10 Ways to Avoid the “Rightness” Trap

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Author’s Note:  This post was written based on the collective responses to last week’s post.

10 Ways to Avoid the “Rightness” Trap

There were quite a few responses to last week’s post. The question Is Needing to Be “Right” Unethical? seemed to strike a chord with readers. These are just 10 of the themes raised by readers in their comment.  Collectively, these themes represent 10 ways to avoid falling into the “rightness” trap.

  1. An abundance philosophy – it helps us listen to others without needing to argue our points forcefully. It makes us more likely to seek a win-win solution. A scarcity mentality tends to cause us to see a disagreement as a win-lose situation, where we have to win.
  2. A  learner approach  – it helps us see that other people have good points too. A judger approach is more likely to cause us to see what is wrong with what the other person is saying.
  3. Awareness of our ego – it helps us realize that even though we get some satisfaction from being “right,” that does not mean that we should indulge our need to be right.
  4. Awareness of our mindset – thinking about how we developed our mindset, and the limitations and flaws in that mindset can help us step back when we think we need to be right.
  5. Our curiosity – using it helps us be open to listening to what people are saying from all perspectives.
  6. Our humility – it helps us be willing to admit when we are wrong (or when someone else’s idea is better).
  7. Our respect for others – this helps us remember that our need to be right shouldn’t cause us to treat others in a disrespectful way.
  8. Awareness that “reality” and “truth” are perceived differently – since people define these concepts in many different ways, our curiosity helps us explore how other people define them.
  9. Our good communication skills – they help us express ourselves calmly and respectfully.
  10. Our respect for differences – it helps us remember that other people have opinions, that their opinions will not  always match ours, and that we do not need to perceive these differences as a threat.

Thank you to the many people who commented. Your comments helped shape the discussion in ways that help us all learn. Feel free to suggest additions to this list!

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For more, see new book 7 Lenses and the 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014 Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
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© 2012 Leading in Context LLC 

About Linda Fisher Thornton
Linda Fisher Thornton is Founder and CEO of Leading in Context, and author of the award-winning book 7 Lenses. She teaches as Adjunct Assoc. Prof. for University of Richmond SPCS. She is leading a movement to help leaders and organizations Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership.

2 Responses to 10 Ways to Avoid the “Rightness” Trap

  1. David Steare says:

    The problem, Linda, with your list is that is looks ‘right’, and of course, my comments may also appear ‘right’.

  2. Rodney W says:

    I think the wanting to always “be right” trap is developed from the mindset of an argumentative educational style where the better debater or the loudest voice sometimes win out. The counter is a non-western approach in learning and leadership in that the truth needs very little support or argument. It is what it is, end of debate.

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