Be Right or Be Quiet?

If given the choice, which would you prefer: To prove you are right or to keep quiet? When phrased that way, we may opt to keep our mouths closed. In practice however, many of us don’t realize how strong the habitual need to be right is.

When our colleague shares information on a new software program that could help us with a project but its’s one that we are already familiar with, do we say, “I already know about it,” or “Thanks for letting me know”?What are we proving when we say we already know about the software? How different would the impact be if we acknowledged our colleague’s thoughtfulness without the need to show we are already ahead of him/her?

Being achievement oriented is a positive habit. If left unchecked, it can turn counterproductive leading to a “win at all costs” attitude. When we become blind to our need to be right, to win and to be one step ahead- we risk undermining our success and ultimately our happiness.

What is the impact of this on our professional and personal relationships?

On major issues of importance, it’s justified to argue for what we believe to be right. The right choice, the right solution, the right person for the job, etc. When being right becomes our default attitude; when we lose awareness and every hand we play must be a winning hand, we damage the very relationships that we depend on to succeed.

Soon, we may find that by habitually having to be right, we end up alone, unsupported and minus the very people we want to have in our lives. How we treat people can be just as important, if not more important, then all the knowledge in the world.

If we notice this tendency in ourselves, what can we do? As soon as we feel the urge to answer quickly:

Pause and take a breath.

Ask ourselves if what we are about to say adds any value.

If it does, go for it. If not, stay silent, smile or say something encouraging or supportive.

Try this about 10 times. Then let me know how strong that urge is to speak is….

Developing healthy, productive habits is a good thing. Dissolving destructive ones is even better.

Have you taken a look at your habits today?


5 minute action item – How aware of are you of your need to be right? You may not have it in every area of your life, but is there one area where you do? How is that helping you succeed or be happy? Take a few minutes to write your observations. Habits are the foundation of our lives. The habitual ways we behave, think and speak are forming our future at this very moment. How is the need to be right shaping your future? Write a few lines about what your life will be like 10 years from now if you continue needing to prove you are right.





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