How To Be Right Without Making Other People Wrong
By Garrison Wynn
are we trying to accomplish by proving to others that we’re right?
We might win the argument but ultimately lose the relationship.
Perhaps a better, deeper-rooted question is this: Why do we lose
sight of success, of our big objective, when we feel challenged or
When I prepare to negotiate, provide a
service or turn my employees’ talent into performance, I know deep
down that if I make people feel valuable they will see my input as
having value. But in that moment when they are just hands-down,
across-the-board dead wrong, I sometimes can’t stop myself from
letting them know how incredibly wrong they are. When that happens,
my ability to influence them vaporizes on the spot, and I’m left
dealing with the response I created by making them wrong.
I think this is the most consistently
counterproductive thing we do in business and, I suspect, in our
personal lives too. It may be the foundation of communication
breakdown. Maybe this behavior is so prevalent because it’s part of
human nature. Could we be natural born jerks? (Jerkdom – nature or
nurture?) If so, how do we overcome the urge to prove our point at
the expense of our business or relationship?
Wynn Solutions studied thousands of top
communicators and saw a common behavior among them: the practice of
not making people wrong. We decided to find out how they did it.
We discovered that these top communicators
lowered their expectations of other people’s behavior before meeting
with them face to face. It seemed to reduce the tendency to
overreact in the heat of the moment. Also, they walked in the door
with an agenda of not making the other person wrong and of looking
for areas where the other person’s knowledge was strong. So when
that moment came – when other people made their limited knowledge
obvious – top communicators were not so ready to pounce.
This approach may sound a bit
condescending to some, but it sure beats dealing with communication
issues you create for yourself by having to prove you’re the
smartest person in the room. It allows you to be right without
making others feel wrong.
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