The Hidden Cost of Being Right

In the results-oriented environment of business today, most communication is oriented towards agree/disagree, win/lose, right/wrong. The person who is best able to dominate with their idea or opposing idea is often the ‘winner’. However, this automatic dynamic creates conflict and resistance. It often slows down the very progress that most people are trying to make.

How often have you been in a meeting where all is going smoothly until you hit that ‘pothole’? The point in the conversation where someone pushes back on what is being proposed. The discussion moves into a point/counterpoint, where both ‘sides’ try to convince the other of the rightness of their point of view.

This is a pivot point in the conversation. It can turn into a co-creative dialogue: where the conversation opens new possibilities that couldn’t have been seen without the sharing of both sides. Innovation can occur here.

But, more often than not, the discussion becomes polarized, people take positions, and points of view become hardened. Factions form, and a version of winners and losers gets created around the issue. This scenario makes for a conflict-ridden workplace, and it also leads to a lot of sabotage and underground work-arounds.

Nobody likes working in this kind of environment

So how do we turn conversation into a more co-creative dialogue? One that validates opposing points of view, and then also invites exploration of other options? How do we expand from duality into a third dimension?

The way in to this third dimension is ‘witnessing’. This is an ability to not only participate in speaking and listening, but to also in real time witness yourself in the engagement. It means listening not only to what is being said “outside” in the conversation, but also what is happening on the ‘inside’ – inside of you.

This capacity for witnessing requires a level of awareness that goes beyond transaction. This awareness, when brought to communication, opens receptivity and generosity among parties. It allows us to see our internal biases and filters that may be getting in the way of really hearing what another is saying or contributing.

When you connect to your inner witness (or third dimension), things open up. You access your deeper intelligence and capacity.

You become more present

New possibilities can be seen and explored. The ‘stuckness’ we often feel in a polarizing discussion dissipates, and the field of communication and relationship expands.

When caught in duality, it takes courage, self-awareness and compassion to introduce that third dimension. It takes a willingness to trust the space between the two ‘rights’, to find a third option that moves things forward and to re-establish connection and action.

In the heat of the moment, this deliberate practice of ‘going inward’ will feel like you have slowed down. It will feel like you left the conversation to look inside. You will likely feel some resistance – “I don’t have time for this!”

But in fact, when caught in the duality of a transactional conversation, you are probably stopped anyway. Even if you leave the discussion, chances are that no forward motion can happen until you reconvene and try to have a more constructive conversation.

Staying in the duality will allow you to be right. But if you are stuck in the same old pattern, being right isn’t likely going to get you out of it. You may be right, but you also may be stalled. And it most certainly will not restore the level of relationship and connection that makes our daily work and interactions meaningful, rewarding and, perhaps most-important, productive.

So how do you put this into practice?

The next time you are in a situation where people are taking a point-counter-point position and progress is grinding to a halt, call a ‘time out’. Step back and discuss what is happening. Acknowledge the validity of both perspectives, and then ask the questions: “What else is possible here? What are we missing?”

Be prepared to be surprised

Collectively, you will likely see something that hasn’t been explored yet. It could make a big difference in how you move forward. As you continue with this practice, you may learn to be more suspicious of being right. Because often, our attachment to being right can actually shut down forward motion.

Can your team and leaders can benefit from the Trilogy Effect? Call us today at 1-613-406-5834 or connect here.