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Why Always Being Right Is Wrong

I sat in the meeting with knots in the pit of my stomach. My colleague was sharing policy, and while she was technically right, she was ultimately wrong.

How could she be both right and wrong? It’s surprisingly easy, and we have likely done the same.

Essentially, she was more interested in being right than anything else. Her goal wasn’t to be with her colleagues across the table, to work together toward a solution. It was clear her main priority was to be right - at all costs.

She failed to realize relationships are far more important than ensuring she maintain “rightness.”

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that if something goes against moral or ethical values that our personal convictions must be thrown out the window if someone else in the conversation thinks differently.

No, I’m saying there are times (much more often than we think) when being right is unnecessarily damaging to a relationship.

The key word is unnecessarily.

In the 1980’s, research found a vast majority of married couples who were seeing a therapist were more interested in being right than being married.

Translation: For many, it is more important to be right than in a relationship.

Take a moment to feel the gravity of that statement.

Any semi-deep contemplation of what holds the most value in life generally boils down to one thing: quality relationships. Yet, we are so caviler, and even hateful, toward this precious commodity by trying to always be right.

For example, in this instance with my colleague, while the policy did have guidelines on how to address the question at hand, it was clear policy didn’t have all the answers.

Yet, she was dogmatic about not looking at any other options. Policy was her safe space, the arena in which she could be right.

Policy is never right 100% of the time because it is created by finite people. No human has the capacity to create a perfect and infallible policy. This means if we cling to human-made rules and policies, we are guaranteed to be wrong at some point.

The very thing we are depending upon to give us protection from the big, bad wolf of uncertainty will ultimately gobble us up and cut us off from the central experience of our existence: relationships.

We must lean into people and relationships, rather than push them away.

Relationships are truncated (or not started) through dogma and putting much more energy into being right than into the person before us.

Here is a question we all need to ask ourselves: none of us can ever know enough to be right 100% of the time, so why alienate the most valuable tool (people) while trying to do the impossible?

All topics are bigger than any one person. People and relationships should be our first objective, undergirded and infused by our foundational moral and ethical values.

There are some instances where the relationship cannot continue because values do not align. And that is ok.

What is not ok is when being right is the first objective.

The leader who understands this can fully be with.


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