You’re wrong! It’s something most of us don’t like to hear let alone in our professional environment. It has a way of causing us to get defensive because we feel it questions our competency or bruises our ego. Either way, when we hear it we tend to put the burden of proof onto the other party to explain why they think we’re wrong and if it’s not cut and dry it can be very easy to say, “Well you haven’t convinced me, you’re wrong”. Then you’ve discouraged team members, affected morale and a potentially even stunted your own professional development.
I’ve recently taken on a mentorship role here at Travelport Locomote and in accepting the role it’s made me reflect on my own career to date and what I learnt early on as a Software Engineer that’s helped shape where I’m at today. One of my biggest early lessons was learning how to accept feedback.
To be able to be the best version of ourselves, we need to open ourselves up to learning from the people around us. Working in cross functional teams gives us an opportunity to hear from different areas of the business. It also allows us to see things from a completely different perspective and possibly one we hadn’t thought of before. If you’re open to this, it can be hugely beneficial in the workplace as it allows you to grow and develop far beyond where you could have gone on your own.
So how can we change our mind set and open ourselves up to not feeling like we’re being judged? One way is to change one of your most basic assumptions that being that “I’m right”. Flip this thought entirely on its head and try thinking “I’m wrong and probably just don’t know it yet”. This small change in mindset has some huge benefits.
Here’s some of my tips on how to put this into practice.
- When someone comes to you and says “You’re wrong”, instead of getting defensive or embarrassed, try responding with something like “ok… please continue”. The next thing is it puts the responsibility on you to understand the other person’s point before making any comment. This will help you’re understanding of the situation and assist your ability to analyse the options better.
- They say two heads are better than one. Well that couldn’t be more true when it comes to problem solving. Teamwork is the essence of a successful solution so an answer you’ve reached together is likely to be a more complete answer than the one you started with on your own. There’ll be times when the people challenging you are missing information or where they’re seeing things in a way you hadn’t thought of before. By listening you’ll be able to help improve the overall team and therefore the outcome of the problem you’re trying to solve.
- Leave your ego at the door. There’s really no place for egos to get in the way of positive work practices. However, this may be easier said than done. The key is to detach yourself from your work. You are not that marketing proposal or that piece of code or even that presentation to the shareholders. You’re just part of the process that generates it. Realising this means success for you isn’t tied to being the person who came up with the end result. It’s tied to the fact that it exists which means if you’re working in a team you’re going to get more ego boosts than you would have on your own.
What happens if you’ve gone through all this and you answer still hasn’t changed? Are you still wrong? Well, if nothing more, you’ve shown your team mates you value them and their opinions and no doubt you’re a step closer to a more collaborative and inclusive working environment.