Q. I'm an avid reader of this column and am puzzled by why you so often recommend telling coworkers they are right in an argument. I think the truth is important. I always speak my mind. Do I have to pick between making my point and being effective at work?
A. Yes, being right and being effective are mutually exclusive choices. When you fight to be right, you guarantee the other person is now at risk of being wrong. Most normal people will then engage in a power struggle with you that will not end in you getting what you want.
We accidentally trigger these fears in our coworkers when we insist on being right. Unfortunately, most of your coworkers identify being right with being good and adequate. Thus, they will fight to the death to be right.
If you understand this dynamic, you will become a black belt at workplace politics. You will probably be the only one in your workplace who can emotionally afford to be wrong ... and then get what you want. Most people around you will actually give away what they originally wanted if you will just let them be right.
I've had executive coaching clients who have spent years arguing with me about why it is necessary for them to be right. Then one day, they allow the other person to be right and quickly get what they want.
Realize there is a long, long checkout line at work of people who will do just about anything to be right. Consider whether you'd rather be in an area with no line with people who can tolerate being wrong and effective.
An excellent phrase to practice when a coworker wants to make you wrong is, "You may be right." You'll then be able to return to negotiating the outcome you desire because you allowed your coworker to win the power struggle for self-esteem.
If you find it nearly impossible to let coworkers win right/wrong arguments, ask yourself what you hope to gain by winning? Anytime you get to be right, you'll still face the insecurity of being wrong in the future. Ask yourself what your long-term benefit is by winning one self-esteem power struggle.
Now ask yourself what your long-term gain is when you let others be right and consistently get the result you prefer? Who do you figure has the most power and influence at work, the person who is right or the person who gets results?
Yes, you'll have to give up the emotional dessert of immediate satisfaction when you win an argument. However, as time goes by and you accumulate result over result, being right might seem much less delicious.
The last word(s)
Q. I have a job I love and I am paid well. I listen to friends who complain about their jobs. Is it cheating to be making good money to be paid to do what you enjoy?
A. No, we do our best work at an activity that feels like adult play. Enjoying our work puts us in a state of creativity and passion for excellence -- and that is exactly what others want to pay us for!
(Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at http://www.interpersonaledge.com or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.)
Avoid the 'fight to be right' to get results
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