In a recent roundtable of leaders, someone posed the rhetorical question of why people just can’t admit when they are wrong; why don’t they just say I’m sorry; you are right and I am wrong? The usual banter of agreement went back and forth among those present until I suggested we investigate this question. Why do we have such a hard time with the fundamental desire or need to be right?
WE LOVE and LIVE to be right. We go to great lengths to prove just how right we are; sometimes at the risk of alienating ourselves entirely. The list of positions we take is endless. Take any subject from choosing toothpaste to navigating the road; our views can be awfully strong. Whether it’s a matter of fashion or finance, we certainly know what to spend, how much we should be saving, and what it takes to look good. Right?
The workplace is yet another environment to exercise righteous judgment as we find ourselves quietly assessing the number of bullet points on the power point presentation. If there are too many or if not in accordance with our standards, surely cause for dismay. Especially when coupled with the discovery of the month long tuna casserole experiment growing in the refrigerator that someone has refused to clean out. We all know someone who, no matter what, is not willing to be anything other than right.
Funny thing is…ever notice when you are in an argument and the moment you say, “Ok, I see your point, you are right” the argument ceases and the artillery disappears instantaneously? Yet, we insist.
Hence the diagram: How does it feel when you are right? And what’s your perceived experience when wrong?
Being Right vs. Being Wrong
When you begin to map it out we can clearly see the benefits of being right. This phenomenon shelters us from being vulnerable, scared, and embarrassed. You certainly don’t have to take any risk when you are IN CONTROL. Who doesn’t want to be on safe, familiar, and comfortable ground? But does being right afford you any spiritual or leadership growth? How does it feel for the other person when you are always right? And, if you are always right what must the other person be (answer: title of the other column)?
Does it take any conscious effort to be right? Do you have to be the least bit aware? Does empathy enter the equation when we are right? How about compassion?
A leader has the onus to empathize and do “what’s right”. Instead, some of us pay a mighty price for the sake of being right. The ego is a powerful entity left unexamined. What’s being right costing you?
I sign off with a quote…
“Choose being kind over being right, and you'll be right every time.” Richard Carlson
Posted by: Eunice Carpitella, Lead Your Way Solutions, Consultant
As a consultant for Lead Your Way Solutions, Eunice develops and delivers programs for professionals committed to transformation and success. Eunice brings a strategic and operational prowess that guides positive change, develops leaders, and influences decision making at every level. She holds an M.S. in Organizational Dynamics from The University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. from Arcadia University. She lives in Sussex County, Delaware and enjoys world travel, photography, hiking, yoga and beaching it.