Why is it so important to be right?




“I’ve been seeing it a certain way all along, and I never even considered it could be viewed in a different way.”


This was the mic-drop moment in my session today with Marie*. And it was the moment when weeks of work actually started to come together to help her shift her mindset.


See, Marie suffers from an extreme need to be right. She believes that she’s the one who has rigorously thought through all of the facets of a complicated problem and has the perfect solution. She is a big-picture thinker who runs everything through a strategic filter.


So when she shows up at the table with someone who is more powerful than her and won’t consider her POV, who makes decisions seemingly irrespective of her thoughtful analysis and spot-on solution, and then those decisions impact her, her team, and possibly even her customers, she shuts down.


She becomes disgruntled. Demotivated. Even a little resentful. 


And that makes a ton of sense, because what’s really going on is that she is tying all of her value and self worth to her “rightness” in these situations.


If Marie's solution isn’t accepted as the right one, then to her, it means she isn’t valued. Or it means she hasn’t done a good enough job of conveying the value of her solution so that it’s accepted as the right one.


Either way, she takes it to mean she’s not good enough.


Can you see that her need to be right is actually getting in her way of being effective? Can you also see that this need to be right is ultimately going to result in her being labeled as “difficult,” “inflexible,” maybe even a “bully”?


Can you? Sometimes it’s easier to see these things when you’re looking at them objectively than when you’re in the vortex yourself.


Here’s the thing. Her solution may actually be the best one. But her approach shuts people down before she can get her idea across the finish line. Her sense that she’s the only one who is right will effectively dismantle collaboration.


And the truth is, way deep down, behind all her research and rigorous thought processes, there’s really a deep-seeded notion that she has to prove her value to others.


If she believes that the only way she can be seen as valuable is for her ideas and solutions to be accepted, then it makes sense she’ll always dig in her heels to force her point of view. And then walk away wounded if she doesn’t succeed.