Being wrong is usually not good for your career. But being right, or at least acting like you are, can also be a liability. Learn why…
TranscriptI’d Agree With You, But Then We’d Both Be Wrong
Everyone likes to be right.
And knowing you as I do, you probably are legitimately “right” much of the time.
But there’s a paradox: If we enter a difficult conversation focused on our own rightness, we increase the likelihood that we are going to get it wrong.
For one, we are over-confident in our ability to determine what is correct. I do simple visual puzzles in my trainings in which all the data is directly in front of participants’ noses. Even when I urge them to answer only when they are certain they are correct, 50% of participants get the puzzle wrong.
And this is child’s play compared to even simple disagreements at work, which are not only much more complex, but often don’t have an objectively “right” answer.
Second, when we’ve already made up our minds, we aren’t open to changing them. Our counterparts almost always know things that we don’t, things that could help us make better decisions. Focusing on being right seals us off from what they know.
Finally, when we are overly concerned with being right, it’s abrasive, not the best way to be when we’re trying to influence others. If we don’t actively solicit our counterpart’s concerns, we risk alienating them and potentially damaging our relationship.
So the next time you catch yourself entering a conversation thinking you are right, instead strive to:
1. Be humble and present your perspective as a theory to be tested.
2. Listen in a way that demonstrates genuine interest in their concerns.
3. Perhaps most importantly, coach yourself to be curious and open-minded: One of the most persuasive things we can do is to be open to persuasion ourselves.
There’s nothing wrong with being right.
But if we can manage to hold our opinions a bit more lightly, we’ll be even more successful.