Many people think it is their job to look smart and have the right answers. As a young woman serving in elected office, Donna felt the need to look strong and decisive. She believed, like many people, that having “right” answers would make her appear powerful in the eyes of others.

Fortunately, early in her career, a wise person asked her: “Do you want to connect with people or do you want to be right and convince them of your perspective?”

That phrase has helped us both reflect upon our motivation when in a conversation—-especially a heated exchange.

We’ve all experienced that person with the forceful personality whose personal mission is to convince everyone that they are right—–all the time. What a perfect way to be perceived as a Persecutor in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) ™.

During these last couple of weeks of the US presidential campaign, the need to be right seems to be the driving force behind most conversations whether it’s between the candidates, the media pundits or personal Facebook posts. Everyone thinks they are right!

If you spend a lot of energy convincing others that you are right and they are wrong, you may be unconscious to how much judgment and blame is guiding your life. How can you possibly have all the answers to deal with everything that comes at you in one day?

Many leaders fear they will be accused of being “soft” if they are not decisive and dominate in conversations. In the long run, this will drive the “best and brightest” quality people from an organization or team. No one wants an arrogant leader shutting down their creative ideas and no organization can afford to have only one person thinking for the team.

In families, the “know it all” can victimize other family members. Being on the receiving end can result in pushing back and feeling the need to defend oneself — or one may retreat and avoid that family member.

Do you want to be right or do you want to connect with your family and co-works?

When you choose to connect with others, you are building trusting personal relationships that can transcend differences of perspective. Your ability to listen and build common ground will expand as you become Co-Creators and encourage others to share their gifts. The result may be outcomes that draw on the best thinking of all concerned.

Before a conversation, especially one that might be a delicate subject, ask yourself:

  • “Is there anything I am trying to control?” This answer will give you a clue to what is driving your need to be right and allow you to face the anxiety that is driving you.
  • “What’s my intention in this conversation?” Be as honest with yourself as possible. If fear, frustration or anxiety is currently running your life, your false ego may want to be right more than it wants to connect with others.
  • “How can I learn to be a Challenger in TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic ™)? Learning to voice your view point without blame or judgment increases the chances you are genuinely connecting with the other person.

Strong and decisive leaders are valuable assets for any society or organization. When convincing is your “go to” way of relating, however, you will likely be perceived as a Persecutor to others, which may shut down their desire to engage with you both at work and at home.

Before you go into the next meeting or conversation ask yourself, “Do I want to connect, or do I want to be right?”