Do You Want to Convince or Connect?
Many people think it is their job to look smart and have the right answers. As a young woman serving in elected office, I (Donna) felt the need to look strong and decisive. I believed, like many people, that having “right” answers would make me appear powerful in the eyes of others.
Fortunately, early in my career, a wise person asked: “Do you want to connect with people or convince them you are right?”
That phrase has helped David and me reflect upon our motivation when in a conversation—especially in a heated exchange.
We’ve all experienced the person with a forceful personality whose personal mission it 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 the last couple of months, as the world watches the horror of an inexplicable war, the need to be right seems to be the driving force behind conflicts and has been front and center. You might listen to the various news outlets and hear the strong opinions or see social media postings. It seems the need to be right is the primary reason for most conversations!
If you spend a lot of energy convincing others that you are right and they are wrong, you may not notice how much judging, blaming, resentment, and anger may be controlling your life. In today’s complex world, isn’t it a little arrogant to think that you know best all the time?
How can you possibly have all the answers to deal with what comes at you in one day? It is essential that we learn to balance sharing our opinions along with asking for support and remaining open to learning and hearing the perspective of others.
Many leaders fear they will be accused of being “soft” if they are not decisive and dominate in conversations. This is the quickest way to drive quality people from an organization or the 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.
The one in the family that is the “know it all” victimizes the other family members. Then the others, in turn, must push back to defend themselves or, all too often, retreat and avoid that family member.
Do you want to be right or to connect?
When you choose to connect with others, you are building trusting personal relationships that will transcend issues when they arise. Your ability to listen and build common ground will expand as you become Co-Creators and encourage others to share their gifts.
Before a conversation, especially one that might be a delicate subject, ask yourself:
- 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.
- 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 fear that is controlling you.
- How can I learn to be a Challenger in TED* (The Empowerment Dynamic)? Learning to voice your viewpoint 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, you will Persecute others and shut down their desire to engage with you both at work and at home.
Before you go into the next meeting or next conversation ask yourself, “Do I want to convince others I am right, or do I want to connect?” Creators connect.