I Don’t Need to be Right

In my workshops on communication, I often talk about the power of listening. It has the power to influence, it gives us the ability to learn and it allows us to connect and persuade others. I was inspired by a TEDx talk by a Columnist Ronnie Polaneczky. In it, she adds a component or at least describes it better than I have.

In addition to all the tips and tricks- eye contact, paraphrasing, taking a note, asking questions and so on, she adds, “drop the need to be right.” Wow, how often has this been in the way of a good conversation?

I say this as a man who was raised to be right. I had to know the answer. And this gets in the way of genuine listening. Think some others on the world stage could drop the need to be right?  

If you need to be right, you come into the conversation with a point of view and it is fixed. Everything you hear from this point forward is filtered by “your right answer.”  To the point where you really am not listening, you am just waiting my turn to prove to you that you am right and if you are right that means they must be wrong.

Over the last four years through a lot of work, some good friends calling me out, and not letting it pass, I am proud to declare I am in recovery as “The Expert.” In part because I have embraced the idea of listening without the need to be right. It was and continues to be HARD to do.

The first step is becoming aware of your tendency to try to prove your point of view when presented with information that does not align with your beliefs. For me, I notice it when I want to pull out pen and paper to start drafting my response to what the other person is saying without really listening to what they are saying. It is more about what I want to say.

Once we are aware that we are in “being right” mode, we can slow down and open our mind and get curious. What are they really saying? What is the message behind the words? Can we listen and even perhaps disagree without judgment?

I was having a conversation with a colleague recently who is of a different political persuasion than me. He was telling me all the reasons why his side was right. And, I had all of the reasons why it was wrong. But, I got curious. I asked some questions. The reality is that there are some things that he believes that I too believe. We were able to find common ground. We each have a different filter through which we view and a different internal stance if you will. But by listening without having to prove that I was right, I was able to learn more, to build some sympathy for and develop a deeper relationship with someone who is now more than a colleague.

Our need to be right has turned a nation that was built on vigorous conversation into a nation of broadcasters. Many of us are no longer in a dialog. We are in dueling monologues. Slow down, open your mind and have a good conversation. You will be surprised at the outcome.

If you would like to watch Ronnie’s video here is a link  


If you would like to learn more about how your communications, (With yourself and others) impacts your success, let’s have a conversation – John@johngies.com


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