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Recommended Reading: Your Brain Is Hooked on Being Right

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Mon Mar 04 2013

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In the HBR Blog Network article, “Your Brain Is Hooked on Being Right,” author and executive consultant Judith Glaser describes how chemical reactions in the brain can make many of us addicted to being “right” all the time—and cause conflict in business.  

It works like this: In high-stress situations, the amygdala (our instinctive brain) takes over and creates the “fight or flight” response. Glaser explains why so many choose to fight: “When you argue and win, your brain floods with different hormones: adrenaline and dopamine, which makes you feel good, dominant, even invincible. It's the feeling any of us would want to replicate. So the next time we're in a tense situation, we fight again. We get addicted to being right.” Unfortunately, it seems that many business executives fall into the group addicted to being right—damaging their work relationships in the process.  

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However, there is another option. According to Glaser, the hormone oxytocin can feel just as good as adrenaline—and oxytocin production is activated by human connection. Glaser contends that “your goal as a leader should be to spur the production of oxytocin in yourself and others, while avoiding (at least in the context of communication) those spikes of cortisol and adrenaline.” 

If oxytocin production seems to be running low in your next big project or meeting, Glaser offers some exercises executives can to do to break everyone’s addiction to being right:

  • set rules of engagement

  • listen with empathy

  • plan who speaks.  

To learn more about these exercises, read the complete blog post here.  

Judith E. Glaser is the CEO of Benchmark Communications and the chairman of The Creating WE Institute. She is the author of six books, including Creating WE (Platinum Press, 2005) and Conversational Intelligence (BiblioMotion, 2013), and a consultant to Fortune 500 companies.

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