Do you need to be right all the time?

Have you ever tried to introduce a new idea, but had people tell you that it is a bad idea? Have you ever voiced a concern, or offered an alternative direction, and heard someone say to you:

“No, that won’t work…that’s not possible…that’s not relevant.”

It can be unsettling to face resistance, especially when the resistance happens in front of others. It can feel like a huge blow, and can be very hard to swallow the fact that people don’t see where you are coming from. It seems as though UX Professionals in particular feel tempted not to voice their opinion at all, when they have faced too much resistance. However, we can’t let these things get to us. We need to learn to let things roll off our backs, and move on. Here are five tips and advice that UX professionals can use to approach conflict:

1. Change your attitude. UX professionals think very highly of themselves, and have a tendency to position themselves as higher, or more important than others. When others resist their idea, it comes into conflict with how they view themselves – how could anyone not support my brilliant design decision? How could they not understand all this brilliant research I have done? Newsflash: you are not more important than anyone else. So, change your attitude, get over it, drop the ego, and move on.

2. Be humble and gentle. You may be very passionate about your idea, and you may want change to happen no matter what the cost. You might be tempted to talk about your years of experience and accomplishments, thinking that it makes you more credible, and that they should listen to you more. But this just makes you come off arrogant and conceited. It really does NOTHING for your cause. Also, be sensitive to the fact that maybe those you are talking to are not ready to fully embrace your idea. Give them the opportunity to solve the problem as well – treat them the way you want to be treated, and seek out their thinking and expertise on the issue. Be gentle and soft-mannered in your response back.

3. Do not introduce a new idea out of selfish ambition. Before talking with your team about a new idea, determine why you are introducing this new idea. Your team will be able to sniff out any selfish reason you are trying to get them to adopt your thinking, especially if you are looking to get more recognition. Think instead about what would be best for the team, and for your fellow teammates. Generate new ideas and opinions that make them shine, advance, give them more flexibility, or help them become a more balanced employee.

4. Don’t consider perfection as something you can grasp. Accept the fact that you will fail, and make mistakes, and that others will make mistakes too. You can’t possibly be perfect at everything, and mistakes will come, no matter how hard you try to prevent them. Keep a notepad with you at all times – when you make a mistake, write it down, and what you will do differently next time. Then move on. Also, don’t expect others to be perfect either – they are human, just like you.

5. Be patient. Your idea may be a good one, or you may have a legitimate concern. However it might just not be the right time to introduce your idea. You can always come back to it later, if you feel you are still concerned. But just be patient for your team to get to a point where they are ready to try your new idea.

You don’t have to be right all the time, and you don’t have to stress when others don’t see things from your point of view. Life goes on, and if you treat each other right, you might just get more accomplished than you thought you could have otherwise.

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2 responses to “Do you need to be right all the time?

  1. It is important in these scenarios to not make being “right” your goal. Don’t sacrifice or diminish what it is your presenting for the sake of righteousness. These are nothing but opportunities to learn, grow and share and ultimately “close” via a collective acceptance of one’s or a group’s idea.

  2. Tom, thank you for your comment and contributing your insight into this topic. That is so true, that being “right” should not be the goal, and that we diminish our message when we try to be righteous. Thank you for your thoughtful feedback, and helping me see these scenarios in a new and different way!

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