The mind trap of being right


I was recently lucky enough to briefly meet Jennifer Garvey Berger at the launch of her latest book: Leadership Mind Traps. I have admired Jennifer's work for some time - I recommend this and other work that she has done for anyone hoping to thrive in complexity. One of the five mind traps that are included in the book is the sense that we are right. 

Many of us (most definitely including me) fall into this trap. Hard and often. It limits our ability to engage in different views, to being curious and open. We know that those are things that are important for making decisions and solving problems in a complex world. That makes this mind trap limiting in meetings.

One of the revelations of the book was that being right is an emotion! We feel being right in the same way that we may feel being angry or excited. This is incredibly valuable knowledge and helps us to realise this:

Just because we feel that we are right, doesn't mean that we are right.

Two (or more) parties feeling right about different things is one of the most typical ways to lead an otherwise productive meeting astray. Instead of working towards a collaborative solution, we will often aim to win the argument or correct the other person's point of view.

Knowing that rightness is an emotion opens up challenges and opportunities for us to improve our meetings. The challenge is that we are exposed to the idea that we might not always be as right as we think! The opportunity is to learn that feeling right is just another indicator that we can choose to respond to more thoughtfully and get better at doing so with practice.

Some questions to consider:

  1. Do you ever confuse feeling right with being right?

  2. How might you remain more open to not being right in your next meeting?