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What’s right vs. who’s right

by on
in Career Management,Workplace Communication

“Email messages are way too casual in the business world,” baby boomer Susan stated over lunch with her colleagues. “Even though the information is sent electronically, it’s still a business letter and should be treated as such.” Much younger Marie chimed in, “Yes, but as long as you politely get your point across, what difference does it make if an email contains a salutation? A clearly written sentence can suffice.”

Wanting to be “right” can often take your career in the wrong direction. You become unlikeable. There’s a clear distinction between being an informative and engaging individual (very likeable qualities) and someone who always expresses her opinions as fact and needs to have the last word.

Since likability is a key factor to getting ahead, you limit your growth no matter how fabulous your skills. Research shows people would rather work with someone who is incompetent and likable, than a competent jerk.

You get labeled as difficult. Others start going around you to get things done to avoid conflict. This leaves you out of the loop and in the dark.

What to do if this is you? Begin to notice when you feel the need to defend your statements. Yes, this may be uncomfortable, and you must go there. If it’s any comfort, I did.  Only through awareness did I come to realize that my need to be right came from a fear of being wrong. I also learned that my opinion and ways of accomplishing tasks are my truth, not necessarily others’.

For example, if your company has no protocol on email length and style, what’s right is a personal choice based on the assistant’s and supervisor’s preference.

At a loss as to what to say in those moments when you still feel the need to state your opinion? Find a way to say it with respect.

Rather than say “The younger generation just doesn’t understand true professionalism,” say “I’ve noticed the younger generation is more comfortable with a casual approach to email.”

And then be done. If the other party continues the debate, don’t engage. If you feel compelled to share, use a tone with zero attitude and say, “Well, I see it differently.”

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