Q: In your column, you often tell your readers not to worry about being right. Why not? I think it's important to stand up for myself, hold...
Q: In your column, you often tell your readers not to worry about being right. Why not? I think it’s important to stand up for myself, hold my ground and make sure people know what the facts are! Don’t people need to grow up and admit when they’re wrong?
A: Yes, but the ability to admit that we’re wrong is still a relatively rare quality on this planet. So, unless we want to wait to have a good life until everyone else grows up, our only option is to grow up ourselves.
A well-kept secret in the workplace is that most men worry about being inadequate and most women worry about being bad. When we get into right/wrong power struggles with others, the kid in us panics and thinks that if we’re “wrong” we must also be bad or inadequate. So we fight to the death to never be wrong.
There are two problems with this common workplace strategy. One, it’s tough to always avoid being wrong. Two, you absolutely cannot simultaneously focus on being right and being effective at the same time. Surprisingly, many of us would rather be right than get results.
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If you are grown up yourself (or trying to be) you have the option of signing up for being wrong anytime, anywhere, with anyone who needs to be right. You then, brilliantly, can go after what you want and let the other person bask in the glow of their “rightness.” Who do you think gets the better bargain?
Like starting to work out in a gym, it takes new emotional muscles to quit defending yourself. At first you might be a little sore or tired from not engaging in your usual defensive habits.
I often joke that, when I die, if God asks if I missed anything, I’ll answer that I missed the juicy thrill of adrenaline fighting to be right. I figure God will have a good chuckle (at my expense) before pointing out that I did get results!
Of course, if you still think the sweet smell of success is getting a whiff of somebody else after you’ve burned the brand of “wrong” into them, then you aren’t frustrated or bored enough yet with your lack of effectiveness.
Consider this: You can fight for eternity for the privilege to be right, but in the end what will you win?
The last word(s)
Q: I started working in a new job with a rude, angry co-worker. Do you think I can “kill her with kindness” and get her to shape up?
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., is an executive coach, trainer, therapist, speaker and author of “Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything” (Hay House, 2006). She can be reached at 1420 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 2845, Issaquah, WA 98027-7001; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org