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When Being Right Doesn’t Work

My name is Tony. And I’m extremely stubborn.

My name is Tony. And I’m extremely stubborn.

Despite being stubborn, I love to make people feel happier, more confident, and have a better understanding of themselves. In order to have this understanding, it helps to understand others. Which means, if I want to help people in this area, I must do the same. So I’m working on this whole “stubborn” thing and focusing on how to listen better - particularly when I don’t want to.

It’s a work in progress, to say the least.

I recently reported to work an event at a retail store. I’ve been to the store several times and am aware of their policies and procedures. One of said policies includes, “Ask a manager to check your bag before leaving the store (because clearly you might have stolen something and if you did, you should tell us.)” Given my stubbornness, contempt for corporate policies, plus my eagerness to get the hell out….I didn’t follow it that day. Or the day before. Or the day before that. In fact, there were so many days when management would wave me through the door without asking to look in my bag, I thought they had stopped caring. But this one particular day they decided to remember the procedure and call me out on it. I was reprimanded. In a harsh tone…..and I didn’t like it. (Sidenote: I hadn’t stolen anything. In fact, I’ve made several purchases at their store before and after my shifts.)

At the same time, they were right. This was procedure. Even if they chose not to follow it the last 700 times, they had a right to call me out on it that one time. Which brings up this point: Even if you’re “right” - the tone you choose to use can make you “wrong.”


-If you get charged an extra dollar for your latte and start screaming at the barista that you paid too much, technically you’re right.
-If you’re at a baseball game and the umpire makes an incorrect call, causing you to yell at him while pointing out that he is also overweight, technically you’d be right.
-If you spend all day waiting for the internet provider to fix your wifi, only to be stood up, causing you to yell and scream and their customer service for skipping on their appointment, technically you’d be right.  

But are you really right if your words aren harsh and your message isn’t understood?

Sure. Your listener hears you. But they’re not listening to understand. They’re listening because you’re being a dick and they have no other choice.

The store management was right. But I didn’t want to listen. In my stubborn mind….they were wrong.

“But you were just being stubborn! Shouldn’t you just learn to listen better?”

….shouldn’t we all?

Let’s be clear here - we are all stubborn. We all have rules in our heads about what is and isn’t right. We all tune people out because we don’t want to hear an alternative point. Can you imagine how much more relaxed we might be if we took an approach of sharing messages to understand one another instead of attacking? Or how much kinder we’d be to each other if we took an approach to listen to understand versus waiting our turn to respond?

Clearly, this is something I need to work on more. I’m guessing you might be too. I hope you’ll join me.

Let’s go get ‘em, friends.

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