When you went to school, did anyone ever tell you to be sure and choose the “wrong” answer on a test?
At work, does your boss regularly tell you to make the “wrong” decisions?
Probably not. From the time we are children, we are counseled to make the “right” choices, and how to look “right” and how to do the “right” thing. That often continues in the workplace, that need to be ”right.”
And, the more “right” we are, the more likely we are to become rigid in our way of thinking. But here’s something to think about: By denying there is anything left to learn, we undermine ourselves and our companies. Failing to acknowledge that other people may have the right answer can really affect an individual’s and organization’s success. The most successful people, after all, often challenge others to come up with a better idea and then learn from that input.
Of course, letting go of being “right” all the time takes courage. It means that you first have to admit that you’ve gone too far and you need to improve. But once you’ve done that, you should:
• Define what winning looks like to you. Think about what you really want, how you feel about certain issues in your life and at work, and how your life experiences have impacted how you regard those things.
• Look at how often your need to be right really interferes with what you want. If you shut people down by interrupting them with your “right” solution, or they turn away because you have proven them “wrong,” note this interaction in a journal. Keep track of what happened, your reaction, and what the price was, such as a less creative answer or hurting a relationship with a co-worker.
• Ask questions. Instead of jumping in with the answer all the time, become more curious. Ask others what they think, and give them a chance to respond. Only then should you offer your opinion.
• See the world in shades of gray. Consider how often your thinking is automatically “right versus wrong.” Try to look at all sides of the issue before making a decision.