12 Signs You Have to Be Right

by Alli Polin on March 7, 2014

Leaders should value the team more than being right

I went to the hardware store this week and bought a few things including three hooks to hang on my wall.  When I got to my car, I glanced at the receipt, and noticed I was charged for three and then one more appeared at the bottom of the receipt for a total of four.  I figured that the woman who checked me out accidentally scanned one again.  I bought three, got charged for four, no big deal, right?  It was only $5.00 but I was still there, in the parking lot, why not get the error fixed?

Back in the store, no manager was available so I went back to the woman who checked me out, showed her the problem and asked for a refund.  Imagine my surprise when she said, “I’ll refund you the money but you did buy four, you’re wrong.  I remember.”  What?  I felt my blood begin to boil but I stayed calm.  “Remember me?  I’m the woman who bought the curtain rod?”

Not only did she insist she did remember me but also insisted that she put my items at the end of the counter and recalled a few other details about our transaction.  The problem was, her memory was 100% wrong.  I appreciated the refund but did not appreciate being told I’m a liar.  Really?  Over $5.00?

I walked out, $5.00 back on my credit card, vowing to never shop there again (or at least permanently avoid her line and to write to HQ to share my complaint).  I was super angry for the rest of the day because it was more important to her to be right than to retain me as a customer.

I wondered on my angry drive home:

  • Did she know that she chose being right over making it easy for the customer?
  • Did she remotely consider that she checks out a bazillion people a day but I only had one transaction to recall?
  • Did she care that I spent nearly $100.00 and it was unlikely I’d tell a lie about a single, cheap, hook?
  • Did she care that she had more to gain from letting go of being right than digging in her heels?

I then began to see all the places that leaders choose being right over their team’s success, parents choose being right over a strong relationship with their child and friends choose being right over laughing together and letting things go.

Are you stuck on being right?  Check out these 12 signs that may be the case.  I’ve been guilty of a few at one time or another.  You?

For coaching, consulting or speaking Let’s Connect!

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Samantha March 7, 2014 at 6:46 am

EXCELLENT post Alli!

I’m with you 100%. Whenever people in business whether it’s the CEO, owner, or customer service…once you treat a customer or even a potential customer as if they are the enemy or in some cases, the competition instead of your BREAD and BUTTER….you’ve missed the heart of business..the soul and lifeblood of staying in business and building genuine relationships and potential repeat business.

Even if one person doesn’t NEED the particular product or service a business offers, doesn’t mean they don’t know someone who does. Word of mouth travels fast and in the world of business, do NOT expect customers or clients to stay SILENT and protect your reputation if you deliver awful service or treated people poorly.

It amazes me that people EXPECT otherwise.

If people want good things said about their business, products, services or the people who operate that business..then it should go without saying that people better CARE about how they treat their customers, clients, and potentials….

Once a business has lost a customer or potential, they didn’t just lose ONE person. They lost EVERY referral that person would have given them if they had cared enough to care about the customer..

Business 101.

Great post. As usual. : )


Alli Polin March 7, 2014 at 7:03 am

I will never understand it…. why someone would put being right as a higher priority than having a strong relationship.

In this case YOU’RE right!! When companies stick to the need to be right they not only lose one customer or employee but it damages their reputation much more deeply as it ripples through their network (especially in the age of social media!)

I love it when I’m right as much as the next person but truly, I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong and even when I’m still sure in some cases, willing to simply let it go. Damaging the relationship just isn’t worth it.

Your insights are always very much appreciated!


Samantha March 7, 2014 at 7:14 am

I’m totally with you Alli! I’m the type of person that WANTS to know if there is something ‘wrong’. Sure, I like to be ‘right’ too. Most of us do! It’s human nature. We sort of have a ‘bent’ to not want to make mistakes. However we DO make them.

Each and every one of us.

When I was an employee and when I also had my own business, I wanted to KNOW how patients, clients, customers felt about their experience with me. I can’t correct what I don’t know.

To be successful in business and in ANY area of life, we need to be open and receptive to feedback. In order to do that though, we actually have to CARE about the people we serve and interact with.

Thanks for another great post. And loved the haiku deck!


Alli Polin March 7, 2014 at 8:16 am

Kinda goes along with being human… mistakes.

Says a lot about you that you wanted to know about people’s experience with you. Being open to feedback positive and negative not only creates growth but also ensures that they’re happy and your relationship is healthy.

Thanks again!


Joy Guthrie March 7, 2014 at 8:41 am

Great post Alli. I wish I could say that I don’t know what you’re talking about because I am always right….sigh….but that would be wrong. Love your message and the deck! Great collection of images. During a chat yesterday on twitter, my tweets caught the attention of someone who was following; but, not participating in the chat. The chat was on “Generations in the Workplace.” The person who started tweeting me on the side runs a very large company in Canada. Her tweets essentially said that she didn’t really care about other’s opinions. She required her team to understand her perspective. After probing further, she said that in her experience, people didn’t really know anything until they’d worked for her for at least 2 years; therefore, it was vital that they understood her perspective and modeled it over their own. You see, there are so many of us who are “always right.” I’ve found that the more I learn, the less I know. Have a great weekend, Alli!


Alli Polin March 7, 2014 at 8:54 am

That’s a great story to share here, Joy – and really sad for the people in her organization. If it takes two years to know anything… clearly only one person is ever right in that culture.

People always have a choice to remain an employee, a customer, spouse or friend. Clearly, not everyone cares that’s the case.

Thank you for bringing that story with you. Adds a lot. Sincere thanks for sharing your insights and experience!


Stephen Lahey March 7, 2014 at 9:36 am

I think that most folks want to feel proud of their work. But people sometimes measure the quality of their own performance in ways that don’t serve the customer. It sounds like the customer service person in question took such pride in her lack of errors – that any hint that her performance was not error-free felt like an attack on her. Sad. Maybe this company can help her to see the bigger picture through some coaching and training.


Alli Polin March 8, 2014 at 1:00 am


Who knows what she was thinking. I do know that she was shocked that I told her I don’t appreciate being told I’m a liar. She was also equally shocked when I asked if “so and so” was her manager that was out of the store at the moment. Turns out, she’s a personal friend of mine. I’ve held back on calling her to talk about it until I was calmer and had a clearer, less heated, perspective to share.

Absolutely an opportunity for coaching and training and I’m optimistic that will be in the works. (The store has been open for less than a year)

Thanks for your insight on this one!


Karin Hurt March 7, 2014 at 9:41 am

Great post. I lead a large customer service organization, and this is a challenge. I think every now and then people let the emotion overcome logic. I recently received an escalation that got all the way to my level where a rep and a customer argued for over 37cents. UGH!


Alli Polin March 8, 2014 at 12:57 am

Wow! Talk about emotion over logic! That’s exactly what happens when we’re blinded by being right instead of doing what’s right.

Thanks for sharing that story!


Terri Klass March 7, 2014 at 10:15 am

Loved the post, Alli as you shared the importance of doing what is better than “right”!
I have these thoughts with myself with my kids. Sometimes I just have to be wrong and not tell them what I feel is so right by my standards. I would rather be supportive and not try to manage their lives.

Wonder if you will ever go into that store again?

Also, loved the images on your deck!


Alli Polin March 8, 2014 at 12:56 am

It’s so hard! My son wrote a creative writing story at school and brought it home to work on it. He usually hates writing so I was excited to see it. The first thing that popped out to me was how much I disliked with the story. By sharing my disapproval, I only served to demotivate him and hurt his feelings. If only I said I was proud of his hard work that would have been enough (which I did but could have ended there).

In this town that store is kind of a big deal – for the first time we have a large selection at fair prices. Still, it will probably be a while…

Thank you for really highlighting an important truth.


Danielle Elizabeth Aaronson March 7, 2014 at 10:28 am

Great deck Alli- I sadly felt like too many of the slides were talking directly to me. I am in the process of developing my leadership vision, and I will be bringing this deck to my next coaching session- I think there are some great points that will help me put some action behind my vision. You always share such insight- thank you! (and $5 is important!)


Alli Polin March 8, 2014 at 12:52 am

Danielle, that’s awesome! I’m so glad that you’re going to use this. Truth be told, I am too. I’ve been so pushy and determined in some of my relationships that the person that really lost out was me.

Here’s to intentional growth!

Thanks for sharing here!!


Jon Mertz March 7, 2014 at 11:55 am

Excellent points, Alli. We do lose sight over what we are doing and saying when we are just trying to be “right.” Great use of the Haiku deck, too. I have looked at it but have used it yet. Great work all the way around! Jon


Alli Polin March 8, 2014 at 12:50 am

Thanks, Jon. I love Haiku Deck since I’ve always used very limited words in my presentations and this makes it even easier.

We lose sight of many, many things when we’re blinded by what’s right.

Thanks so much!


Kenna Griffin March 7, 2014 at 12:49 pm

I hate that you were treated this way, Alli. You know what else I dislike? That we’re in a time when this store clerk automatically expects that someone would lie about a $5 item. Seriously? How often does that happen? My guess is that it must happen far too frequently if that was her automatic response. So sad.


Alli Polin March 8, 2014 at 1:03 am

Thanks for your comment, Kenna! I agree – what does that really say about the world we live in? In my community at this same store, they have to lock up all of the glue because people steal it so often for sniffing. Bad behavior on the part of a few so often gets extended to the good majority. What would happen if we assumed the best?

Such a critical perspective acknowledge and I’m so appreciative that you raised it. I’m going to keep thinking about it too.


LaRae Quy March 7, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Great lessons here, Alli.

We lose sight of the forest because of the tree in front of us…

The clerk’s ego could not allow her to admit she had made a mistake…instead, an attitude of humility and gratitude would have served her, and her store, much better.

These are qualities every leader needs to instill in their team.

Great post!


Alli Polin March 8, 2014 at 12:37 am

Yes – humility and gratitude. We are not the only ones that “know it all” and in fact, know far more together.

Interesting to reflect on the role of ego in this one too.

Thanks, LaRae!


Blair Glaser March 7, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Love the post, and the gorgeous Haiku Deck slide show to go with it. Oh this is such an important principle! You were sharing from a team and customer service perspective, and I don’t need to tell you (as others have made reference to as well) how common this breach in personal relationships and in intimacy with couples, and how often I ask, “Would you rather be right, or close?”
Wish I could come by and look at the curtains!


Alli Polin March 8, 2014 at 12:33 am

You know it, Blair! Children, spouse, friend, significant other…. it doesn’t really matter. There are absolutely positively more important things than being right.

PS. The curtains look good! 🙂

Thanks for bringing your insights over here!


Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }