Have You Ever Noticed?
Have you ever noticed we seem to have this natural instinct to correct each other? When we feel someone has said or done something wrong, we have a natural instinct to correct them. We do this all the time, no matter where we are or who we are with. As a people, we can be that annoying auto-correct feature that is more of a pain in the ass than a help. The auto-correct feature on your phone does it because it is programmed to do so. I believe we are too.
Have You Done These Things?
You may be thinking, “I don’t go around correcting people.” Well, there are many ways to correct people. Have you ever…
- Yelled at your kid for leaving his or her dirty dishes in the den over night?
- Corrected a colleague who made one little mistake when explaining how something worked?
- Quietly left a bigger tip than your friend left, even though they said they would cover it?
Why? Why Do We Do It?
Most of the time our intentions are good. We correct people because we want to be helpful. But there are also times when we are just trying to show someone up or show our dominance. This happens in all kinds of relationships and knows no limits. Countless arguments are a result of someone correcting someone else. It could be a parent correcting a child, a friend correcting a friend, or a co-worker correcting a co-worker. It could even be a stranger correcting a stranger. Have you ever given someone the finger or yelled at them because they were driving slow in the fast lane? That’s a stranger “correcting” a stranger.
People Don’t Like to Be Corrected!!!
No matter the intention, people generally don’t like to be corrected. You have to know when it’s important to correct someone and when correcting them will do nothing more than upset them. This mantra kicks in when we see or hear something that we believe is wrong. The main difference is with how you respond.
I use to correct people whenever I could. It was not that I was trying to show them up, but that I was trying to show how smart I thought I was. My ego wanted to hold as much information in my head as it possibly could. This way it could use that information to win a debate with a friend or back up what I was saying with facts. But today, I respond differently, and so can you.
Use a Filter
Today, I try to put everything I experience through a filter. Whenever I see or hear something that goes against what I believe, I pause and send it through the filter. I ask myself if what is happening is important. If it is, I think to myself, “what can I say that will seem helpful and how can I say it without looking like I am correcting them?” Most of the time, I typically let things go. But some times I feel morally obligated to say something. Or what is happening is really, really important.
This type of approach also helps fend off arguments. How many times has a little disagreement turned into an argument where two people are pushing what they feel onto the other? Too many times. It is our ego that feels threatened, wants to stand up, and fight till the end. You can feel it as anger and frustration, but it is ego. The ego wants to get your point across, show you are right, and put the other person “in their place.” And the bad thing is that this happens with our loved ones even more so than strangers. We tend to hurt the ones we love the most because our ego can’t be wrong. We put our egos above our loved ones. This is not a recipe for joy and happiness.
Let the Un-Important Stuff Slide
What I am trying to say is, don’t be that annoying auto-correct feature that gets in the way of your own happiness. Let the un-important stuff slide. Don’t always feel like it’s your job to correct every thing that is said or done in a way that you feel is not “correct.” You WILL run into people who don’t seem to care about anyone but themselves. You WILL feel it is your responsibility to say something. “I can’t let him walk all over me.” So, in order to be the “good” person and “do the right thing”, you take it upon yourself to be the one who corrects them. This rarely ends with the stranger saying, “Oh, I am so sorry. I didn’t realize I was being offensive.” It often ends in an argument that really shines a light on two wrongs. It points out what you believe they did wrong and also your naive thought that you had to say something. People hate to be corrected, even if they are obviously wrong.
You will have disagreements with your loved ones. You HAVE a choice when your spouse does something that you see as completely selfish. You HAVE a choice when your child responds to your instructions with an obvious attitude. You can easily turn that into an argument, or you can decide it’s not important and move on. It may look like you are letting them get away with something, or you are backing down. But what you are really saying is, “I value our relationship more than this petty thing that won’t even be remembered in a day or two.” Don’t let a petty thing steal any time from the people you care about. I have lost time with people I care about because my ego was more interested in correcting them than valuing our time together.
Let Go of Auto-Correct Mode
Trying to make a change from auto-correct mode and ego-less mode is not easy. It will take some time. You will try to correct people, without even realizing it. The goal is to establish a trigger that identifies auto-correct mode. When the trigger fires, pause and run how to respond through a filter. The filter needs to be granular enough to find all the tiny ways we correct each other. All you can do is try to detect when your ego says, “they are wrong…I must save the day.” When this happens, you can actively pause for five seconds and think before you speak. Or sometimes, what happened may have bothered you so much, you can’t speak. No problem, take those five seconds and walk away until you get your ego in check.
Remember, people don’t like to be corrected. If you doubt that for a minute, think about how threatened your ego feels when someone tries to correct you.