We don’t have to be right.
Reading this, my husband, kids, and siblings will all laugh, because erm, (mumbling) I like to be right.
I love a good intellectual argument, and I love being right. Do you like to be right?
Liking arguing my case and winning you over (or just winning the point) are probably why I wanted to be a lawyer when I was younger.
Today I wonder if I would ever have learned how to stop if I had taken that path.
Why am I saying all of this?
Because I love being right, and when someone is saying something that isn’t true, I’ll dive into it and defend the truth.
No fear of conflict when my value of honesty and truth are on the line.
Yet the other day I didn’t dive in. I didn’t explain or defend my truth at all.
Even though the other person claimed my work has no scientific basis, and some of the tools I use were made up.
Honestly, I’m still surprised at myself at what I did instead.
Instead of jumping in to show how they were wrong, present the evidence etc, I listened.
I listened with respect at what they had to say.
I acknowledged their thoughts and feelings “this sounds awful, and I can see why you wouldn’t want to do this”.
I apologised. There was a point of info where I had been unclear so I apologised for the lack of clarity.
I kept my calm, all the way through.
And I’m still human, so as soon as the conversation ended, I put my head in my hands and breathed a huge sigh.
My inner judge had a few things to say about them and the situation. My hyper-achiever started a long list of things I should have done better to prevent this ever happening in the first place (my hyper-achiever does like to be perfect, and goes as far as wanting to anticipate all disasters and prevent them).
So I took a few more heavy breaths.
And fortunately later that day I had a call with my coach planned so I talked it through with her too.
What it came down to.
And when I look at the bottom line of what I did in that conversation, it’s this: I didn’t need to be right.
Again, I honestly think that in that situation I was mostly right and they were mostly wrong, but it didn’t matter in that moment.
That moment was for them to speak and be heard. Full stop.
There may be a moment for me to have my say in the future. I know for sure that I have greatly increased the likelihood of me getting that chance to speak, and to be heard, by listening now.
It’s a lesson that has taken me years to learn, but it’s liberating.
You don’t have to be right.
This is part of my Thought Piece Series, where I explore topics related to leadership and provide both answers and questions. My intention is to start meaningful conversations that help us move forward. Want to connect? Click here.