I saw it. The look that came across his face after Peggy made some benign comment. The frown, the smirk, and then - the snort.
Everything about his nonverbal body language said, "You are a complete jerk for saying that. You are so wrong. You know nothing. What an idiot you are."
And then, fearing he hadn't been blatant enough nonverbally, he said the actual words: "Well, that's wrong."
Flat. To the point. Cutting like a really sharp knife right to the center of her heart - and her pride.
I saw her embarrassment. I felt it. I noticed that the other people at our dinner table also felt it as they looked away and shuffled nervously in their seats.
And yes, I wanted to say to him, "Excuse me????? Exactly who's being the idiot here?" But then - I would have been guilty of doing the exact same thing that he did. Only I would have deluded myself into believing that it would be OK if I did it to him - because, after all, he deserved it.
But then that was precisely what he thought, too, wasn't it? Didn't he think, "It's OK if I say this to her - because she is obviously sooooo wrong and needs to be set straight."
Oh, how we can justify making someone else look bad.
I know there have been times in my life when I have been absolutely certain, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that something someone said was wrong. And I can remember immediately jumping in to tell them how it really was.
Why? Because I, like you and everyone else on the planet, have a need to look good and be right.
|Had I said to him: "Excuse me????? Exactly who's being the idiot here?" I would have been guilty of doing the exact same thing that he did.
Yep, I'll own that one. And even though I may tell myself that I was more diplomatic than that gentleman was, I'm certain now that the impact was the same.
The problem is that when I have to point out to you, and anyone within earshot, how right I am about something and how wrong you are - I am thereby making YOU look bad. And the bottom line? You won't like me. You won't want to be my friend, hire me, promote me, say "yes" to me, buy my products, and on and on and on.
So what do you do when someone says something you know is incorrect?
Well, most important; never, ever do what that gentleman did in front of other people. It is bad enough to do it in private - but if any other human being is around - it is absolutely verboten.
Here are some things you can do:
1. Check out what's inside your brain. It should NOT be, "I'll show her how wrong she is." It should rather be: "Hmm. I wonder if she knows something I don't know about this."
2. Listen. Listen. Listen. Let her say everything she has to say before you interject anything (especially that frowning, smirky, snort.)
3. After you have heard her, say the following words: "Wow. That's interesting. That's not what I understood about this. Tell me more."
4. If you need to share what you think to be true, you can later say something like, "That really is interesting. I had been under the impression that...(here you can share your understanding.) But I certainly could be wrong."
Watch what happens! You will be surprised how many times the other person says, "Oh, well, maybe I'm wrong too, but..." Or maybe they won't. But one thing is for sure; you didn't make her look wrong and/or be bad and you have not only spared a relationship, you may have actually strengthened it.
And here's a bonus...
There is a bonus to this technique, also. To her - and especially to anyone watching - this approach will make you look really, really good.
You see, if you are indeed right that she is wrong, the other people in the room probably know it also. Then, if you do NOT attempt to correct her, the onlookers will see you as a person of grace, compassion and caring.
And what was it your mother use to tell you? I think it was something like, Wipe that smirk off your face! Good advice.