I don’t think I am alone in this.
Humans seem to have a primal need to be right, even when there can be a substantial cost.
As you read this, reflect back to the last time you were holding your ground with someone, maintaining how you were right.
What did it gain for you?
Proving to someone that we are right makes us feel powerful, justified and superior. It’s significantly self-indulgent.
The other person – the one proven to be wrong – doesn’t leave the interaction feeling anywhere near as fabulous.
They can feel guilty, regretful and inadequate.
This is the inevitable outcome when we must be right and, therefore, the other must be wrong.
Needing to be right can damage our interactions, relationships and our image.
Where are the winners? Both sides end up losing.
So what can we do instead?
We can give up the simple dichotomy of right and wrong. We can switch the desire to be right with the desire to maintain a good relationship.
When you next catch yourself in one of those ‘I’m right, therefore, you must be wrong’ conversations, take a breath to pause.
- “This relationship is more important than being right”;
- “My standing in this team is more important than being right”;
- “Maintaining the respect of those I lead is more important than being right”.
Ask the person you are in the conversation with: “What are you thinking/feeling? What do you want me to know?” In essence, you are asking “What is true for you?”
Then put yourself in their shoes. Seek to understand the situation from their perspective. Truly seek to see their side. Seeing the situation from their side, does their thinking and feelings make sense to you?
Once you have sought to understand them, share what is true for you.
The direction of the communication can now shift to finding resolutions, solutions and answers rather than continuing the battle to be heard and acknowledged.
Remember, we each attach different meanings to every situation. And these two different meanings between two people can be worlds apart from each other.
The process I have described above can help you appreciate that the other person is just as committed to being right as you are.
But, you don’t have control over what another person’s truths are, what they see as right. You can only change you, and you can change your response.
And by changing your response to a potentially confrontational conversation, you have the power to change the result.
And that’s gold.