Undoubtedly you’ve run across someone in your career who always has to be right—no matter how off base they are. “Always Being Right” is actually a faulty way of thinking that psychiatrist Aaron Beck and his student, David Burns, included in their list of 15 cognitive distortions. Cognitive distortions are thoughts that cause people to perceive reality inaccurately.
If you’ve run into a person like this, you’ve probably seen them go to great lengths to try to prove their point of view, especially if they perceive a challenge to their thinking. They will continuously dig until they find something, anything, that will prove them at least partially right, and then they are satisfied.
This type of faulty thinking may contribute to an emotionally abusive environment. Since people with this thinking distortion feel they are always right, other people become simple objectives (stepping stones) to maintain their status of being right all the time.
What happens when you work with someone like this?
- Try to remember that this is about them, not you. One of their common tactics is to try and undermine the other person’s intelligence—don’t let it get to you, it’s just a tactic.
- Avoid involving him/her in discussions or brainstorm sessions where openness or introspection is important.
- If possible, keep them focused on tasks that have a clear right/wrong to them, e.g., finance, timelines, etc.
- Don’t argue—it will just escalate their behavior—s/he won’t drop the subject until they prove themselves. Let them say what they have to say and if you don’t agree, say something innocuous like, “That’s interesting.”
If you manage someone with this distortion, you’ll have to determine whether the benefit of keeping them outweighs the distractions and dysfunction created by their faulty thinking.
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