When it comes to designing feedback cultures and training I reckon I’ve heard it all. I’ve seen blamers, defenders, ignorers, deniers, antagonists and all the emotions under the sun. Conversations can be tough. I know this. I research them for a living.
If I was to make a sweeping statement about why so many of us get it so wrong, it’s because we hold on too tight to being right. It’s where we believe that what we saw, or think we know, or believe we understood or heard – we hold on to as ‘the truth’.
The new age movement would say; “I’m just speaking my truth”. Other favourites (said tongue in cheek) are; “I’m just being honest” or “I’m just saying it as it is”. You know what?! You’re not speaking the truth or seeing things as they are. You are seeing things as you are. You are deciding that how you filter information is the way everyone else in life should see things. But that’s not how it works peeps.
In the early 70’s Dr Aaron Beck, an American Psychiatrist, coined the phrase ‘cognitive distortions’ which later led to the well-known practice of ‘Cognitive Behaviour Therapy’. Beck found that we all have a way of seeing data, facts and information that is different to each other. In fact, he specifically addressed how we distort our perspective in a way that is unhelpful. One of the distortions we have is our belief that we are right. I like to call it our inner ‘Always Righty’.
Being an Always Righty means that our ideas, solutions or perspectives are the right ones. The thing about being right is that it’s a blind spot. Because you’re right, right?! And when you go into conversations, meetings, relationships or anything else with this lens you are no longer open or even searching for other’s views. Coz you’re right.
Well here’s the news. You’re not! Your truth is yours. And mine is mine. And if we were as curious about understanding how and why other’s see things differently we just might learn something. And then instead of arguments we can have healthy conflict. Instead of defending our positions we can understand them.
Then you become the person that others want to talk to and be with. And others will value your thinking – because you do the same with theirs.
So next time you hear yourself saying; “This is my truth”. Ask yourself, are you prepared to genuinely hear theirs as well? Or just verbally assassinate them?