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Smash the Silos Series #3

Drop the Need to be Right!


We're addicted to being right.  It's in our DNA, a driving force in our thirst to learn and to achieve success.  Our brains give us a rush of dopamine when we are right - 'See!' our brain shouts out as it provides us with a surge of the feel good chemical - 'I'm right and it feels GOOD!'  If we have got into a strong pattern of receiving this rush, we can also experience strong feelings of frustration and even anger when we don't get it.

Trouble is, when our need to be right overrides everyone else's, we head into territory that is about win at all costs and is detrimental on many levels to trust, collaboration and creativity.  It is the killer to people feeling that working with us is worth it - why try to work with someone who always thinks they are right? One or two voices dominate and 'win' and everyone else keeps very, very quiet - it's safer that way.  A room full of people with this approach can end up with something akin to an angry standoff - no one willing to listen to anyone else, and a threatening environment enveloping the room.

Collaboration needs us to drop our addiction to being right.  We need authentic dialogue that dives into the diversity of thought in the room and celebrates it rather than shuts it down. The more we can self-regulate our need to be right, the more can recode our brain to have different responses.  We lose the fears of: losing power; looking stupid; failing and can teach our brain to find other ways to get our 'hit' of feel good chemicals - through things such as: connection,  creating something new, building trust, valuing others, and learning.

It also means that other people in the room are feeling better themselves - the culture becomes one where opinions count and people are valued. The dialogue becomes one of authenticity rather than power.  Innovation and creativity is more likely to occur because of the lack of micro-management and control.  Most of all - we build a culture of trust - and when we have that, anything is possible.

If you know that your need to be right can sometimes override your brain and the way you behave, here are some suggestions for next time the 'need to be right' rises strongly.   A few steps that can teach your brain to step into a space of trust, collaboration and creation:

PAUSE -  Take a inward breath and increase your awareness of what is happening in your brain and body. Consciously awaken your awareness to how your drive to be right might be 'hijacking' the way that you are interacting and thinking.

OPEN -  Visualise an image that represents your mind opening to take on new learning.

LISTEN - Focus and be present to the others in the room and their perspectives.

CHALLENGE - Push yourself to challenge your own thinking and judgements - 'What if there is another way to look at this?  Am I limiting the possibilities here?  What do others' think, feel and believe about this?'

ASK - Artful questions allow you and the group to be curious and explore the thinking and perspectives in the room: 'Tell me more; What does look like to you? I'm interested in finding more about what you think there….'

Collaborative environments are not win/lose or win/win.   They are a gain for everyone.

Am I RIGHT?  Who knows?  But let's have a conversation and see what we can create together...