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Hayli @ Rise Smart

Great post! I think we all do this more than we care to realize, but hopefully your next post will enlighten us on how to stop, or at least do it less. I'll stay tuned.

Hayli @ Rise Smart

Sudden thought: Don't you think many people use this "I'm right, you're wrong" approach to try and move up the career ladder? In other words, they always have to appear right in front of the boss because they feel it makes them come across as more competent? And how much do you think a boss really values an employee "being right", versus "being respectful of others" and "being a team player." I guess it depends on the boss...

Steve Roesler


Your "sudden thought" brings up another aspect of this: the fact that bosses can promote or stop this kind of stuff as a result of their own responses.

I'm sure Peter will want to weigh in on this one as well...

Beth Robinson

What I've found since I've been paying more attention to my communication style is that this tendency can show up in more subtle ways than I would have originally thought. It's not necessarily about getting the other person to say they're wrong and you're right, but also about putting a truth (well, the truth as you see it, of course) in such a way that to acknowledge it the other person has to take a step back in their position instead of a step forward. That can be just enough tension to create pushback and escalation. I can't remember the exact conversation, but I do remember recognizing with an oops, back-pedaling, and rewording.

peter vajda

Hi, Hayli,

Being right, being respectful of others and being a team player are not mutually exclusive. One can be/do all three in a positive, honest, sincere, authentic and mutually-supportive way. It's only when ego drives the process that such behaviors can become fake and phony, and many folks, bosses included, can both see and sense this duplicity.

Continuing Steve's point, discerning bosses and colleagues are able to spot the disconnects and if they are caring, skilled and compassionate can tug on another's sleeve and support them to be authentic...without having to shore themsleves up, or otherwise come across as disrespectful, needing to be "right" all the time, etc.

Folks who are secure in their own skin don't have the need to continually act in a way that says, "See me! See me! I am somebody! I am right! I am competent!" Secure folks show up and are seen and noticed...without having to make it obvious.

peter vajda

Hi, Beth,

Good points. First, much of the tendency to "be right at the expense of your being wrong" is learned behavior and for many is a blind spot. They do do it as that's how they learned to protect themsleves (from feeling "bad" or "wrong" or "less than" or "not enough" in some way, shape or form) as they grew up and now as adults exhibit this patterned behavior as a matter of course. It's who they are and until or unless they can see this in themselves or someone supports them by pointing it out, they continue the pattern.

Asking questions is a wonderful way for people to reach common ground...and by this I mean understanding one another, not necessarily agreeing, and be on a level playing field without having to shore myself up by putting another down.

Perhaps "tugging on my own sleeve" before I comment can help me reframe:

"What am I wanting to achieve here?" "How might what I say come across as defensive, pushy, all-knowing, self-righteous? "Is what I'm about to say coming from my own need to be right?" "What am I sensing in my body? -- as the body will ALWAYS tell one the truth of the situation. "What do I want for me, for the other person and for our relationship?"

It's about "conscious" communication, not reactive communication.


I think with the burst of social media on the scene, it's making the right/wrong issue even more difficult. By hiding behind a virtual current or a "place" like Facebook or even Twitter - people feel more apt to say things they would never say to someone's face. It's making common decency a thing of the past.
As someone that runs their business totally online - (and has an on-air radio background) - I strive to build rapport. And I think this is donw best by LISTENING. Forget being "right" - and just listen. That's the best advice I can give.

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