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Resist urge to always be 'right'--and win by avoiding 'dead right' phenomenon

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Do you have a penchant for always insisting that you are right? Then you are falling prey to one of the most self-destructive forms of one-way communication.

Sometimes, we are so determined to be right that we become "dead right"--as in, we blow our chance to benefit from an interaction.

A recent case in point from someone close to me--let's call him Charlie, to protect the innocent. Someone recommended Charlie to a company seeking support in marketing/communications. At the time, both the person making the recommendation and Charlie understood the company was looking to "hire a professional writer" with a strong journalism background.

Now, Charlie is a committed freelancer and not looking for a full-time job. Along the way, the firm's Chief Marketing Officer clarified that she was "trying to fill a Marketing Communications role" with someone who possessed a journalist’s background. It sounded like Charlie could be a great fit. Later, after she tried to set a meeting with him, Charlie sought to ensure that they were on the same page in terms of scope of work.

He told her that he was open only to a subcontractor role. At the same time, Charlie graciously offered that he could connect the CMO to other longtime journalists, if in fact the role was a full-time position. Here's where the irony gets rich:

"As I said in my last message," the CMO responded, "I am looking to hire someone with a background in journalism as a permanent member of my staff."

Not only was the statement inaccurate--never had she employed anything resembling the words "permanent member of my staff"--but its tone was acerbic and self-righteous. With her "As I said in my last message..." phrasing, Ms. CMO was telling Charlie, "I'm right, you're wrong. Don't you know how to read?"

He can, quite well, and from his perspective, he had just saved himself and the Chief Marketing Officer valuable time by transforming the dialogue from cloudy to clear. Charlie can read between the lines, too: he figured if he were to refer any journalism colleagues to this woman, then he would run the risk of connecting them with an inept and self-righteous communicator.

So rather than offer up any names--and rather than try to point out her inaccuracy or defend himself--Charlie simply noted that he wasn't a fit for the post and extended best wishes to Ms. CMO. She sure was right--and lost at the same time.