Give Up your Need to be Right All the Time

Through the Fulfilled Self Program that we launched this year for Chinese women in partnership with UEnjoy Club, we’ve seen the first cohort of women open up, give and receive feedback, and take meaningful action in their lives. One of the six sessions of the peer coaching program focuses on managing, assessing and growing personal and professional relationships. One topic we discussed in depth in the women-only peer groups was about the need to be right all the time, and how detrimental that can be to having healthy relationships.

Take the following example:

Karen was going on a business trip with three of her colleagues from Shanghai to Beijing. In the planning of the trip, Karen suggested that they take the speed train instead of a plane due to frequent flight delays caused from foggy weather and air traffic control. Her colleagues disagreed – the price of flying and taking the train was about the same, but they argued two hours was far better than the six-hour speed train ride. They met at the airport, and the flight was delayed indefinitely. “Haha!” Karen shouted “I knew it would happen!” They waited and waited, the whole time Karen was reminding others that had they taken the train they would have arrived already. Eventually the plane was cancelled and they had to reschedule for the following day. Karen refused to call the client to relay the message – “It’s your fault” she told her colleagues, “You do it.”

In this case, Karen was certainly “right” about the situation they were in. She had the benefit of feeling proud about being right. But that’s the only true benefit she had. And there are costs: not only did she make the time spent at the airport miserable for her colleagues (and herself), she damaged the relationship with them. On top of that she’ll have even less ability to influence them in future discussions.

Our brains subconsciously find evidence to support the theories and ideas we have.  However, just like the example above, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s always helpful or constructive. We get so caught up in finding evidence to support our position that we can often miss the bigger picture. Of course there are many situations where speaking up and defending your point of view are important. But we need to ask ourselves – am Ibringing this up just to enjoy the feeling of being  right or is there a genuine opportunity to make constructive change?

Think about a situation where you’ve been “right.” It could have been about an incident where – “I knew that was going to happen” (like above), or it could also have been about a person where -  “I knew he would make a mistake .”  Think about the situation and assess the outcome.  What was the specific cost?

People who have to be right all the time inadvertently push others away. Catch yourself next time by asking what the benefit and cost will be to the situation and to the relationship.   You may find that many times, it’s much better to be kind than to be right.

In addition to becoming more aware about the cost of letting others know that you’re right, the women in the Fulfilled Self program are taking steps to manage, assess and grow relationships in other key ways as well by:

Being present with people- That doesn’t just mean being in the company of others, it means being 100% focused on the person you’re talking to. We’ve all had interactions with people who have seem distracted – they’re looking around, they’re on their phones, looking down, they’re physically there but they are not mentally engaging with you. Being present for even 15 minutes a day with the important people in your life can have incredible results in the quality of relationships. Being present makes people feel heard, feel important, and feel loved.

Cutting out the added drama in life – We all make movie dramas in our heads that are rife with all kinds of emotions and our imaginations running wild. Women in the program learn to challenge their assumptions in relationships and to get out of the movies in their heads and back into real life where they can look at situations from different perspectives and make decisions that support the kind of relationships and lifestyles they want.

Being surrounded by positive people– This is a simple recipe to a happier, healthier life. Positive energy is contagious. Positive people see possibility, look for opportunities to lead engaging lives,  and fuel themselves and others with positive energy . People with positivity in their lives live up to 10 years longer than others. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true – negative energy is contagious. Thousands of studies have shown that negative emotions are highly destructive to the mind and body. Surround yourself with positive people, life is too short! 

Posted on May 15, 2015 .