Let’s Reframe “Right vs Wrong”

I recently saw a post on Instagram from a good friend, who also happens to be a highly effective child psychologist and successful author. Her name is Katie Hurley, and she posted the following: “When we replace ‘what’s wrong with you?’ with ‘what have you been through?’ we meet each other with empathy and compassion.” This comment really spoke to me, in a number of ways.

My colleagues and I discuss our approach to coaching and training all the time. And one of the things we always agree on is that our approach to teaching is not about “right vs wrong” or “good vs bad.” We try to enter the world with an approach to teaching that is less absolute. We try to enter the world with a desire to meet everyone we train and coach where they are with their communication skills. We try to make our contribution less about what’s wrong with what you did? and more about how can I help you be more effective?

So, when I read Katie’s words, they jumped off the page to me. I don’t know that our team always does this perfectly. But our intention is to always meet every person we teach with the empathy and compassion that my friend Katie is referring to.

As I was digesting Katie’s advice, and thinking about how it connects to The Latimer Group’s teaching fingerprints, I also started seeing connections to leadership and inclusion. The best leaders and teammates I know focus their efforts on bringing out the best in others. And the best way I know to do that is make sure people feel heard, understood and part of the group. We don’t motivate human beings by marginalizing them… well, let me rephrase that. When human beings get dismissed or marginalized, one of the possible reactions is a high level of motivation to prove others wrong. But that type of motivation puts the person in competition or conflict with their leader or their organization. And it usually leads to a different kind of problem down the road.

The far more powerful form of motivation is to make the person feel like you are on the same side of the table, pulling in the same direction, and cheering for each other. And in my experience, that’s something that all great leaders and teammates have in common… they make others around them feel heard and supported, which almost always leads to a more empowered person and a more empowered group. 

So, as you look in the mirror and think about the kind of leader and teammate you are, spend some time thinking about how often you frame things in terms of “right vs wrong” or “good vs bad.” I am not suggesting that nothing is ever wrong or bad. Rather I am suggesting that the vast majority of issues and topics, especially in the work place, usually are a matter of perspective. If we can focus our energy more on trying to see things from another perspective, then we are quickly becoming the kind of leader and teammate that others will want to work with. 

When I am facilitating a training session, one of the first things I always say “let’s make today’s discussion less about ‘right vs wrong’ and more about how we can all help each other get better.” That comment usually leads to a really good dynamic in the session. But beyond facilitation and coaching, this kind of an approach almost always leads to better relationships, better work dynamics, and a stronger organization.

Good luck and have a great day.

Does your team:
– Take too long to make decision?
– Fail to ask for what it wants or needs from you?
– Make things too complicated?
– Deliver unconvincing or disorganized presentations?
– Have new hires who are unprepared to communicate in the workplace?

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Dean Brenner

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.