I’m Sorry, You’re Wrong

Ever have an interaction with a friend, coworker, or acquaintance, and they are just…wrong?

It’s not a matter of disagreement or a difference in opinion. The other person is completely wrong and incorrect – factually even! What makes it worse: there is proof that they are wrong, and they keep telling you that they are correct, that you are wrong, and that you just don’t know better. And they offer you information from a known flawed source.

Full stop: this is a hard situation, and while I will often give the “big advice” at the end, I’m going to address it both here and at the end. Sometimes, you have to walk away from a friend, a coworker, or acquaintance. If you’re not ready to end the communication and relationship, keep reading for some ideas on how to have a conversation about this information.

You Can’t Change How They Communicate

If someone is set on their opinion and how they are expressing it, you can’t change that. You actually can’t change how someone communicates: if they are passive, aggressive, or passive-aggressive – that’s not on you to change, and if you try to, you’re going to 100% fail all of the time.

The only thing you have control over is your response.

If you’re pushing for them to communicate this information in a certain way, to listen, to read, and respond in the same way you have, you’re doing it wrong. Think about your response to them. Are you accusing them of something? Telling them they are wrong? Or are you asking them to do something? Take time to respond versus react. A reaction is unconscious and immediate: it’s often all emotion minus logic and thought. A response incorporates time, logic, thought, and that emotion.

Avoid Words Like BUT – Substitute AND

When you’re having this conversation that is full of responses and not reactions, you’re probably thinking more about the words you’re saying when you respond and not just running your mouth.

That happens a lot, right? We go into situations that we feel emotionally tied to and we just talk. Sometimes, after the situation, we regret the things we said or wish we would have said them differently. This is bound to happen when you’re talking to someone about being incorrect. One major word swap you can do is an AND for a BUT.

The word BUT elevates one thing above another and offers a level of importance to the phrase after the BUT. If you’re saying something like, “But you’re wrong!” you’re elevating your own opinion – what if you say, “But this study shows…” you’re also elevating that sentence and opinion. That elevation is going to cause more conflict.

On the other hand, you can say the same thing with the word AND, and you can add the information you’re looking to add without the elevation. “And have you read this study” sounds a lot less confrontational than, “But have you read this study.” You’re possibly diffusing the situation and not adding conflict to the situation.

Focus on Facts Not Feelings

This one should be easy, and it’s not. We get highly charged and passionate about the information we believe in – and this can be elevated when someone is telling you that you’re wrong, or when they are wrong and sharing faulty information.

Take a breath, step back, and focus on the facts in the situation and not how you feel.

Our intent and impact in conversations can be elevated by our emotions, and those emotions can trigger more emotions in the other person – which is going to keep ping-ponging back and forth, elevating the issues.

When you’re talking to someone about being incorrect, stick to the facts and try to, at the very least, check your emotions before the conversation. 

Know When to Walk Away

While I mentioned this in the beginning, it’s important to note again – sometimes, people are going to believe whatever they want to believe. And sometimes, you just have to walk away.


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