4 tell-tale signs that you think you’re always right

By david sturt and todd nordstrom
Insights

It all started in elementary school. You remember the kid who thought he or she had the answer to every question, right? They interrupted others, always wanted to have the last word, and even had to be right on the playground. Unfortunately, the workforce is not all that much different. Many of those know-it-alls never seem to change. In fact, one might be sitting across the room from you right now, or even worse, they’re in the corner office down the hall. You know who they are, and if you don’t, the problem might be even bigger. The know-it-all might be you.

Is it possible to be seemingly know everything except the fact that you’re a know-it-all? Self-diagnose by asking yourself this simple question: “Do I think I’m always right?” Give an honest answer—no caveats. You may not want to admit it, but if you catch yourself justifying it, (I am the senior partner, so of course I’m right!), then you have a problem. Always being right can be wrong. It can turn people against you, stifle conversations and ideas, and make people want to avoid you altogether. Read on to discover the classic reasons why you might feel like you can never be wrong—and how to master your mindset so you don’t embody typical know-it-all pitfalls.

You’re being a terrible listener.

A recent Accenture study shows the majority of people overestimate how good they are at truly listening. The thing is, if you think you’re always right, you probably fall in that majority. You think you know what you’re doing, so you rush people through explanations, don’t stop to hear others out, and even disrespect conversations by trying to take on two or three things at once. Don’t do that. Stop and truly listen. You may find you’re not always right—at least not when it comes to the minutia. Being a better listener won’t just make you a better colleague, either. It’ll also boost your expertise. Don’t write others’ ideas off just because you think you’re always correct, or you’ll miss out on a lot of potential lessons. Maybe other people won’t change your mind, but if you listen carefully, at least you’ll gain an understanding of why someone may think differently than you.

You aren’t pushing the boundaries enough.

It sounds pretty self-explanatory, but it’s true: when you’re always doing the same thing over and over again, you start feeling pretty sure you’re doing everything right. And, you might be. The problem is, an “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality, destroys your potential to innovate and improve, and your work product stagnates. Thinking you’re always right probably means you’re going through repetitive motions, checking off the boxes just like you did last month—or even last year. But that’s not good for your personal development or your team’s productivity. If this sounds familiar, read up on how to expand your work horizons and strive for continuous improvement—both markers of fantastic leaders, teams, and contributors at the world’s top companies.

You need to consider new perspectives.

Do you know you’re always right because you’re the expert and the one others come to for advice? If so, here’s a shocker: you can always benefit from others’ ideas and perspectives. Research shows that if you aren’t considering new perspectives and asking for feedback and ideas, you’re hampering your own great work. Make it a point to keep an open mind when you’re in a collaborative situation, instead of judging others and asserting yourself as the expert. As the writers at Inc. put it, “Passing judgment—such as when you label someone a jerk—keeps you from listening with an open mind. You won’t be able to understand how the other person sees the world when you’ve already drawn your own conclusions.” So make it a point to consider others—and your work may just gain that extra spark that takes it from good to great.

You don’t stop to acknowledge others.

You know it all, you do it all, you win it all. If that’s your attitude, you probably don’t stop to say thank you—or even realize how much others contribute to your big wins. And this, by far, is the worst know-it-all pitfall you can fall prey to. If you don’t stop to say thank you to others, you’re not only rude, but you’re also undermining productivity, happiness, cooperation, and innovation on your team. Stop and look around. Whether they contribute ideas, stay late to help out, or even just provide great lunches to fuel the team, people are always lending a helping hand. Appreciate them. Be sincere and timely and honest. There’s no better way to build relationships, trust, and teamwork. Plus, it’s the best way to motivate and inspire people to do great work.

It may be hard to admit, but thinking you know everything is dangerous. Don’t ruin your reputation and strain your team by thinking you know better than everyone. Instead, apply these simple fixes to change your mindset and boost your work life. And, realize the one thing you absolutely need to know to be successful is the fact that none of us know everything.

This post was originally published on Forbes.

 

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