In this video, Kathryn Schultz tells us that by the time we’re nine years old, we have already learned that the best way to succeed in life is to never be wrong. You should watch the video if you want to know how she came to that conclusion and a few others – when you have ten minutes.
Everybody’s wrong sometimes
Some of Kathryn’s words (if you don’t have time to watch it right now), and main points are:
- Realizing you’re wrong can make you feel embarrassed or stupid, but being wrong itself doesn’t feel like anything.
- The first thing we usually do when someone disagrees with us is we just assume they’re ignorant.
- The second is that they’re idiots.
- Then we move on to a third assumption: they know the truth, and they are deliberately distorting it for their own malevolent purposes.
There’s nothing wrong with being wrong
Assuming that Kathryn’s assumptions are correct, you can see why telling someone that they’re wrong could prove to be the biggest mistake you’ve ever made – all depending on who is on the receiving end of course. Now, let’s say that person is your boss, your teamleader, or anyone in your company with more authority. Speaking for myself and my conflict avoiding personality – Difficult conversations always have a moment or two where I say completely the wrong thing. To others, determining to even speak to the boss about being wrong is enough to bring on sleepless nights.
Before you do decide to confront the person who was wrong, consider this:
Don’t pick the wrong battles
To speak up or not to speak up about it? I don’t know, is it worth it and/or important?
Don’t talk about the wrong thing at the wrong time
Stick to the topic, make the time to have a proper conversation (in private) and give your boss time to prepare.
Don’t say the wrong things
It’s just not the right time to say things like “I told you so” or “I knew this would happen” and to place blame. It’s already done, who cares? How can we fix it?
The DESC model
Once you’re ready to have the conversation, you can use the DESC model to structure your message – positively. This assertiveness model is perfect for giving negative feedback or criticism. It’s simple and it works. It’s for this reason that participants in our “Practical Toolbox for Managers” seminars often highlight DESC as one of the most valuable tools they take away.
Description – In a private setting, start by describing what you have observed. It’s important to be objective and concrete at this stage. Take responsibility for the feedback by using “I” statements.
Effect / emotion – Once you have described what you observed, move on to the effect or impact this has had. If the effect was an emotion, share this openly. Feedback is always personal in the sense that it is between people about people. Emotions play a part in interpersonal relationships and by naming them and getting them out into the open, you can deal with them in an professional manner.
Solution – Now move on to what you like to see happen. This could be directive e.g. “What I would like you to do next time is …”. Even better, build the solution together using a participative approach e.g. “What do you think we can do to avoid this next time?”.
Conclusion (commitments and contract) – End your feedback conversation by building a “contract of commitment”. Check you have a mutually common understanding of what has been agreed, and get commitment for the future. Then conclude looking forward.
The 6 most horrific bosses of all time
I did some Googling on this topic. With any luck, your boss is nothing like these bosses were...so go ahead and have your conversation – you have nothing to loose. And finally, here are 10 things a good boss would never say. Enjoy.