Do you tend to correct people when they’re wrong? Do you have a compulsion to let everybody know when you feel they’re wrong? No matter how well intentioned your actions may be, chances are you’re damaging your relationship with the people whom you do this to.
Relationships, both profession and personal need to be nurtured, a well nurtured relationship is a balanced, much like you balance your bank account to stay in the black. You have an emotional bank account with every person you meet. You make deposits and withdrawals from the bank account quite regularly.
Just like with your bank account, in order to stay in the black, to have healthy, long lasting relationships you must make more deposits that withdrawals, additionally, over time inflation will eat away at the value of your bank account so to maintain it’s value you must deposit ever increasing amounts.
Deposits consist of many things such as favours, surprises, complements, being there when needed. Withdrawals are usually the opposite, not enough or no surprises, refusing favours, criticising, not being there when needed. This is just a small list but you get the point.
Studies have shown that to keep a healthy emotional bank account, you would need 8 deposits and 2 withdrawals for every 10 transactions in order to keep up with inflation and stay in the black.
With this being said how much damage do you think you’re doing by acting on your compulsion to be right? Even if you are right this is classed as a withdrawal. Nobody likes to be wrong and to be proven wrong can take a massive emotional toll on anyone.
Being forced to admit it and apologise is worse still and takes even more of a toll. The real question you should be asking yourself when you know you are right and the other person is wrong is, does this really matter?
If you’re at work in a meeting and you know that someone is about to make a decision that will cost the company thousands, this is a good time to push your viewpoint. If you’re at home talking to someone who means a lot to you and you’re having a debate about what other programs the actor on the television has been in, is this really worth being right over. I very much doubt it.
Being right is not always the best approach, sometimes it’s best to just let things be. Quite often the other person will find out they’re wrong in their own time. To save face they won’t mention they were wrong, as I’ve already alluded to, nobody likes to be wrong but at some point, in the future you may hear them talking about the subject but have change their opinion, they’ve found out they were wrong by other means and now know the truth.
Whatever you do in this moment don’t point out that you had this conversation a while ago, you were right and they were wrong and they’ve changed their mind. This is a massive withdrawal. Just be happy in yourself that you were right and leave it be. They’ll be thankful for it. Just pretend you don’t remember them ever mentioning it. Even at times when it’s important to be right there are approaches that can be used to minimise or completely stop an emotional withdrawal from the situation.
For example, you could reframe their train of thought by asking them some questions about pieces of information that they may not be privy to, to tease out what’s right and enable them to come up with the answer of their own accord. By doing this you are not proving them wrong, they will prove themselves wrong, and a new piece of information will allow them to save face and your relationship will not have been harmed.
If you’re looking for specific tools to help you improve your relationships, this should be at the top of your list. If you are going to take anything away from this article it should be the emotional bank account analogy. For every two negative communications between two people you need eight positive exchanges to maintain a healthy relationship between the two of you. To keep this tally in check, learn to let he small things go and keep the negative exchanges to a minimum for when they are really necessary.