Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Is Your Need to Be "Right" Hurting Your Career?

When you were in school, did your teacher instruct you to choose the “wrong” answer on a test?

What about at work? Does your boss now tell you to try and make "wrong" decisions?

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 always 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 an 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's not easy to admit that you don't have all the right answers, and embracing the ideas of others can be scary. But once you've made that initial move, keep thinking about how you view "right" and "wrong" answers.

You may find yourself letting go of a lot of stress when you can become more flexible in your thinking. As part of this process:

Define what winning looks like to you. Think about what you really want, how you feel about certain issues in your work and personal life and why certain outcomes are so important to you. Would a different outcome really be the end of the world?
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 any negative outcome. Did the interaction result in a less creative outcome or hurt 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.

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