Addicted to Being Right

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Are you addicted to being right? Being right always feels nice but it could be holding you back from greater success. My wife Robin is right about many things and she is kind enough to let me think some of those things are actually my idea. We’ll explore the issue in greater depth below.

Addicted to Being Right

Chances are you don’t like being told what to do. Whether it’s your mother, father, spouse, child or boss, you will resist doing what they tell you to do, even if they are right. Same thing happens when you tell people what to do. The resistance to being told what to do resides at both a conscious and below-conscious level.

Help other people be right

While we resist ideas from outside ourselves, we readily accept our own rationale. Therefore, instead of wanting to take credit for a great idea or waiting for the opportunity to say, “I told you so,” why not help other people come to the conclusion for themselves?

There are three primary ways to help other people think through situations for themselves and come to the best solution. Using these tools will help you become a more influential person both at work and at home.

  1. Ask questions – When you use open ended questions like How, What, Tell me about… it forces the other person to think and respond. That thinking process helps the other person take ownership of the idea.
  2. Tell stories – When you hear, see or read a story, you actually immerse yourself in the story. The saying “Selling is Storytelling” is quite accurate because as the other person inserts themselves into your story, they begin to own the idea for themselves.
  3. Use powerful words – When you ask someone to do something, always give them a reason. By inserting the word ‘because’ and giving a reason, you increase the compliance by up to 50% over not giving them a reason. Eliminate the word ‘but’ from your vocabulary. When you use the word ‘but’ you are telling the other person that what they just said is wrong and what you’re about to say is right. Instead use the word ‘and’ to join your thought to theirs. That way the thought becomes theirs and they will act on it more readily.

When you become more persuasive and influential you can smile to yourself knowing that you had the great idea to begin with and feel good knowing that the other person is more committed to taking the desired action.

Reflection Questions

Is it overly important for you to be seen as being right? Do other people do what you want willingly or do they passively or actively resist your ideas, requests and initiatives?

Action Items

  • Realize that greater success can be achieved when other people think an idea is theirs even if you helped them discover the idea for themselves.
  • Become an expert question asker and story teller, knowing that these techniques help other people grasp your ideas with greater ease.
  • Give people a reason to do what you suggest and instead of arguing, join your ideas to theirs to give them a sense of ownership.

If you are curious about how to become more persuasive and influential, check out our Persuasive and Influential Leadership course with Dr. Peter DeShane on Feb 10th, 2010.  A live workshop and a self-study program is available.