDPE // Associate Broker, Realtor