May 19, 2023

Proving Someone Wrong Doesn't Make You Right

Perspectives are just that… perspectives.

The challenge in communication and conflict is that people often believe that their perspective is THE perspective (the right perspective).

Many years ago in my first career as a Correctional Officer I discovered quickly how many conversations between inmates and Correctional Officers (and between Correctional Officers as a team) had to do with different perspectives. I observed so much energy going into proving one another wrong. At the end of the day, that didn’t result in people being right as a result of someone being proved wrong. It typically just made the conversation more complex, messy and emotional (with the conflict still being unresolved). This was what inspired me to go on and become trained and certified as a mediator and taking a Masters Degree in Conflict Analysis & Management.

Fast forward to me opening up a dispute resolution company in 1997, I saw the same thing as a mediator. The parties put excessive energy and thought into attempts to prove the other party wrong. Same result occurred … higher emotions, more blame and the issue waiting to be resolved.

As a speaker and trainer on conflict resolution and communicating for understanding and success, I help people learn how to speak in a way that people will want to listen and how to listen so that people can be understood. This has a much better chance for resolution, but also in understanding where the perspectives originated (often an unchecked or inaccurate assumption) and what really matters.
When you are in a dialogue and someone tries to prove you wrong, respond instead with open questions instead of justifications or defensive dialogue. And… added bonus… know in that moment of responding instead of reacting, you are modelling and teaching others how to treat you.

About the author 

Charmaine Hammond

Charmaine Hammond, CSP (Certified Speaking Professional), MA, BA, is a highly sought-after business keynote and workshop speaker (having presented to more than 500 000 people worldwide), entrepreneur, best-selling author, and educator who teaches and advocates the importance of resolving conflict and building healthy workplace relationships.

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