Anyone that’s worked closely with me knows that at times, I can be just a little kinda sorta stubborn…ok, maybe I can be a lot stubborn a lot of the time. If it’s any consolation, it’s not a new thing, my family always said I was hard-headed and have the scars on my face to prove it.
I’ve worked really hard over the years on my internal game trying to understand the times when I’m just digging in my heels because I want to be right, and when I’m holding my ground because I think it is right…and then giving myself permission to use a few different coping mechanisms to remove those firmly planted heels instead of just entrenching further.
I find the toughest situations for me to keep the bullheaded monster at bay is when I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and working through an idea and have a clear picture of what I think the approach should be before presenting to the team.
As the adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure, and in these situations I’ve found it to be true. Instead of sharing my solution and feeling (usually unjustifiably) that I now have to defend that position, I do two things:
- Present in a format that doesn’t feel like it’s in permanent ink: whiteboarding or on a slide with just text and no formatting to convince myself it’s just penciled in.
- Start the conversation with “this is just a straw man model” to have something to build from.
If that horse/monster as already left the barn, and I start feeling that toxic brew of righteousness chemicals swirling in my body (and for me it shows up as a burning ball just underneath my sternum), I pause, take a few lung filling, centering deep breaths, and ask myself the question, “What are we really trying to accomplish here?” This allows me to reframe my inner (and sometimes outer) dialogue from being right to getting it right.
What do you do to keep yourself open to other’s perspectives when you sense the feeling of wanting to be right coming on strong?