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Was your mother always right?

“…people find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right.” J.K. Rowling, Harry potter and The Half-Blood Prince

The other day I was involved in “an emotional” conversation with someone when in the back of my mind I heard my dad’s famous words, “your mother was right but who cares?” Immediately I burst into laughter. I guess my mom’s words were stuck in my dad’s head too and now I had turned into both my dad and my mom! It was at that point I asked myself, what am I really winning if I’m right.

As the conversation continued, my friend said the following: “If you can listen and give up being right, you might get what you really want…” What a powerful statement. Was I addicted to being right while sacrificing what I really wanted?

Does it really matter if you’re right or wrong? Why do we have so much invested in being right?Isn’t it funny how certain things stick in your head? My mom was famous for being right, which of course made the rest of us wrong. Even dad had mom’s number, he too was tired of being wrong. The truth is, the longer you live the more opportunities you will have to be both right and wrong. Most of us  don’t like being told we are wrong but we love being right.

Maybe it’s not such a great thing to be right.  Maybe winning isn’t always winning. Maybe winning is losing? These are interesting contemplations. We all know what it feels like to be around a “smarty pants.”

Does it really matter if you and I work on a problem, come to the same conclusion but get there different ways? Does that make one of us right and the other wrong? Why do people need to be right?  Is “being right” really about “right” or is it more about being “one up on you?” Smart people who are really smart are willing to listen to others ideas and don’t mind being wrong. People who always have to be right are defending more than their position, they’re defending themselves. Why do we have that overwhelming need to be right, does it go back to our childhood? Or could it be that we have low-self esteem or low self-confidence? Again it really doesn’t matter except that  people who are addicted to being right pay a huge price. In order for you to be right it means someone else needs to be wrong. Don’t thing there’s a price to pay, look at the faces around you the next time you take the dramatic stand to defend your “rightness.”

I know this is the long way to get to great customer service but sometimes the long road may be better because it gives you more time to think. Oh dear, am I succumbing to being right? As you can probably tell, it was difficult in my house to be wrong. The other day I was booking plane reservations when the agent told me for the 4th time that the only way I could change my reservation was with a penalty fee. I asked if she was sure that was the only way and she replied, “of course.” She was unwilling to look at any other possibility despite the fact that I had been told by another agent that the penalty fee could be eliminated. Eventually I had enough of her “rightness”, hung up the phone and got another agent with a different attitude. I also got what I needed  without penalty. Of course she was defending her position and I was defending mine. How could it be  the first agent didn’t know there were other options or didn’t she care? When it comes to the airlines, it’s every man for herself!

When it comes to customer service the customer needs to either win or feel like they’ve won. Customers aren’t always right but if you want them to be your customers it helps if you don’t make them wrong.  This doesn’t mean you have to give the store away but it may mean you have to give some of yourself away to focus on the outcome rather than your position.

How will you know what’s possible in life if you think that your way is always the best way? If you’re so busy making sure your agenda is heard, you may miss out on a better way or something you really want. If you want your life to change or have better relationships with your friends and customers you will have to be open to others opinions and ideas.

Five of the sweetest words you can say to a customer, “I can solve that problem.” Imagine how great those words sound to your customer?

Always keep your words soft and sweet in case you have to eat them.

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