Being told that you’re wrong is VERY hard to hear. Being told you’re wrong over and over again is even harder to put up with. After a while, you have a tendency to believe that people are right, and you begin to doubt yourself. This can lead to poor performance, anxiety, depression, and a whole host of other problems.
But what can you do about it? How should you be reacting when people are always telling you that you’re wrong?
I find myself in this situation about as often as you’d expect. I work with opinionated people who have no problem voicing their thoughts and telling me that I’m wrong. Sure, I don’t always handle it appropriately (who can avoid getting angry or snapping back every once in a while), but here’s how I would react (in a perfect world):
Take the Emotions Out
When someone is telling me that I am wrong, there is always the temptation to treat it like a personal attack against ME and not what I think or say. It’s an incredibly hard saying, but I fight to not take it personally. They may have nothing against me as a person, but they are calling my idea or thought process into question. If I can remove the emotions, it’s easier to think straight.
Watch Your Response
In my case, my first reaction when being told I am wrong is to lash out at the person, get defensive or get argumentative. But that is rarely productive. Instead, I’m fighting to control the way I respond or react to being told I am wrong. Instead of getting huffy, angry, confrontational or defensive, I take a deep breath, uncross my arms, and force my shoulders to relax. This simple gesture helps to fix my body language and subconsciously helps me to relax.
Be Willing to Be Wrong
This is an even harder saying, but I find that it’s the key to successful communication. When someone tells me that I am wrong, I fight my immediate reaction to tell them all the ways that I am right. Instead, I force myself to think "Why are they saying that? Could there actually be something wrong?" Chances are there really is something wrong with the idea or proposal. And, because I thought of it logically instead of just reacting poorly, that questioning of my judgment leads to better decisions in the long run.
Opinion vs. Fact
When someone calls my opinion into question, it’s much more difficult to legislate righteousness and say who is right or wrong. In these cases, I find that it’s usually easier to agree to disagree, and move on. But when there are facts that are being called into question, that’s when I need to think "Am I wrong?" and do some research into it.
Let it Go
So people are telling you that you’re wrong; it sucks, it’s hard to hear, and it can even be annoying, but you have to just let it go. If you know that you’re right – you’ve done the research and you’ve examined it from every angle – you can cling to that fact. Your coworkers’ opinions can just roll right off your back because you know that you are right.
It’s never easy to hear that you are wrong, but the way you react is of VITAL importance. I react poorly all the time (as you do, no doubt), but knowing how to react the right way will help you to at least strive for the correct reactions.
How do you handle this situation? Leave us a comment and let us know…