Let’s face it, nobody likes to be wrong about anything. It challenges your sense of self confidence, it’s embarrassing, and it just doesn’t feel good.
That said, being wrong is where learning takes place. When people are correct, they move to the next thing. There is no need for reflection or thinking. Being wrong forces people to contemplate their position and how they arrived at their decision. In doing this people see things differently and learn how to make better decisions. That part of being wrong is obvious, but there is much more to it.
The impact on human interactions when people are wrong is monumental. Almost anyone that realizes they are wrong becomes defensive. In that moment communication can deteriorate and in many cases that makes reaching a resolution difficult, if not impossible. On the other hand, when someone needs to point out that another person is incorrect for some reason, it likely causes anxiety for the person that needs to explain why. In a team structure, it can create stress and make it difficult for the team to function at a high level. We have all experienced situations where people go to great lengths to “prove” they are correct. There are two reasons people decide to press their position; they believe they are correct, or they do not want to lose. Regardless of the reason, this activity is usually destructive for your relationships and your ability to function effectively in your role. No matter which reason is behind pushing that you are correct, at that moment pressing ahead is not going to help resolve anything. When there is disagreement, it is best to do nothing more than listen.
So, what are the not so obvious reasons why it is important to be wrong and accept it gracefully? Other people will analyze how you react to being wrong and how they interpret that will go a long way to determine what they think of you. When you accept that you are incorrect professionally, that shows them that you have confidence in yourself. At that moment they become more confident in you. At the same time, it makes it much easier for people to interact with you. They are not afraid to point out your inaccuracies. In other words, you have given them permission to challenge you. People will be more candid and that will create more fruitful conversations and better decisions in your relationships and in team environments.
Picking your Battles
Let me take this to another level and suggest that at times you should go out of your way to say you are wrong even when you are not. I know that sounds strange but hear me out. You need to decide if you gain more by “not being right”. Human emotions are a powerful thing and in many cases winning the emotional war is more important than winning the immediate battle on an issue or topic. There are many interactions where it simply does not matter who is right. If someone thinks a car is gray and I think it’s silver, does it matter at all who is correct? For that matter, whether a car is blue or red doesn’t matter. As you know this is called picking your battles. Furthermore, if there is more than one way to solve a problem, it can be better in the long run to “not be right”, or probably more accurately, not insisting to do it your way, even if their way is not as good as yours in your opinion. It helps people learn to solve problems and it makes them feel good which is a positive for everyone involved. No matter what role you are in, a spouse, a colleague, or a leader, productive resolutions to important issues are critical. Being right or doing things your way in many cases will do nothing to solve problems because of the “collateral” damage that can occur.
Now you are asking, did Chuck really write this? Okay, do as I say, not as I do. I realize that this is a struggle for me and possibly others, but I hope you will at least give me credit for acknowledging that and putting this on paper (or on the computer screen).
Finally, I want to thank all our constituents, our wonderful Associates, our paying Customers, and our Supplier partners. It has been a trying year in many ways, but it is years like this that make us appreciate the not so trying years. Have a safe and enjoyable holiday season.
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