Being Effective vs. Being Right – 4 Ways to Navigate So Everyone Wins

From politicians on the left versus the right, to the team leaders tasked with trimming budgets, and those stubborn relatives at family reunions… today’s interactions are loaded with tense conflict. The resolutions, however, are less about winning or being “right” and more about being effective communicators.

Consider the value of being right versus being effective. Is being right or winning the argument worth it at all costs? Or, is there greater potential for success for everyone if we are more focused on effective communication and collaboration?

In today’s fiery, strife-filled interactions, here are 4 ways to navigate debates and divergences using candor:

Cultivate genuine compassion. Extend empathy toward the other person(s) and their situation. Find an appreciation for their perspective. Although you may not agree, they’re not necessarily wrong, either.

Be inquisitive. Ask open questions to formulate a clear understanding. Strive to learn not just the “what” but also the “why” and the “how.”

Listen carefully to understand (not to respond). Do you find yourself interrupting or tuning the other person out to think ahead to what you want to say? Correct the habit – listen intently to gain a better understanding. Then, pause before you offer a response or follow up with an additional question. Aim to walk away with new information that is helpful to a resolution.

Speak respectfully. Be wary of language that is condescending or dismissive. Choose your words carefully and calmly. Offer a response that builds up rather than tears down.

When we shift from an approach that is rooted in accusations, blame, and defensiveness to an inquisitive and collaborative mindset, we often arrive at a win-win solution. When we practice candor—honesty, directness, respectfulness—in our discourse, we set the example for everyone else engaged in the conversation.

Author and activist Anne Lamott is credited with saying, “You can either practice being right or practice being kind.” My coaching question has often been, “Would you rather be right or effective?”  The winning outcome is less about one side or the other being right, and entirely about both sides being effective and kind.

First featured on Forbesbooks.com