I'm Right, I'm Right, I'm Right! (And You're Not)

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Summary:

I came across an important observation on anger that I wanted to mention because it relates to my previous blog, in which I offered some thoughts regarding my StickyMinds column, What To Do When Anger Strikes. In a comment on emotions in Chip and Dan Heath's excellent book, Made to Stick, they point out that when you're angry, you become more certain about your judgments. When you're angry, you know you're right.

I came across an important observation on anger that I wanted to mention because it relates to my previous blog, in which I offered some thoughts regarding my StickyMinds column, What To Do When Anger Strikes . In a comment on emotions in Chip and Dan Heath's excellent book, Made to Stick , they point out that when you're angry, you become more certain about your judgments. When you're angry, you know you're right.

How true! And it can be a vicious circle: You become angry when someone disputes your belief that you're right, but the angrier you become, the more certain you are that you're right. And therefore, why bother listening to anyone else's perspective? But have you ever had a situation in which you were absolutely positive you were right, and then learned you weren't? For sure, I have.

My takeaway from the Heaths' observation is that as soon as I notice that I'm angry and that I'm insisting I'm right, I need to stop, take several deep breaths, calm myself down, and ask myself whether there might, just maybe, be another perspective I haven't considered, or another aspect of the matter I'm overlooking, or another explanation for the situation that's angering me.

There's a face-saving benefit to doing this. If you persist in insisting you're right, it's difficult to save face if it's subsequently discovered that you're wrong. But if you ratchet down your anger and let your rational side resurface, the face you save might be your own

User Comments

2 comments
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous

This sounds like exactly the kind of lessons that "Crucial Conversations" teaches.

December 2, 2009 - 11:10pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous

Valerie, yes, you're right. No doubt, numerous other books make the same point as well. I know I've come across it in other books besides "Made to Stick," but thank you for specifically mentioning "Crucial Conversations."

August 6, 2009 - 1:20am

About the author

Naomi Karten's picture Naomi Karten

Naomi Karten is a highly experienced speaker and seminar leader who draws from her psychology and IT backgrounds to help organizations improve customer satisfaction, manage change, and strengthen teamwork. She has delivered seminars and keynotes to more than 100,000 people internationally. Naomi's newest books are Presentation Skills for Technical Professionals and Changing How You Manage and Communicate Change. Her other books and ebooks include Managing Expectations, Communication Gaps and How to Close Them, and How to Survive, Excel and Advance as an Introvert. Readers have described her newsletter, Perceptions & Realities, as lively, informative, and a breath of fresh air. She is a regular columnist for StickyMinds.com. When not working, Naomi's passion is skiing deep powder. Contact her at naomi@nkarten.com or via her Web site, www.nkarten.com.

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