As a career and business coach, my clients and I talk a lot about conflict management and resolution. Let’s face it, flowing through challenges and obstacles within the workforce is a natural part of working with other people. Obviously, people aren’t always going to hold the same perspectives as our own, and this is actually a good thing for the sake of creativity and innovation.
Just imagine, if everyone always agreed on everything, there would be little inspiration for people and their organizations to evolve or grow. And, when the process of growth is stifled, then it’s virtually impossible for anyone or anything to profit. For this reason, varying perspectives presented in our lives, whether at work or elsewhere, present the greatest opportunities for us to expand our vantage points and infuse our thinking with heightened awareness, so that we can make the best decisions for ourselves, and on behalf of our organizations.
So, how can we make the most optimal use of the varying perspectives that are presented to us at work and within our daily lives? The simple answer is this – let go of your need to be right, which also includes the obsessive habit to constantly seek-out everything that you believe is “wrong.” In my view, the following are the six biggest reasons that right vs. wrong thinking can blind you from opportunity and success. Get ready, I’m about to get all philosophical on you : )…
1) Disconnection From Intrinsic Goodness:
The need to be right all of the time is a habit that blinds us from the truth. The truth is that we were all born from the purest state of goodness. Whether a person ended up becoming a Nobel Peace Prize winner or a serial ax murderer as an adult, this purity in goodness was completely equal at the time of birth. Individual perspectives developed from birth onwards are the only things that separate us from a unified source of good.
In fact, we are all much more connected to each other than we often give credit or want to admit. Who’s to say that we all couldn’t have accomplished the very same things as the next person, Nobel Peace Prize winner or serial ax murderer alike, had we lived through the exact same set of life circumstances?
Our life experiences hold an immense amount of validity because they are the only perceived outcomes we have that validate our own thinking. With this in mind, it’s important to remember that the life experiences of others carry just as much weight on their thinking, as our life experiences influence our own. In this case, both sets of experiences are equally valid, which makes it very hard to argue that one person is any more “right” than another.
2) Discrediting Meaningful Perspectives of Others:
Just like us, everyone else is simply responding and navigating through a different life experience that seems to validate their own points-of-view. So, as mentioned before, in everyone’s own eyes, they are doing what’s “right” for themselves, based on whatever limited knowledge they have at the time. So, wouldn’t this mean that you are always right and everyone else is wrong : )? Of course not! When it comes to universal or collective truth, it seems impossible for anyone to be “right” or “wrong,” simply because they are operating from a vantage point that is rooted within their own perspectives, and let’s face it, human perspectives are fallible.
What I may see as “blue,” others could see as “black,” and that doesn’t make either vision any less real to each individual. Likewise, it seems like everybody is simply doing their best to discern choices for themselves that coincide with their own life experiences. While this may cause someone to choose things that others will oppose, it doesn’t make anyone more or less right OR wrong.
People who operate from a hard line of right vs. wrong tend to stress themselves out, and in the process, drain the energy of everyone else around them. People like this are incredibly tough to work with because they are more concerned about proving themselves, than getting to the most beneficial solution for the greater good. And, in behaving this way, they isolate themselves from innovative thinking, as well as from healthy dialogue with others, due to everyone around them shutting down. The result is limited decision-making power created by a narrow vantage point, simply because those around them aren’t comfortable sharing their perspectives. Limited access to shared knowledge presents an obvious disadvantage for leaders within any organization.
The more we allow our thoughts to blind us with labels of “right,” the more we isolate ourselves from the collective consciousness, which is where infinite perspectives reside that hold the keys to an infinite number of solutions. Blocking ourselves from this powerful resource only keeps us small and operating within the same sphere of problems, instead of allowing ourselves to think outside of what we already know, and achieve a clearer path to creative solutions. By accessing this space, opportunities and solutions come to us more freely because we are open to noticing them! Simply put, by sitting within the exclusive shadow of what we already know, there’s little room for us to develop new opportunities, or to reconcile our differences with the world outside of our own heads.
4) Draining You Into The Stress of Problems:
It is so much less stressful to release the need to be right and proving others wrong. Your decisions will never be viewed as right by everyone, at all times. So, rather than draining yourself by pointing fingers and blaming others for not agreeing with you, or getting frustrated when things don’t meet your expectations, why not loosen-up your thinking and remember that the perspectives shared by others have been validated with the same equal weight of life experience as your own?
Other people deserve a sincere benefit of the doubt that the origin of their beliefs have reasonably validated their choices, whether those choices align with yours or not. And of course, nobody’s way to an end point is the only way, nor the best way, just as your own belief system offers only one of many options too. It gets back to the old adage that “just because it’s your way, doesn’t mean it’s the right way.”
5) The Illusion That We Can Control What Others Think, Say or Do:
At the end of the day, we cannot control the way others think. So why even try? Why not just accept that other people live within their own set of expectations that are likely to be very different from yours, and work towards a mutual understanding of each other’s intentions, in order to get to a resolution more efficiently and effectively?
Does this mean it’s best to just shut down and not express your point-of-view, or to agree with everything that another person says? Quiet the opposite. Because your opinions were created from an equal space of validating life experiences, your perspectives matter just as much as the next person’s. So, other people deserve the benefit of hearing your thoughts to gain a better understanding of where you are coming from. This is actually the only way they will ever achieve any amount of success in terms of aligning with your “expectations.” If you are unwilling to let people know where you stand, then how could they ever align with you?
Likewise, if you take the time to understand where others are coming from, versus trying to control their opinions or actions, you will spare yourself a lot of headache and heartache when it comes to living through misaligned partnerships and relationships. Just think how much better your hiring, management, heck, even dating skills would be if you afforded yourself exposure to varying perspectives from the onset, without judgment of right vs. wrong, so that you could immediately discerned alignment.
The alternative is to intimidate or demand agreement with your definition of “right,” only to learn about hidden reservations later, and often by the time it’s too late – the campaign has launched, the hire was made, the investment was spent, or time has already been lost.
6) Limiting Your Own Knowledge:
The key to all of this is that the most creative and thoughtful solutions come from spaces where the clearest picture is accessed, and the clearest picture is gained from a true understanding and acceptance of various viewpoints. Once opposing thoughts are reconciled, conflicts begin to dissipate, and instead, transcend into the realm of real growth opportunities, where new knowledge is acquired.
We’ve all heard the saying that knowledge is power. Allowing yourself to learn something new aids in your ability to impact your own circumstances and influence others, and yes, that’s powerful. But if we are dead set on living the rest of our days painting the world as black or white, good or bad, right or wrong, then we only limit ourselves from experiencing our natural connection to the truth of our own goodness, and to that of everyone around us. Remember, the space of good intention and truth is a space of enormous creativity, where the greatest solutions reside!
In the end, we keep ourselves small and fearful when we choose to live inside an isolated cave of right or wrong judgments. We stay more focused on keeping our egos right and blaming others for what’s wrong, versus seeking answers and creating win-win solutions. The truth is that nothing can ever be perfectly right or perfectly wrong, so rather than obsessing over making yourself right or proving others wrong, or holding back in fear of doing or saying something wrong, why not just relieve yourself of all of that stress and aggravation, and begin to connect with the world and its endless possibilities? New answers will never come to you when you’re already certain you’ve got the answers, and at the same time, answers are only abundant to those who remain open to receiving them.
So, what do I tell clients who are glued to the idea that there are clear “rights” and clear “wrongs” within their business settings (and, usually that’s attached to an “I’m right and they are wrong” mentality ; ))? All I can offer is this. Why not try to confidently open yourself up to opposition, rather than resisting it? It’s clear that others aren’t always going to see things the same way you do, and it’s so much less stressful to respect and accept this as a basic truth, so you are less rattled by people, not if but when, they disagree with you.
When people seem to oppose you, why not just flow with it and allow yourself to explore some new currents of thought and see where it leads you? When you do, I’m willing to bet that conflicts won’t seem nearly as frustrating – in fact, you might have to come-up with a new word for “conflict” all together, not to mention, you will begin to welcome challenging points-of-view as opportunities to work collectively towards a more creative solution, or at minimum, help you discern a more favorable outcome for everyone involved.
In fact, you may even begin to view “conflicts” as golden opportunities to facilitate your own personal development, not to mention, a far greater connection to this thing called life. So, right or wrong? In the eyes of the collective consciousness, it seems you are always right, and at the same time, always wrong. Meaning you are also never perfectly right and never perfectly wrong – your judgment of such is really just a self-created illusion, and there’s a big and interesting world that exists outside of our own darn noggin! Get out of your own way.
So, relax already – there’s nothing for you to get right or wrong! At the end of the day, all that really matters is accessing your space of pure goodness, while communicating your truth, and at the same time, giving others the space to connect and communicate with theirs. When this happens, the current of ideas and progress will flow more freely towards success.