Tuesday, May 4, 2010

You're Wrong!

Here's the thing:

People don't like being told they're wrong.

Most of the people I've encountered don't really like being told they're wrong. They're generally aware they're wrong sometimes. They generally like the idea of being better or more correct in principle. But the words "you're wrong" or "that's not right" still sting a bit. Heck, I feel that way, too; it's only human.

Nevertheless, we are all wrong sometimes, and it's useful to be able to provide and take that kind of feedback. There are some things that we can do when we're saying "you're wrong" to make it a little easier for the recipient:
  • Address the problem, not the person. Don't say, "you're wrong". Say, "this sentence would be more accurate with XYZ".
  • Provide solutions. Don't say, "this is wrong". Describe what would make it more correct.
  • Indicate uncertainty. Sometimes we think something is wrong but we're not sure. Go ahead and say that. "I'm not sure" or "we should confirm" are valid phrases to use.
Being wrong sort of stinks, but it happens to all of us. We can hear feedback more clearly and be a little less embarrassed by our mistakes if we address them in a positive way that corrects the mistake without belittling the person.

1 comment:

  1. Being wrong is obviously an opportunity for improvement, but we need to make sure we're receptive to that improvement and that's clear what we can do.

    Other approaches:
    "how did you arrive at that?" (to understand the reasoning that lead to this conclusion)

    "can we make this better?"