Looking back over the first two-thirds of 2019, we at DRIVEN have explored the various propensities and afflictions faced by professionals, and have considered how and why to release them. Many of these we can readily admit to, like harboring perfectionistic tendencies or enabling the control freak within who refuses to delegate or set boundaries. Then there’s the outlook of “no one can do it BUT me”, which is almost macho, and reminds of the “I work 80 hours a week” attitude, assuming that this is what it takes to succeed.
Many of us could even concede to times when we were resistant to new ideas, new plans, and change in general. Thus, a word of caution: This month’s release may be a bit more difficult to fess up to. The “desire to be right”, or as my Conversational Intelligence® mentor Judith E Glaser labeled it— the “addiction to being right”, brings to mind a workplace tyrant, a table pounder, an irrational screamer, a stubborn, spoiled brat digging their heels in and tantruming. But hasn’t that tyrant been many of us at some point?
Are YOU Addicted to Being Right?
Ask yourself these questions to gauge where you are on the “Addicted to Being Right Spectrum”. For personal reference, give yourself a rating of 1 to 5 for each question, where 1 equals a resounding “No, that’s most definitely not me” and 5 equals “Wow! That question was composed with me in mind!”:
-Does your idea of listening consist of waiting until the other person stops talking so you can say what’s on your mind?
-Do you put pressure on yourself to walk into situations with all the answers because of your title?
-Do you find yourself arguing with colleagues for the sake of arguing, with no particular point to be made, and can’t seem to back down?
-Do you often find yourself absolutely certain of an answer or path ahead, only to discover later that you were totally off-base?
-In today’s contentious political climate, do you quickly judge someone negatively for being of the opposite political persuasion?
Taking the challenge to relax your own tendency towards being right is an admirable aspiration. The re-lease to this need is to employ and enjoy perspective and curiosity. Of course, this all starts with self-awareness, which, as I often admit, is easy to recommend but difficult to embody. I encourage you to try it nonetheless, for this release opens those “blackout shades” you’ve been accustomed to living behind, revealing to you a fascinating and gratifying world.
It’s In Our DNA!
In high-stress situations, the amygdala (our instinctive brain) takes over and creates the “fight or flight” response. Judith E Glaser explains why so many choose to fight:
“When you argue and win, your brain floods with different hormones— adrenaline and dopamine, which makes you feel good, dominant, even invincible.”
You and I have been encouraged to let this happen to us in the business realm. This “dog-eat-dog-world attitude” is old-school management— what we used to think of as good leadership. It’s what Judith E Glaser tagged the “Tell-Sell-Yell Syndrome”:
“Tell them once, try to sell them on the reason you’re right, then yell! When we’re in this posture, we are seeking to gain power over others, and that brain progression doesn’t allow for seeing another’s point of view.”
Plus, this approach does nothing to entice the other to see your
point of view! They close down with each advancement of your desperation to be heard and understood. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle that gets you nowhere but frustrated, discouraged, and occasionally defensive and angry! The cost is a negative outlook and overload of judgment, and can start that primitive part of the brain working overtime! It also continues to trigger to need
to be right. And we don’t even realize we’re doing it!
Over the next two articles, we’ll look at each of the scenarios mentioned above, with the goal of raising your awareness and then recognizing how to release your impulse, tendency or unconscious inclination to always be right. But to prepare, practice some self-compassion and recognize that this impulse is instinctual and happens to all of us. It’s just how we’re programmed!
Related: “It’s My Way or the Highway”: When to Release Control