I’m right, and they’re wrong – The “Grrrr!” moment

It’s a common frustration among managers, as they try to work with others to get things done. “They don’t get it!” “It’s their fault that things aren’t going right!” “I’m the only one who can do this right!”  “Why won’t they do (or see) it my way?” When a manager is in the throes of that frustration, I call it the “Grrrr!” moment.

 

These managers will go on to provide elaborate explanations about why their point of view on the issue at hand is logically correct. But I believe the logic covers something deeper. Behind the conviction of rightness is often a need to be right … which goes hand-in-hand with a fear.

 

The fear takes different forms for different people, and it can take some reflection and probing to surface it. Here are some steps you can take to understand, and perhaps even overcome, the “Grrr!” experience.

 

Understand the specific need/fear underlying the “Grrr!” feeling.

The best time to make sense of your frustration is right when it’s happening. When you’re feeling “Grrrr!” because you can’t get your viewpoint to prevail, ask yourself, “What is it that’s at stake for me? What is the bad outcome that I imagine might ensure for me personally, if my viewpoint on the best approach to something is not validated?”

 

Here are some fears surfaced by managers I’ve worked with:

  • having to let go of their ideal picture of how the world/others should be
  • disappointing what they think are others’ expectations of them
  • not getting the credit they feel they deserve
  • having others not like/respect them
  • not living up to their own expectations for self
  • acknowledging that it’s not enough to be the expert

 

Notice what the “Grrr!” moment feels like.

If you can identify the signs that this moment is coming on, you can treat those signs as a red flag, a signal that you need to pause. For example, you may find yourself talking a lot but not listening. Or you may find yourself making judgments about the other party – “They’re stupid!” or, “This should be obvious!”

 

Shift how you talk to yourself in that moment.

Pausing enables you to change the story you tell yourself in that moment.  There are several story shifts you might consider:

 

  • Instead of the “I’m right” story, tell yourself, “My attachment to being right has been provoked.”

 

  • Instead of seeing letting go of attachment to your viewpoint as a defeat, re-frame it as a gift – one that better enables you to connect with others, and converge on common interests.

 

  • Instead of focusing on the other party’s wrongness, tell yourself that you don’t know enough about the reasons why they see things as they do – reasons which might indeed provide you with important information.

 

Take new actions consistent with your new self-talk.

If you’re thinking about the situation differently, then it’s inevitable that you’ll be acting differently as a result. But here are some specific actions that you might take.

 

  • Inquire about how the other party sees the situation. Why do they see it the way they do?  Why are they asking that question? What’s the hidden concern?

 

  • Ask yourself, and seriously consider, the question, “What am I missing?” “How have I contributed to the impasse?

 

  • Once you’ve heard their concerns, incorporate them into your position.

 

Try these things and then pay attention to the effect on outcomes. You may find that it’s easier to accomplish goals, even if the approach isn’t exactly the one you’d have chosen on your own.

 

 

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