How to tell someone they are wrong

How to tell someone they are wrong

If you’re working in any sort of professional services environment, chances are that you have to review other people’s work. For those of us working as auditors, this is especially true; we are constantly looking at work done by our clients. More often than it should be, the work is wrong in some way. This means the chances are that you’ve had to tell someone they’re wrong.

So how do you you tell someone they’re wrong?

What happens when you tell someone they’re wrong?

If you’re fortunate/unfortunate enough to be an auditor, you know where this is headed. If you’re reviewing someone else’s work and you confront them with something incorrect in a matter-of-fact manner, it doesn’t go well. It doesn’t matter if you’re speaking to the bookkeeper, the debtors’ clerk, or the CEO; if you start with “hey, I was looking at what you gave me and I don’t think it’s correct” you’re setting yourself up for a tricky time.

When you take that approach, it’s likely that they’re going to have their backs up straight away. Put yourself in their shoes; something you probably worked very hard on is being criticised by this insubordinate! People are often very proud of their work, and as soon as you criticise that work you’re undermining their ability to do their work well. It’s also difficult to believe that someone who is not as close to the subject matter should be able to identify issues with the work they did.

Essentially, you’re likely going to get a rude and/or defensive response, neither of which are constructive nor going to get you what you need.

Pretend you’re the stupid one

Whenever I train juniors in our field, I love to give them this advice. When you know the other person has presented something incorrect, the easiest way to tell them to wrong is to let them come to that conclusion themselves. And the easiest way to do that is to pretend as though you’ve suddenly forgotten anything you ever learned about the subject.

Pretend you’re the stupid one. Pretend that this person’s work is so far beyond you that you cannot comprehend what having even 10% of their intellect might be like.

Ask the person to bestow some of their knowledge on you by letting them know you’re struggling with what they’ve given you. Then ask leading questions centred around the issue that you’re already found until they figure out they’ve actually made a mistake.

Why does this work? Identifying one’s own mistake means a much more graceful fall than having your work openly criticised. It allows a person to maintain some of their credibility and pride because you didn’t adopt a holier-than-thou attitude. You asked for their help and they gave it to you while spotting their own errors. Win!

The script for pretending you’re a little slow…

When I know my clients have done something wrong, my go-to script looks something like this:

Me: “Hey Joe, I was hoping you could help me with something. I’ve been looking at this [working] for a while and can’t, for the life of me, figure it out. Clearly my morning coffee is taking it’s time to sink in today; sorry for being a pain. Have you got a minute?”

Joe: “Sure. What can I help with?”

Me: “Well, I can see what you did here and that makes complete sense to me. Exactly what I was looking for. Except for this part. Over here you [multiplied by 15]. I’m really struggling to grasp why you did that. Could you explain that bit to me please?”

Joe: “Well, that’s easy. That’s because it’s the [exchange rate for USD/ZAR].”

Me: “Really? I thought it might have been that but was struggling to arrive at the same number. Would you mind showing me real quick where you got the [exchange rate] so that we’re on the same page?

Joe: “Sure, I got it from this website. I just plugged in the [currency] I wanted and the [date] and…. oh, shit. I just realised that I had the [currencies] the wrong way around! No wonder you were getting confused. Let me fix up that [working] for you and send you a revised version. Won’t be long.”

Me: “Legend! Thanks for figuring that out for me, Joe. Appreciate it.”

I’m not joking, this works!

I’m not exaggerating when I say I use this technique on a daily basis. It doesn’t matter whether it’s with a client, my boss, a junior team member, or another colleague; it pretty much always gets us to the right answer while allowing the other person to save face. You don’t even need to be an auditor to use this method; don’t tell my girlfriend but I feel like I’m employing this tactic very well at home, too. (Not that she’s ever wrong) 😉

Someone once told me that 50% of every day is conflict: it’s how you approach that inevitable conflict that will be critical to your career success. The method above allows you to get through a conflict scenario without feeling like there’s any conflict at all!

It does require you to be subtle and genuine in your approach. If your questions are dripping with sarcasm, don’t be surprised if the outcome is not what you expect it to be.

On the off chance they’re not wrong…

It usually helps to know that you’re actually right before you go down this route, but that’s the beauty of it; you don’t have to be! If the other person is right, at least you’ve not made yourself look like a complete tool by being confrontational. Either you realise your mistake, or they realise theirs. It‘s a win-win scenario if there ever was one. This is definitely one thing in the workplace that doesn’t need to cause anxiety.

You don’t really have much to lose by giving this a try. I’ll bet you can find a way to use it today!

What’s your favourite tip for dealing with tricky clients/people? Let us know in the comments!
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How to tell someone they are wrong

You’re in a team meeting, listening to one of your colleagues present the findings from one of your most recent projects.

Suddenly, as you take another bite of your cream cheese Danish, your ears perk up.

Your coworker mentions that a recent webinar increased your email signups by 30%. But, you just crunched these numbers yourself (you even triple-checked them), and you know that signups actually only increased by 15%.

Over your pastry chewing, that little voice in your head is screaming, “WRONG! That number isn’t right. It’s wrong, wrong, wrong. You have to say something!”

But. do you? Should you really speak up and issue a correction?

And if so, what’s the best way to do so without looking like you’re publicly putting your own teammate on blast?

4 Tips To (Politely!) Correct Someone

*Sigh* That’s a tricky situation—and one you’ve likely been in before. You don’t want to let misinformation spread, but you also don’t want to gain a reputation as the person who’s always knocking other people down.

Here’s the good news: It is totally possible to correct someone in a way that’s polite and constructive (and ideally doesn’t lead to flushed faces and burned bridges).

Let’s cover some tips for making that happen.

1. Find The Right Time And Place

If you’ve ever had somebody else point out one of your own screwups, you know that the experience can be. well, embarrassing.

A lot of that cringey emotion ties back to something called the social evaluation model.

“According to this account, what lies at the root of embarrassment is the anticipation of negative evaluation by others,” writes Christine Harris in an article for American Scientist.

“In short, we become embarrassed when we perceive that the social image we want to project has been undermined and that others are forming negative impressions of us.”

How to tell someone they are wrong

In fact, some people have such fragile self-esteem that they’ll never concede they are wrong, regardless of how much contrary evidence is provided. That’s because an admission of their own blunder is too threatening to their ego.

While not all of us are so obstinate that we refuse to accept corrections, being put in our place is still enough to inspire some feelings of awkwardness and unease. For that reason, it’s generally better to pull that person aside for a private, one-on-one conversation than to shine a spotlight on their error in front of a larger group.

That said, you need to use your best judgement here.

For example, if that person is about to walk into a meeting and spout incorrect information to the entire leadership team, it’s ultimately more courteous to catch them and correct their mistake before that happens—even if it’s not the most private or ideal setting (plus, timely feedback has been proven to be more effective for boosting learning).

Think of it as your way of telling them they have spinach in their teeth before they step up to the podium. A little embarrassment right now will save them even greater mortification in the long run.

2. Start With Some Clarifying Questions

Let’s assume that you aren’t in a major crunch, and you have some time to dedicate to a thoughtful conversation about the correction you’re offering.

Rather than going in with guns blazing, approach the exchange a little more tactfully by asking some clarifying questions first.

Take the example of that incorrect statistic about email subscribers. You might be tempted to jump right in with, “The number you have here isn’t right—it should be 15%.” Instead, try a more open-ended prompt like, “I want to take another look at the email statistics you have reported here. Can you walk me through how you landed on a 30% increase?”

Entering the conversation this way accomplishes a couple of different things:

First and foremost, it gives you a chance to gut-check your own correction. In some cases, that person might explain their reasoning only to help you realize that you are indeed the one who’s wrong (you’re human—it happens!).

In those cases, where that person has actually messed up and you need to help them course correct, this sort of approach not only makes you seem less aggressive, but it also provides ample opportunity to figure out where your perceptions aren’t lining up with each other.

As much as they sound like something straight out of a psychological thriller, false memories are a real thing. This phenomenon means that our memories can be altered over time, especially as we’re influenced by information we collect after that event happens—and it goes a long way in explaining how two people can have very different conclusions about the same situation.

How to tell someone they are wrong

You’ve likely experienced this before. Maybe your boss said your performance reviews need to be filled out by Wednesday, but your colleague swears that your boss said the deadline is Thursday.

In fact, false memories are way more common than you might think. In one study, a whopping 70% of participants were successfully made to believe they had committed a crime, purely based on the suggestive memory-retrieval techniques that were implemented in a series of three interviews.

What does that mean for you and your team?

Well, to state it simply, our brains have a knack for playing tricks on us.

So, beginning with a question will help uncover whether or not that person might have an incorrect recollection of an event or a misguided perception of a decision. That makes it much easier for you to help them get back on track, without it turning into an argument.

A philosopher’s 350-year-old trick to get people to change their minds is now backed up by psychologists.

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How to tell someone they are wrong

The 17 th century philosopher Blaise Pascal is perhaps best known for Pascal’s Wager which, in the first formal use of decision theory, argued that believing in God is the most pragmatic decision. But it seems the French thinker also had a knack for psychology. As Brain Pickings points out, Pascal set out the most effective way to get someone to change their mind, centuries before experimental psychologists began to formally study persuasion:

When we wish to correct with advantage, and to show another that he errs, we must notice from what side he views the matter, for on that side it is usually true, and admit that truth to him, but reveal to him the side on which it is false. He is satisfied with that, for he sees that he was not mistaken, and that he only failed to see all sides. Now, no one is offended at not seeing everything; but one does not like to be mistaken, and that perhaps arises from the fact that man naturally cannot see everything, and that naturally he cannot err in the side he looks at, since the perceptions of our senses are always true.

People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others.

Put simply, Pascal suggests that before disagreeing with someone, first point out the ways in which they’re right. And to effectively persuade someone to change their mind, lead them to discover a counter-point of their own accord. Arthur Markman, psychology professor at The University of Texas at Austin, says both these points hold true.

“One of the first things you have to do to give someone permission to change their mind is to lower their defenses and prevent them from digging their heels in to the position they already staked out,” he says. “If I immediately start to tell you all the ways in which you’re wrong, there’s no incentive for you to co-operate. But if I start by saying, ‘Ah yeah, you made a couple of really good points here, I think these are important issues,’ now you’re giving the other party a reason to want to co-operate as part of the exchange. And that gives you a chance to give voice your own concerns about their position in a way that allows co-operation.”

Markman also supports Pascal’s second persuasive suggestion. “If I have an idea myself, I feel I can claim ownership over that idea, as opposed to having to take your idea, which means I have to explicitly say, ‘I’m going to defer to you as the authority on this.’ Not everybody wants to do that,” he adds.

In other words, if it wasn’t enough that Pascal is recognized as a mathematician, physicist, and philosopher, it seems he was also an early psychologist.

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This post originally appeared on Quartz and was published September 11, 2016. This article is republished here with permission.

When you’re debating a topic with someone, it’s in your best interest to avoid flat-out telling someone they’re wrong. All it does is make the other person defensive, causing them to entrench themselves further in their beliefs. Instead, tell them all the ways they’re right, then guide them to realizing they’re wrong on their own.

How to Be Persuasive Without Coming Across as Threatening

When you really want something done, you sometimes have to sway others. And after all, a little…

This approach to persuasive debate goes all the way back to the 17th century philosopher Blaise Pascal . He found that the best way to change someone’s mind was to see things from their perspective, then enable them to change their own mind. Pascal writes in section 9 of Pensées :

“When we wish to correct with advantage, and to show another that he errs, we must notice from what side he views the matter, for on that side it is usually true, and admit that truth to him, but reveal to him the side on which it is false. He is satisfied with that, for he sees that he was not mistaken, and that he only failed to see all sides. People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others.”

Put simply, if you want someone to realize they’re wrong, start by showing them how they’re right—then show them the things they may not be aware of. Provide them with information that will lead them to their own enlightenment and you’ll avoid a heated argument. As Pascal explains, nobody gets offended by not being able to see every aspect of something. We’re only human, right? But people will get offended when you tell them they’re wrong because it feels like a personal attack on their character and intellect. Once you do that, your chance of cooperation goes out the window.

Arthur Markman, psychology professor at The University of Texas at Austin, tells Olivia Goldhill at Quartz that this philosophical take on rhetoric actually works quite well in the real world. As Markman puts it, you’re giving someone the opportunity to lower their guard and permission to change their mind without fear of it making them look bad. Cooperation is back on the table, and intellectual discussion can thrive thanks to a sort of unspoken social transaction, like “I’ll agree that you’re right about this and give you some of my information, then you are free to admit you’re wrong about that without any unnecessary chastisement.” Sometimes changing someone’s mind is about giving them the chance to do so.

How to disagree gracefully and provide alternative solutions.

How to tell someone they are wrong

About once a month, I have to tell a high-profile, Fortune 1000 client they are wrong. This is counter to what we’re taught in business. We’re all drilled with the notion that the “customer is always right.” At all costs, no matter what, keep the customer happy.

If I followed that approach, I could send over a contract and just “book em and cook em.” But selling a bad product for a short-term gain is not how you build long-term relationships and a lasting business.

So what do you do when the customer is wrong and how do you tell them “no” without losing a huge commission?

When the customer is wrong

The first thing you must know is when your customer is wrong. There are two situations when a customer is typically in need of a reality adjustment.

The most obvious situation is when the customer is being rude and obstinate. While this is the easiest situation to recognize, it is also the hardest to manage. And there are plenty of tips on how to handle irate customers.

The other, more subtle, situation you need to know how to handle is when customers are acting on incorrect information or have decided on a solution that is “best” for them but which you know, from your education, experience, and expertise is not the best for them or their organization. This situation involves a little more finesse to keep the client happy.

The fine art of telling your customer “no”

The key to telling your clients “no” is to disagree gracefully and then artfully weave an alternative solution into the conversation.

Take my Fortune 1000 client, for example. Often, the client is so sure (read: overconfident) that a certain celebrity or bestselling New York Times author will be amazing on stage. Their team has sold the name/concept internally and they expect us to “fill the order.”

From our experience and expertise, we know that certain athletes, actors, or rock stars aren’t necessarily great on stage. Just because people are famous doesn’t mean they have mastered the art of public speaking. Many celebrities are poor keynote speakers. Sometimes, they’re not even all that entertaining or informative in moderated “fireside chats.”

When you’re in this tricky situation, the best solution is to listen to their request, explain their option is a great one, you understand why they’ve chosen it, and then ask permission to explore alternatives. Say something like, “I really like this idea. Do you mind if I share a few alternative ideas?”

For example, we’ll explain that someone famous isn’t necessarily a person who can “connect the dots”–the way Steve Jobs did at his Stanford commencement. Then we’ll explain that over the years, we’ve identified the best celebrities who can engage and inspire an audience while also connecting the dots.

So the next time you encounter someone dead set on a decision, practice the art of alternative solutions: Ask permission, and then explain why there are better options.

I have received an email from someone at work. He’s quite senior and probably would get quite angry to get an “accusing” message like:

I wasn’t supposed to get this email. It looks like you sent me it by mistake.

What is a more gentle but formal way of pointing out his mistake?

How to tell someone they are wrong

6 Answers 6

As you mention that the sender is your “senior”, you want to tread carefully.

You could simply state:

I believe this email was sent to me by mistake and wanted to make you aware of it possibly reaching the wrong destination. If this message was intended for me, I look forward to discussing the matter with you further.

Or, if doing so would not “step on toes”, you could simply stop by their desk/office and tell them in person.

Don’t call it a mistake, and start by mentioning its a common error.

I think you meant to send this to someone else. Just letting you know so you can send it on to the right recipients (or correct me if I misunderstood). Have a great day.

I’m afraid I wasn’t meant to receive this. Thank you.

I would probably say something like:

I’m afraid I don’t quite understand. Is it possible that this message was intended for someone else?

Which implies that, if it wasn’t a mistake for you to have received the message, you at the very least don’t know what to do with it.

Not really an answer but yesterday, somebody sent me an email that ran as follows (full names omitted):

Attached is a copy of your approved appraisal report for your refinance transaction with M—- Loan Company.

The attachment was wrong so I replied:

Attached was NOT a copy of my approved appraisal report for my refinance transaction with M—– Loan Company.

Attached was a copy of addenda to a bill of sale between a Michael G—- (not me, Michael L—-) and an Angus McC—-, who, by the way, I bet doesn’t get a lot of faxes intended for other Anguses.

It’s hard to make loan officers laugh, but I did it.

And about two weeks ago, I got a warm email from the CEO of a company where I had applied for a job, welcoming me on board. I had to delicately respond that her VP had already (rather rudely) turned me down for the position.

Here’s a contrarian viewpoint for your own protection.

First, emails are not formal, so you have not interrupted a formal communication. Why then elevate it to formal and so make yourself look naïve?

That said, and taking you at your word that he engenders fear, the only gentle way to inform him is not to actually inform him at all. Believe me, he is not interested in your dilemma, nor in noble or fawning words.

One approach is to use a go-between, such as an executive secretary if he has one. Without mentioning your surname, simply hand it to his secretary with the simple statement that this came to you by mistake. An administrative aide’s job is to know what preens and what ruffles a boss’s feathers, and to act accordingly.

If no one is available to bring the electronic mishap and misdelivered letter to the gent’s attention, simply forward it back. It is likely that your own address was but one of many addressees, so word may have already spread.

The problem with making excuses to him, aside from wasting two persons’ time, is that you expose yourself unnecessarily. Do you think he will take any kind of contrived politeness as other than self-promotion? I wouldn’t. Neither would you.

Finally, seniors do not typically use email, so take advantage of the protective layer that surrounds any exec and forward said mail without further delay.

Or shred it and throw its tattered remains in the trash.

Local organisations are playing a crucial role in tackling concerns over the Covid jab

How to tell someone they are wrong

Volunteers outside a Heal Together pop-up vaccination centre in Newham. Photograph: Heal Together

Volunteers outside a Heal Together pop-up vaccination centre in Newham. Photograph: Heal Together

For two months, one of the women attending Anab Hoffmann’s weekly drop-in sessions was very vocal in her opposition to vaccines of all kinds.

“She was one of the loudest,” Hoffmann said. “There’s always one. She was very loud. But we didn’t mind. That was her view. We don’t want to tell people they are wrong. We just want to give them the evidence.”

Hoffmann is the founder of Heal Together, a community interest company that focuses on helping London’s Somali community understand and access mental health support. They run a “Shaah and Sheeko” [tea and chat] group on Thursdays at various places in east London where people can talk about anything they are concerned about. Hoffman and her colleagues show people how to get help.

Since July, they have also been talking about vaccines – one of hundreds of “community champions” who are trying to persuade people to get the jab. People like the vocal anti-vaxxer at the Shaah and Sheeko.

“Week in, week out, she was very reluctant, but we saw her soften her tone.” They showed her videos of Somali doctors talking about vaccines, and information about the different vaccines and what they do.“We’re a small community,” said Hoffmann, who gave up her job in human resources for a major bank to start up Heal Together. “But we have unexplained levels of autism and some people believe the MMR vaccinations are responsible, which is untrue. But it has been a problem.

“Then a few weeks ago, we were doing outreach work outside a mosque and we saw her. She hugged all of us. I was perplexed, to say the least, because she had been so against it. But she said she had got the vaccine, and her sisters too.”

Even though everyone over 18 has been eligible for a free vaccine for at least six months, more than 60,000 adults received their first dose in the week up to 5 December, according to NHS figures.

In the London borough of Newham, where Heal Together is based, more than 220,000 first doses have been given out to over-18s, but there are between 268,000 and 350,000 adults in the area. The local authority has been funding 15 community groups including Heal Together and about 8,000 people have been vaccinated at pop-up clinics, like one Hoffmann ran in Stratford in June.

How to tell someone they are wrong

A woman receives her vaccination at a Heal Together centre. Photograph: Heal Together

Jason Strelitz, director of public health in Newham, said there had been an increase in unvaccinated people coming forward since the emergence of the new, more infectious the Omicron variant. “We’ve been working a lot with very small community and voluntary organisations who have deep roots into different communities,” he said. “Breaking down trust barriers is important.”

Around 10% of people in their 40s are yet to have any vaccine against Covid-19, according to NHS figures, which leaves them vulnerable to serious illness if they become infected. More than a quarter of men aged between 18 and 24 are unvaccinated, nearly six months after they were first offered.

Since the government’s strategy of avoiding Covid restrictions relies on a herd immunity approach, these unvaccinated people represent a significant problem. When Boris Johnson announced plan B measures last week, he hinted that mandatory vaccinations might be an option, saying a “national conversation” was needed. Vaccines are already mandatory for care home workers – although a grace period has been extended into next year – and frontline NHS workers will be obliged to be double jabbed by April.

But the prospect of mandatory vaccines was “worrying”, according to Dr Pauline Paterson, co-director of the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

“We might need boosters every six months,” she said. “How many doses will be mandatory?” LSHTM researchers conducted a study of 17,000 people in April and discovered that although people who had been vaccinated liked the idea of vaccine passports, those who were already hesitant became more reluctant.

But confidence, or a lack of trust in the vaccines, or authorities, is only one reason why some people are unvaccinated, Paterson said. They may be complacent – particularly young people who believe they are not vulnerable to Covid, or there may be a lack of access.

“Maybe some people tried to log into the system and it wasn’t working. Or they didn’t know their NHS number, or the centre is too far away,” Paterson said. “Usually, by the time you have systems in place to make vaccines mandatory, you don’t need to, because generally the problem is about access.

“There’s an assumption we need to educate people, or tell them off, but actually we need to find out why people haven’t had a vaccine. The key is not to stigmatise and not to assume.”

Access remains a problem for some, including immune-suppressed people who need a third primary dose of the vaccine but say there is no way to book a vaccine appointment. They also face resistance from volunteers who do not always understand that they are eligible for a jab.

Even 15% of over-80s eligible for a booster dose have not yet had it, nearly three months after being invited. Changes to the way vaccines are now delivered may mean it is harder for some to access, according to Ruthe Isden, Age UK’s head of influence.

“In January, people were furloughed so they were more able to drop everything and take relatives to vaccine centres. In older age groups, people do face practical barriers. And for housebound people we do need wraparound support.”

Trimming your guest list can be one of the toughest tasks on your to-do list. A variety of factors influence the size of your wedding, from your budget to your venue and your overall vision. Since it isn’t always feasible to invite everyone you know, here’s how to politely tell someone they aren’t invited to your wedding especially if they assume as much. Distant friends or acquaintances might put you in an uncomfortable position if they ask for an invite when you weren’t planning on extending one, which is why we recommend preparing a few responses.

Whether you’re working with a strict budget or you only want immediate family and friends at your nuptials, it’s OK that you’ve limited your guest list. When it comes to invitations, you should include people you genuinely want to celebrate with. One caveat to consider, though, is that anyone who’s contributing to your wedding typically has a say in the guest list, according to traditional wedding etiquette rules. If your parents or in-laws are helping foot the bill, it’s necessary to collaborate on the guest list.

In the months leading up to your nuptials, people who aren’t included on your list might insinuate that they expect to attend. While it might feel awkward, there are ways to politely tell someone they aren’t invited. Below, we’ve highlighted a variety of reasons someone might not have gotten an invite, along with examples of exactly what to say if they ask why. Read our tips to seamlessly handle awkward guest list conversations like a pro.

The Reason: They’re a distant friend

It’s not uncommon for distant friends and acquaintances to reach out after you get engaged. They might comment on Instagram pictures or send well-meaning messages about your upcoming wedding, expressing their interest in catching up. They most likely mean well, but the conversation might get awkward if it feels like they’re getting in touch solely for an invite to your wedding. You’ll often be able to tell if a person is sincere in their well-wishes or if they’re trying to land a spot on your guest list.

When it’s time to politely tell them they’re not invited to the wedding, stick with the simple truth. Tell them you’re happy they reached out to you, and you’re excited to get back in touch. Fill them in on your life since you last spoke and ask them questions about theirs. If they ask you about the wedding, tell them about the budget and space constraints. If you do want to see them, suggest catching up over coffee or dinner after the wedding. Here are some ideas of how to navigate this tricky conversation.

“It’s great to hear from you! We hope you’re doing well since we last caught up. We’re keeping our guest list limited to immediate family members and close friends, but we’d love to catch up with you after the wedding.”

“Thank you so much for your well-wishes, it means the world to us. We’re sticking to a small guest list due to budget constraints, so we hope you’ll understand. We’d love to grab dinner with you soon to catch up.”

“It’s great to be in touch again! Due to our venue capacity we have a small guest list, but we really appreciate your well wishes.”

The Reason: They’re a boss or coworker

You’re likely going to see your boss and coworkers on a fairly consistent basis leading up to your wedding. They might ask questions about your planning process because they’re genuinely interested to know, and this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re looking for an invitation. But as your date gets closer, they may start to hint that they want to come. You don’t have to invite anyone from work, but you can if you want to—especially if you’re close friends with some of your colleagues. Plus, inviting one person from work doesn’t mean you have to invite everyone.

As a relationship coach, I help people navigate the waters of romance and teach skills that can be useful in all of our life’s relationships.

Many people erroneously assume that a ‘good’ relationship should be conflict-free, and at the first sign of a disagreement, they want to lace up their Nikes and RUN. But being in any authentic relationship will inevitably come with some conflict. Whether it’s a significant other, friend, family member, child, neighbor or colleague, it’ll happen.

Sometimes you’ll inadvertently hurt someone and then carry the shame and guilt about it for a long time. Or you will be the one who is hurt by someone you care about. If this relationship is one that you value and you want to ‘speak your truth’, what is the best way to tell someone that they hurt your feelings?

How to tell someone they are wrong

How to spot a toxic friendship – and how to get out of it

Here are five experience-tested ways to heal a fractured friendship.

1. Sleep on it.

Being hurt is not fun, ever. When someone pushes a button by saying something mean or sharp, it can shake us to our core. Especially if, in the tiny recesses of our mind, we believe that there is some truth to it.

A natural inclination is to fight back right away, but that rarely leads to anything good. In fact, we usually end up saying things we will later regret. Try not to retort, and sleep on how you feel.

2. Write a letter that you WON’T mail.

After you’ve slept on it, chances are you’ll be maybe a tad less angry. You’re not ready yet to go ‘toe-to-toe’ with the person. Write a letter. Handwriting is more cathartic. Telling the person every single thing you feel, with no filters.

Releasing anger via writing is a great thing to do and often brings down our ire dramatically.

3. Plan your words carefully.

Start with how important they are to you, and why you’re having this conversation. It could go like this:

“You’ve been a great friend to me for many months, and I treasure our relationship. There’s something I want to talk to you about so I can better understand something that I might be creating a story around.”

State your issues in an “I felt hurt when you _______.”

Open yourself up to the possibility you got it wrong by asking directly, “Did I misunderstand your comments?”

Listen to understand.

How to tell someone they are wrong

Middle schoolers share what kindness means to them

This is hard, but listen without judgment and try to understand the person’s motives. Be more present than ever and don’t interrupt while they’re talking. Perhaps you’ll find what they said fair, perhaps you’ll find it to be nonsense. But nonetheless, give them the floor and wait your turn to talk.

4. Be prepared for either a positive or negative outcome.

Often we feel that we have been wronged, and expect the other person to make an apology, especially when we made the gestures.

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The person may be incredibly contrite and apologize profusely, or may double-down and also tell you other negative things as well.

5. Decide what’s best for you.

At that point, you can reflect on your relationship with this person, and see if you want to be as close, become more distant, or end the relationship all together.

If the person takes responsibility and apologizes for the conflict, you have a high likelihood of keeping the relationship where it was. If they don’t, you may feel you don’t need a a jealous or toxic person. Handling the hurt of a wounded friendship with grace is all we can ask of ourselves.

Relationships define us and our happiness throughout our lives. Following these steps won’t prevent you from wounded feelings, but you should be more able to express your hurt in a more meaningful way.

How to tell someone they are wrong

Dating coach Bela Gandhi is the founder and president of Smart Dating Academy.

If your new acquaintance does any of these things, you should probably stay away.

You know how damaging it can be to have a toxic person in your workplace, or in your life. Unfortunately, most of them don’t come with warning labels the way toxic chemicals do. Many of them seem very likable at first. After all, most toxic people are good manipulators, so getting you to like them is part of their toolkit.

Is there a way to tell early on–ideally the first time you meet–that someone will turn out to be a toxic person? While there’s no foolproof method to tell right away if a new friend or colleague will be a drag on your energy, mood, or productivity, there are some early warning signs many toxic people display. If you encounter any of these when meeting someone for the first time–and especially if you encounter several of them–proceed with caution:

1. They badmouth someone else.

I once went for an interview at a company where the CEO told me about the deficiencies he saw in his second-in-command. That seemed like a big red flag to me, and I was right–I tried working there on a part-time basis for a couple of months but quickly left when the CEO proved much too toxic to work with. If someone you meet criticizes or complains about a third party who isn’t present, that may be a sign that you’re dealing with a toxic person–and when you’re not around they’ll say bad stuff about you. (The exception is when the comment makes sense in context, for instance if someone criticizes the Democratic candidate when you’re at a Republican fundraiser.)

2. They complain.

Most toxic people are championship-level complainers. Listening to them gripe can be bad for your mood, your productivity, and maybe even your health. Plus, if you’re like many people, you’re in danger of getting sucked in, trying to fix whatever they’re unhappy about. That’s almost always a losing proposition. So if someone starts off your acquaintance with a lot of complaining, think hard about whether you want that person and their many dissatisfactions in your life.

3. They ask for special treatment.

You know who I mean. The person who expects you to accept their submission even though it’s a day or two past the deadline. The person who absolutely must get into your event for free even though everyone else is paying admission. If someone asks you for a special favor when you’ve only just met, just imagine what they’ll ask for once they get to know you better.

4. They boast.

If you’re meeting someone for a (formal or informal) job interview, it’s natural for them to talk about their accomplishments. In other situations, someone who bends your ear for five minutes about how successful their last project was or how high their revenue is trying too hard to influence your thinking. Be wary.

5. They put you on the defensive.

Sometimes this happens so subtly that you can’t even say for sure how it was done. But you suddenly feel the need to explain to this person you’ve barely met why you made the choices you did, or why your organization isn’t so bad after all. Someone who makes you feel like you have to constantly defend yourself, your company, or your beliefs is going to be exhausting to spend time with.

6. They make you work to please them.

This happens to me all the time, and I bet it happens to you, too. Someone tells you they just can’t find the app they need for what they want to do. Or they’ve put together a proposal, but it just isn’t quite right. Or all their hopes ride on their child getting into that one special school. Before you know it, you’re trying to write an app for them, or seeking out inside tips to improve their proposal, or calling all your friends to see if anyone you know happens to know someone on the admissions committee for the school they want.

Stop right there. Anyone who has you tying yourself in knots to help them when you’ve only just met will only manipulate you into greater and greater efforts as time goes on. And you already know they’re extremely difficult to please.

7. They don’t show interest in your concerns.

You’ve just had a 10-minute conversation with a new acquaintance and you already know where they grew up, that they got divorced six months ago, and that they just landed a promotion. Meantime, they don’t even know where you work or what you do for a living.

Someone who expects you to be interested in every aspect of their life but has zero curiosity about yours is highly likely to be a toxic person. Be on your guard.

8. They don’t make you feel good.

Do a gut check. How do you feel after talking with this person? How would you feel at the prospect of, say, spending an hour with them over lunch or coffee? If spending time with someone makes you tense or unhappy, there’s a decent chance that this is a toxic person. So if you feel negative, it’s worth trying to figure out why. Maybe this is someone from a different culture, or you feel intimidated by their intelligence or success, in which case you should probably try to overcome your resistance. But it could also be that this is a toxic person, and you should follow your instincts when they tell you to walk away.

How to communicate your feelings so you are heard.

I have a friend who constantly interrupts me and finishes my sentences. The worst part of this interaction is that what she says when she finishes my sentences is not what I intended to say. I love my friend, but there are times I am so frustrated with her. but then I shut down and quit talking.

How do you tell someone they frustrated, discounted, or hurt you, and tell them in a way that enriches, not harms, your relationship?

How to tell someone they are wrong

Telling someone directly how you feel about what they did is often uncomfortable but easier on your mind and body than holding your anger and fear inside. In my experience, when you share what you feel with the intention to improve your relationship because it is important to you, not to punish or hurt them back, they will hear you. They may get defensive when you tell them, but they won’t feel you are pushing them away. The adjustment you want to see will begin, even if they can’t completely change this habit.

Here are the five steps for sharing your feelings so you are heard. You can also view a video summary of these tips.

1. Start with why what you want to say is important.

You might say, “I would like to share something with you because I value our relationship.” Or at work, you might say something like, “I know that us working well together will help us both reach our goals. Can I share something with you that could improve our collaboration?”

2. Briefly describe what happened that felt hurtful or disrespectful.

Say, “When I was talking, you (said or did this).” Don’t go into a long story about what occurred or try to soften the blow by saying you know they didn’t mean to be offensive. One sentence that describes your experience of their behavior is enough.

The other person might interrupt you to explain themselves. Tell them you want to hear what they have to say, but you would like to finish first. Say this calmly, without anger, so your emotions diffuse instead of add to their resistance.

3. Say how their behavior made you feel—the impact.

This statement is the critical piece of your delivery. They can’t debate how their actions made you feel. Cleanly say that it felt like what you had to say was not valuable. You feel angry, frustrated, hurt, scared, or you just give up when this happens.

Use “I” statements. Don’t blame them for not caring or judge them for being insensitive. This is how you feel when they act this way regardless of their intentions.

4. Ask for what you need going forward.

What would you like them to do instead of what happened? Again, be specific, such as asking if they could allow you to finish your sentences, include you more in group conversations, or be open to honoring and discussing different ways of seeing things instead of debating what is right and wrong. Then accept their response, knowing they heard your request. They may need time to process what you shared.

5. End by reinforcing why you are making this request.

Tell them again why your relationship is important to them. You want both of you to feel good about your conversations. You hope they let you know if anything you do impacts your interactions, too.

If you don’t share when you feel badly in a conversation, you create distance instead of connection. Muster your courage to share your reactions and requests, knowing they can adjust even if the change takes time. If the relationship is important to you, it’s worth it.

Facebook image: PR Image Factory/Shutterstock

For obvious reasons, they should know when they’ve got their facts wrong or made an error. But you don’t want to seem like a know-it-all, and you never want to embarrass or insult your superior — so you need to tread carefully.

“It’s a sticky situation,” writes Bernard Marr, a bestselling business author and global enterprise performance expert, in a recent LinkedIn post. “Do you let them know they’ve made a mistake, or do you hold your tongue and let someone else be the bearer of bad news?”

He says some managers appreciate when their employees question their decisions because they know they don’t have all the answers. “Others? Well, let’s say they’re less open to feedback.”

Here are four things you should do if your boss tends to not take criticism well:

1. Pick your battles. “Before you lay on the criticism, ask yourself, how important is it that I correct this?” writes Marr. “If your boss is misquoting your favorite movie or mixing up the tiny details of how something happened, it’s probably not worth correcting them.” But if their mistake will be costly to the company or make them look stupid in a big meeting, it’s probably worth letting them know (if, and only if, you go about in in the right way).

2. Don’t correct them in front of others. Think very carefully about when and how you want to tell your boss they’ve made a mistake or were wrong about something. “If at all possible, speak to your boss in private, so there’s no chance you will embarrass him in front of others,” Marr suggests. “Correcting your boss in front of a client or in front of his boss is probably the worst possible time, because your boss has the most at stake.”

3. Use suggestions instead of statements. “Couch your correction or criticism as a suggestion or opinion,” Marr advises. For instance, try something like: “I think this would be a better way to handle…” he says. “When you don’t come out swinging with the ‘You’re wrong,’ bat, you also make it easier for them to buy in and agree with you.”

4. Offer a solution. “Nobody likes to hear that they’re wrong, but it’s even worse when there seems to be no point to it,” says Marr. “Instead of just pointing out a mistake, offer a suggested solution for how to fix it.”

He says even if you handle it perfectly, there’s no guarantee that your boss will admit to his mistake. “In that case, go back to step one and ask yourself how important the issue is. Know when it’s time to escalate and take your concerns to someone else in the company. You might want to go to HR first (who will likely agree to keep your concern confidential) before addressing your boss’ boss directly.”

Read the full LinkedIn post here.

How to tell someone they are wrong

Angela Morrow, RN, BSN, CHPN, is a certified hospice and palliative care nurse.

How to tell someone they are wrong

Isaac O. Opole, MD, PhD, is a board-certified internist and a current teaching professor of medicine at the University of Kansas.

Family members and friends of a dying loved one may wonder if the person knows they are dying. They may worry that if their loved one doesn’t know death is near, telling them might dash any hope and even make them die sooner. Here’s how to recognize the signs that someone is close to dying and why it is ok to acknowledge it.

How to tell someone they are wrong

The Important Tasks of Dying

It is natural to want to shield the ones we love from pain and sorrow. Trying to protect a loved one from the truth about their condition may initially seem like a good idea, but in fact withholding that information can lead to resentment and disappointment.

When a person knows they are dying, they have the opportunity to do five important things:

  1. Apologize for past mistakes
  2. Forgive others for their mistakes
  3. Thank those people who matter most
  4. Say “I love you” to those they love
  5. Say goodbye

Without the opportunity to do these valuable things, your loved one could die with unfinished business.

Hope at the End of Life

It may seem like a dying person can’t possibly feel hopeful, but dying people do retain an amazing capacity to hope. While they may have stopped hoping for a cure or for a long life, they may still hope to mend relationships with loved ones and to die peacefully.

Keeping the truth about dying from the one who is nearing death could rob them of the chance to reflect on their lives and fulfill their final wishes.

Signs That Death Is Near

As someone nears the end of life, they usually experience certain specific physical and mental changes, including:

  • Fatigue or sleepiness
  • Refusing food and drink
  • Mental confusion or reduced alertness
  • Anxiety
  • Shortness of breath or slowed or abnormal breathing
  • Hands, arms, feet, and legs that are cool to the touch

At the very end, the eyes may look glassy and the person may breathe noisily, making a gurgling sound known as a “death rattle.”

Awareness May Linger

It isn’t clear how long a person who is dying retains awareness of what is going on around them, but research suggests that some degree of awareness may remain even after the person slips from unconsciousness.

A 2014 study looked at 2,060 patients from 15 hospitals in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Austria who had been given CPR after going into cardiac arrest (in which the heart stops completely). Of those who survived, 140 were surveyed about their near-death experiences. Thirty-nine percent reported feeling some kind of awareness before their heart was restarted, but did not have an explicit recall of events.

Often, people will lapse into a coma before they die—a deep state of unconsciousness and unresponsiveness. People in a coma may still hear people talking even when they can no longer respond. Because of this, the Hospice Foundation of America suggests that caregivers, family, and physicians should behave as if the dying person is aware of what is going on and is able to hear and understand voices.

A 2020 study that investigated hearing in palliative care patients who were close to death provides evidence that some people may still be able to hear while in an unresponsive state. Electroencephalography (EEG) was used to measure the dying brain’s response to sound. The findings suggest that telling a person you love them in their final moments may register with them.

They Know They’re Dying

Dying is a natural process that the body has to work at. Just as a woman in labor knows a baby is coming, a dying person may instinctively know death is near. Even if your loved one doesn’t discuss their death, they most likely know it is coming.

In some cases, the person comes from a culture or a family in which death is simply not discussed. Furthermore, your loved one may sense that others feel uncomfortable recognizing the dying process so they don’t want to bring it up.

Death can then become the elephant in the room. Everyone knows it’s there but no one will acknowledge it. Family discussions may be awkward and superficial and never reach an intimate level. In this case, the important work of mending and completing relationships may not happen.

Talking About Dying

Talking about death is rarely easy. Many of us feel uncomfortable even saying the words “death” or “dying.” Talking about it with a loved one who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness can be especially awkward.

First, remember that you are talking to someone who is still living, and that talking about memories and shared experiences honors the dying person’s life. Experiencing sadness with the loved one is appropriate; that’s part of life, too.

If necessary, a therapist or hospice social worker with experience in this area can make these conversations easier.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does dying feel like?

While we can observe another person’s death and perhaps imagine what it feels like for them, there is no way to know what it actually feels like to die.

What are the signs that death is near?

Someone who is very close to death will likely refuse food and water. Their breathing and heart rates will slow and/or be abnormal and their hands, arms, feet, or legs may be cool to the touch. They may also be agitated, anxious, and confused.

What should I say to someone who is dying?

There is no right or wrong thing to say to a dying person. You may want to share memories or make sure your loved one knows you love them. A therapist or hospice social worker can help make conversations about dying easier.

What are the five stages of death and dying?

According to one widely-accepted theory, originally conceived of by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in 1969, the five stages of coping with realizing you are going to die are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

A Word From Verywell

As uncomfortable as it can be to acknowledge openly that a person you love is dying, it’s important to realize that the person is most likely aware that they are dying, so you don’t have to struggle with “breaking the news.” In fact, dying people often appreciate being able to use the time they have left to tell people they love them and mend certain relationships if necessary.

What is a know-it-all; and how do you know if you (or someone in your life) are one?

It is a person who thinks they know all the answers, to everything. Invariably, they don’t! We aren’t talking here about experts or people with a high level of knowledge. We are considering people who think they are far more knowledgeable than they are.

Know-it-alls tend not to have the self-awareness to recognize this trait. So how do you spot such a person, and most importantly, how do you deal with them?

Key traits of a know-it-all

1. Arrogance

Know-it-alls will truly believe they have all the answers. This ego can manifest in several ways, but invariably, this type of person cannot accept that there is a multitude of things that they do not understand.

This huge ego is one of the easiest ways to spot a know-it-all, since they will wear their arrogance on their sleeve, and even believe it to be a positive trait!

2. Argumentative

If you come across someone who is extremely argumentative for no particular reason, there is a good chance they are a know-it-all. This type of person loves the opportunity to prove somebody else wrong, or to make a point. They might insert themselves into somebody else’s conversation just for the opportunity of sparking an argument.

Such a smarty might also turn a gentle discussion into a full-blown row, just for the chance to make their voice heard.

3. Patronizing

Every know-it-all believes themselves to be of higher intelligence than the people around them. Whilst this couldn’t be further from the truth, they will take great pleasure in condescending, speaking down to and patronizing others with their superior intellect.

This patronizing nature comes from the belief that everybody else is less knowledgeable than they are.

4. Correcting others

The one thing that a smarty loves best is to be able to correct somebody else. Jumping in uninvited to a conversation, making a point of identifying errors and flaws in another’s argument, or loudly stating corrections is a sure-fire sign of a know-it-all.

5. Making excuses

On the other hand, the one thing know-it-alls hate most is to be wrong. You would have a very hard time convincing them of this fact, but if a smarty is proven to be incorrect, especially in a public setting, they will endeavor to find any reason to excuse their misinformation.

If they use the wrong word, they might try to pass it off as a colloquialism, for example, or say that they had misheard the question. Anything but admit being wrong!

So now we know the key traits of know-it-alls, how can we deal with them?

Dealing with a know-it-all

As with most unpleasant personality traits, a smarty usually has underlying insecurity that leads to their arrogant behavior. These could include:

  • Insecurity about their own intellect – trying so hard to bury their feelings of inadequacy that they turn this around into being a know-it-all.
  • Lack of self-control – they might be compulsive and feel unable to keep quiet even if their contribution to the conversation is unwelcome.
  • A desire for praise – somebody who yearns for approval might act as an over-achiever, and try to come up with a meaningful answer for every question and appear to be smarter than they are.

How to handle know-it-alls

Here are my tips as to how to manage a know-it-all, particularly when they are a person you are likely to encounter every day, such as a family member, friend or colleague.

1. Ask questions

A smarty wants to wow the world with their knowledge, and can often alienate friends by having a retort or comment deriding every statement somebody else might make.

This can be diffused by asking them questions. This gives a know-it-all the outlet to express themselves, get their opinions off of their chest and perhaps might mitigate their compulsion to denigrate anybody else’s thoughts or feelings.

2. Define the limitations of your time

A smarty-pants wants approval. If you find yourself losing valuable time listening to their ramblings, it is up to you to set the boundaries of your time.

Try explaining that, whilst you are interested in their opinion, you have an urgent matter to attend to. Or, set the parameters before you talk if you have a colleague who thinks they know everything and you know can wax lyrical for hours on end.

3. Admit to not knowing

This only works in some circumstances, but know-it-alls may feel fearful of being ‘found out’ and try to obscure that with having an answer for every question. If this is the underlying reason for their behavior, rather than genuine arrogance, saying that you don’t know the answer could put them at ease.

Realizing the comfort with which most people have in not knowing absolutely everything is an assurance that this is completely normal, and that they will not be judged for not being a human encyclopedia!

4. Try to be understanding

If all else fails, you could try showing tolerance for a smarty-pants who probably finds it very hard to maintain friendships or relationships. They might genuinely not realize the extent of their behavior, or how off-putting it can be, so showing empathy might help them to calm down and control their impulses.

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This Post Has 3 Comments

I couldn’t help but laugh myself into oblivion. That’s so the boyfriend of over seven years. I get to a point to ask him if he’s writing a book. He’s a culinary master, and me, can tear apart a car’s engine and put it back together. And I’m female.
You might want to have mentioned to fake a yawn, and change the subject to the weather. 😂 lol!!
That was entertainment 101!! You made my day.

I’m stressed out by a know it all. I can’t see beyond today, stuck with a know it all in lockdown and feeling very anxious. I bury everything around them, no reason to say anything because everything I say gets shot down or I get smarmy advice I didn’t ask for.

The pandemic has made me realize the person is crazy. And if you don’t think 100% on every subject the way they do you get corrected and told what to think.

The looks the person gives me are annoying, smarmy fake smile. So demeaning .

Rachel I totally understand. It is difficult for me as I am a generally insecure person and don’t handle confrontation well. I get very defensive when someone questions why I do something, in a snarky sort of way, and I feel foolish and am at a loss for words. I was raised to be nice to others, so having a snappy comeback is difficult for me to achieve.

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How to Tell Her She Hurt You (Without Turning It Into a Big Fight)

Sometimes in a relationship, you’re not sure how to phrase a delicate subject or tricky topic. Sure, saying nothing at all is easy, but avoiding the subject doesn’t do anyone any good. Awkward Conversations provides you with a template for what to say — and what not to say — and why, so you can have those difficult discussions without them turning into full-blown fights.

It’s not easy to tell someone — anyone — that they hurt you. It’s even less easy when it’s your girlfriend and you’re worried you might seem sensitive or weak! It’s perfectly normal for men to experience hurt feelings in the course of a long-term relationship, for any number of reasons. But the fact that we have no cultural scripts for it in movies or TV can make this an extra hard conversation to have.

Never fear: we have some tips on how to make this go as smoothly as possible. Everybody is capable of hurting and being hurt: what distinguishes grown-ups from children is that the former should be able to handle it with grace.

1. Don’t Minimize Your Hurt – Address It Up Front

“I wanted to be honest with you. I’m thinking about [X thing that you did]. I’m hurt about it. I feel sad.”

This kind of vulnerable admission can be scary as hell, but that’s why it’s important. Don’t sweep the issue under the table, or play it off like it is a minor problem. If you were hurt by something your partner did and you pretend you’re not, this will fester inside you and cause resentment (which can erupt in anger later).Would you want your girlfriend to act like things were fine when they weren’t? No, so don’t do it yourself.

Tell her simply and clearly how you’re feeling. It will make her much more empathetic and she’ll be less likely to go on the defensive! Instead of accusing her, use statements about your own emotions (“I’m feeling”) to defuse any tension in the conversation. That reframes the discussion (from her own actions to the consequences of those actions).

2. Explain Why It’s Bothering You

“When you compared me to your ex, it made me feel insecure — like I’m not good enough. I keep thinking about it because it makes me feel you’re not as happy with me as you were with him.”

Remember, she likely had no intention of hurting you — she was probably being careless and had no idea how her words would land! So how would she understand unless you break it down for her?

Do explain so that she knows where she went wrong and so that she doesn’t do it again. Be patient — yes, you might feel silly having to spell it out, but it’s always better to provide context and clarification. Your feelings are valid no matter what, but it helps if you can explain why they exist.

3. Don’t Generalize

Resist the temptation to say “You always do X” or “You’re a hurtful person.” Generalizing is a habit that’s hard to break, but in this case it is unhelpful. All you’re doing is antagonizing her! She has to let her guard down, and this won’t happen if you’re making wide-ranging statements about her bad behavior or general tendency to hurt her feelings. If she isn’t actually a repeat offender, refrain from characterizing it that way.

Keep it to the specific. “That night, when you gossiped about us to your friends — that bothered me.” That way, you have a peg for her to refer to: That’s something that she can’t refute. She has to address it fairly; this is a much better outcome than you two getting into a shouting match.

4. Don’t Get Angry If She’s Defensive

“What do you mean, you don’t think you did anything wrong? You messed up. You acted like a terrible person. How can you have zero accountability?”

Most people are very, very resistant to the idea that they are capable of causing hurt especially if they didn’t mean to. Say you confront her, and she doesn’t immediately apologize and fall at your feet begging for forgiveness. (It would be strange if she did!)

Remain calm. Don’t freak out. You’re in the right here, and you can help her see that little by little. If you get angry, lose your cool and turn the conversation into a big relationship fight, you’re essentially undoing all your good work. Your anger won’t make her any more sympathetic to your cause, remember!

“I get that you don’t think you did anything wrong. But I still got hurt, and your intent doesn’t change the impact of what happened. I hope you can see that.”

This is an excellent way to frame it. By pointing out to her that intent doesn’t diminish impact, you’re refuting her logically without getting red in the face about it, or shouting her down. If you put it in this kind of way, she will be much more open to seeing (and hopefully admitting!) her mistakes.

5. Finally, Give Her A Way Forward

“I don’t know where we go from here, but I am confident we can figure it out. I love you, and I told you this because I don’t ever want to be hurt like this again. Please think about it and let’s try to be more careful with each other’s feelings.”

It’s not enough to tell her she hurt you. What do you want? Where do you see this going? If you want her to make amends, great. Tell her so, but tell her gently, and end on a positive note.

In the face of bad news, people search for ways to cope: what can they do to mitigate the situation? What concrete action can they take? If you offer her some examples of concrete actions — “Let’s promise not to say careless/casually hurtful things to each other” — she’ll feel much more reassured and likely follow your lead. Your relationship will only be stronger for it. Good luck!

How to tell someone they are wrongHow to tell someone they are wrong How to tell someone they are wrong

We live in a confused and fallen world, and that confusion extends everywhere, so that even the most basic questions, like “what gender am I?” become difficult for some people to answer. Some people claim they were born as the wrong gender, or at least in the wrong body. A man may believe he is actually a female, but his soul is “stuck” in a male body. Such claims receive support from others who advocate a “gender-neutral” society. But those who view gender distinctions as nothing more than arbitrary labels or a “box” to be broken out of are actively rejecting God’s design in creation.

Fundamental to our understanding of human sexuality is that God created two (and only two) genders. Currently, the world likes to consider gender (based on a social construct) as having nothing to do with sex (based on physicality), but the Bible makes no such distinctions. The Bible cuts through the world’s confusion simply: “Male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). All the modern-day speculation about multiple genders—or even a gender “continuum” with unlimited genders—is unbiblical. An individual may claim to be transgender or “gender-fluid,” but that doesn’t nullify God’s design and purpose in creating him or her.

Children growing up in this confused world are bombarded with messages of confusion. Little boys are told they don’t have to be boys; girls are told they might not really be girls. Whatever they feel they are is what they are—boy, girl, or a mixture of the two. The world tells them it doesn’t matter. The confusion and ambiguity are reinforced in many ways: gender-neutral days at school, the banning of terms such as boys and girls in the classroom, the proliferation of unisex restrooms, curricula that promotes homosexual marriage, etc. It’s little wonder that some people grow up struggling with their sexual identity. But our Lord warned against leading children astray: “Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble’” (Luke 17:1–2).

Some people today state that they have “felt like the opposite gender since they were children.” But how would one know that? To what are they comparing their feelings? How people feel is all they know, and, for each person, how he feels is “normal” for him. Any comparisons to other people’s feelings would only be an assumption. Some people may become convinced that they “felt like the opposite gender” at some point in their lives, but they don’t truly have a baseline comparison.

Given enough conditioning, any one of us can be convinced that we identify more as the opposite gender. Too often, certain individuals are labeled as cross-gendered because of natural differences in mannerisms and responses, and those individuals “back-paint” the concept into their understanding of their childhood.

But this reimagining of one’s childhood is different from wishing to be another gender. A person can wish he was the other gender for many reasons, but that doesn’t make it internally so. A parent can instill that desire in a child, or a child can observe benefits enjoyed by the other gender and desire them. The child can also desire to be seven feet tall, but it doesn’t change reality.

The Bible says that God created “male and female” and He pronounced His creation “very good” (Genesis 1:27, 31). God’s plan was perfect, but, as with everything in mankind’s sphere, perfection was corrupted by sin. Sin negatively impacted the entirety of creation, hurting not only humanity’s relationship with God, but with one another and the rest of the created order. Our world is fallen, and the effects of sin permeate everything. Diseases, birth defects, natural disasters, sinful acts, and the negative results of others’ sin and our own sin can all be traced back to the fall. Sometimes these negative effects come in the form of naturally occurring anomalies; other times they are more directly traced to specific sin. Could an anomaly sometimes occur in gender, physically or mentally? We acknowledge that a person can be born with a combination of male and female organs—although one’s true, biological sex can be determined through medical tests.

This we know, that we are involved in a spiritual battle for our souls. The world seeks to conform us to its mold, which is why we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1–2). Satan attempts to deceive us and urges us to question God’s plan. One of the devil’s ploys is to make us dissatisfied with how God made us. To some he whispers, “You’re fat and ugly.” To others, “You’re stupid and clumsy.” And to still others, “You look like a boy, but you’re really a girl.” In each case, the underlying message is the same: “God messed up on you.”

This we also know, that the whole creation groans for release from the curse and damage of sin (Romans 8:20–22). The ruin wrought by sin is addressed through the redemption of Christ. Through salvation, Jesus Christ grants us forgiveness of sin, reverses the effect of our poor choices, and compensates for our brokenness.

Each of us faces a different set of battles. Yet Christ sets us on the path to victory. Hebrews 12:1–2 states, “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” The cross is key. Jesus pioneered our faith, and He will perfect it. His victory will be ours as well.

Some may battle heterosexual temptation, greed, pride, anger, or any number of sins. Someone else may battle gender confusion. Regardless of the battle with sin and the devil’s lies, the question we must answer is, “Is Christ and His redemptive work sufficient for our battles?” Jesus definitely claims to be sufficient for any and all of our battles, and He desires to sanctify us through His Word of truth (John 17:17).

As children of God, we should be content in this life (Philippians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 12:10). We realize that we all have limitations, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. But through Christ those limitations will not interfere with the plan God has for us to honor Him and serve Him. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

If a person feels he or she has been born as the wrong gender, the answer is not gender-reassignment surgery, hormone therapy, cross-dressing, etc. Those are simply worldly ways of acquiescing to the devil’s lies. “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6). And God does not make mistakes. The one who feels he or she was born in the wrong body needs, first and foremost, to experience the transformative power of Christ. When we “participate in the divine nature,” we escape “the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:4).

If you already have a partner, congratulations, you’ve beaten the system.

For the rest of us, modern dating is a minefield. There are so many rules and games to play it’s easy to lose track. You might be “left on read” by someone you really liked, and your mind may spin out of control when you’re over-analysing what their last few messages really meant.

The woes don’t necessarily stop when you find someone. With Tinder right at your fingertips, it’s tempting to go back and see if there is someone out there who is just a bit more perfect. With so much available choice, how are you supposed to know if someone is right for you? When should you stop over-thinking and finally commit?

Business Insider asked nine relationship experts for the signs to look out for when you’re trying to figure out if someone is right for you.

Here’s what they said:

1. They pass the ‘bar test’

“As simple as this may seem, I call it the ‘bar test’ to know if you’re with the right person. When you’re at a bar (or restaurant, wherever) with your new partner, are you looking around to see who else is out there or who might see you two together? Or, are you perfectly content with your partner, and you want everyone there to notice you with him/her? If the latter is true, then he/she passes the test. But if it’s the former, it might be time to decide whether being in a relationship with this person is your best option.”

— Erika Ettin, dating coach and founder of dating site A Little Nudge

2. They don’t hold you back

“A person who can authentically be excited about your success and goals in life is someone who won’t feel the need to hold you back. Most unhealthy relationships include some form of sabotaging of one partner. Dating someone who is happy with their life means they can be happy for you and alongside of you.”

3. They don’t want to change you

“When you listen to your heart, you’ll feel whether or not the person you’re dating is right for you. This is known as ‘intuition’ — your heart’s message to you. Almost everyone can think back and recall a time when they didn’t listen to it. When you feel good, feel that your partner is patient and true, treats you the same in public as he/she does at home, then you’re on the right path. Keep in mind that your intuition may send out warnings as well. It may come as a gut reaction. For example, if your partner wants to change you in any way. He/she is not accepting you for who you are. If that happens, run. That is a sign of a controlling person and he/she will never treat you properly.”

— Tracy Malone, founder of Narcissist Abuse Support.

4. They fit into your life

“A good sign that someone is right for you is if you can imagine that person fitting in to other parts of your life and not just living in a microcosm of the relationship. Ask yourself: Do they get along with the other people in my life? Do I get along with their friends and family? Do we have mutual interests and things that we enjoy doing together that can be a source of sustainability in a relationship? If the answer is yes, then you may be on the right track.”

— Holly Daniels, a doctor who specialises anxiety, co-dependency, and relationship addiction at Sober College

5. They listen to you

“One of the signs that your date is likely to make a good mate is that the he or she shows genuine interest in your life and listens attentively when you are speaking. They also remember things that you have told them about yourself.

“Conversely, if the person that you are dating nearly always monopolises the conversation, does not ask you about yourself or your day, and then tunes you out when you start speaking, these are clear signals that your date is not really very interested in you as a person except as an audience for them. If they are not interested now at the beginning of the relationship, they are likely to be even less interested later on.”

6. They’re happy when you’re happy

“It certainly helps if you’re dating someone that you want to make happy and who wants to make you happy in return. Couples who each truly place the needs and wants of their partners on par with or above their own seem handle a lifetime of compromising, juggling priorities, and collaborating better than couples who individually pursue their own best interests.”

— Laura VanderDrift, associate professor of psychology at Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences and director of the Close Relationships Lab at Syracuse University

7. They comfort you when you’re sad

“One of the major signs that tells you if the person you’re dating is right for you is how they treat you when you’re sad, crying, having a bad day, or just emotional. Are they compassionate? Are they attentive? Do they stop what they’re doing to give you their attention? Are they distracted when you’re expressing your feelings and most of all, do they know when to just give you a hug? It may seem simple but this is a very important trait to know what kind of human being the person is. If they criticise you for being sad or tell you that how you feel is silly that you’re over-reacting, that may be something to pay attention to. They could show signs of narcissism. Although later, you may think you were over-reacting, it may be just as important to know you were being listened to in the onset.”

Catenya McHenry, journalist and author of “Married to a Narcissist”

8. They have boundaries

“Something that is important is whether this person has boundaries. Boundaries are important because it means someone isn’t a pushover, and they can communicate when they are unhappy. When we are unhappy and we don’t say anything, our resentment builds up and boils over. Some women prefer the man to take charge. Some women want the man to be more passive. So you’ve got to think about your values. In healthy relationships, growth is very important, generally in the same direction, so you need to be able to have arguments, and conflicts and points of disagreements without killing each other. Rather it’s an opportunity to say, hey, this is how your brain works, this is how I feel, and can we actually learn from each other in this point in time, and grow in the same general direction, with our own wisdom and our own failures.”

— Perpetua Neo, psychologist, expert in toxic relationships, and creator of the Detox Your Heart program

9. The balance is in their favour

“One of the first ports of call of an effective narcissist or an effective manipulator is to dissociate you from your own capacity to listen to yourself and your own intuition. Once he’s marginalised your intuition, you then margianalise your common sense and your friends and other things. So I think it starts at a very subtle level, to listen to that sense that maybe something is wrong here, and just keeping yourself aware of that voice.

“Maybe it sounds a bit cruel, but in the fog of love, we abandon that voice quite quickly, because the other person is quickly perfect. So it can seem cruel to ask yourself, if anything were wrong here, what would I select first about what might be wrong? But when you give yourself permission to ask that question, then the intuition and the hunches can come back. And you may decide that you’ve considered them, there are ten things you don’t like that much, but there are a thousand things you love. Then great, get on with loving them. But ask yourself that question, and give yourself permission to consider those other things. It can salvage your intuition, and that part of you for good reason, although that may not be comfortable.”

In a world where our body obsession has reached critical mass, and the media monitors celebrity bodies like they’re public property, I want to reiterate my position on how to compliment someone on their weight loss.

My position is: you don’t.

You don’t tell a person who has lost weight that their weight loss is ‘goals.’ That they’re ‘so tiny.’

Or even worse, that they ‘look a lot better.’ Yikes. Don’t do that, please.

I recently put up this Instagram post from Jessica Simpson, on my Facebook.

My caption was that I found it extremely uncomfortable that she had put this image up on her social feeds, in particular because she has a well-known history of overexercising, diet pill addiction, and disordered eating.

Even more uncomfortable was that scrolling through the comments on her post was like a dumpster fire of people ignoring her history to compliment her extreme thinness.

How to tell someone they are wrong

I realize that losing weight is hard work, and yes, many people want to give or receive acknowledgement for that hard work.

Ultimately, how you approach this situation is up to you, but before you say anything, there are some things to consider.

Commenting on weight loss reinforces the thinking that thin is good, and fat is bad.

Why do we regard weight loss as something positive and worthy of our attention? When somebody gains weight, we don’t comment.

We don’t compliment them on how much fatter they look or ask them what diet they’re following.

Why do we fall all over ourselves when someone loses weight, thinking that it’s such a fabulous achievement that supposedly everyone is aiming for?

Why is fat bad, and thin good? How did we get here?

Why is calling somebody ‘fat’ an insult, while calling someone ‘thin,’ a compliment?

It’s a learned behavior, taught to us by a culture that reveres thinness. Let’s not contribute to that narrative.

If our society wasn’t so incredibly messed up about weight and bodies and looks and fat versus thin, we wouldn’t give a thought to how thin a person’s body is.

Maybe we’d start complimenting them on – and talking about – things that are actually more interesting and meaningful, like how happy they look (which, by the way, is a great alternative to the ‘you’ve lost weight, you look great!’ compliment).

Or, what a great friend they are, or the great things they’ve achieved off the scale.

And while we’re at it, by taking the step to compliment someone on their weight loss, what are you implying about the way they looked before?

What if they gain the weight back, do you take the compliment back?

It’s sort of like telling your friend that you always hated her ex-boyfriend, and then they get back together. Awkward.

You don’t know why they’ve lost weight.

Sure, some weight loss might be intentional, but what if it’s not? What if that person is going through a really stressful time, or if they’re sick with a sinister disease that you don’t know about?

What if something is actually wrong?

This one applies especially to those people who you don’t know well. If you’re not into every corner of a person’s personal life, don’t start assuming that they’ve intentionally lost weight, or that they’re happy about it.

Commenting on someone’s body size is intrusive and gross.

If you’re dying to say something, ‘you look great today!’ is a lot better than ‘you look skinny!’ Honestly, bodies are private property. Stay off, don’t trespass.

It might seem like everyone would happily accept a compliment about how thin they look, but that’s actually not true.

Especially if you don’t know someone well, commenting on their body is a bit skeevy. (Here are 6 things about food and weight you should never say to anyone)

Sometimes I think that these body-centric comments aren’t even about the person who lost weight, they’re actually about the person who’s dishing them out and how they feel about themselves.

More times than not, when I’ve received these comments, they appear to come from a place of dissatisfaction and wistfulness.

As in, ‘you’re so tiny! I wish I looked like that!’.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that someone who’s comfortable with their own body really doesn’t need to comment on somebody else’s, because they don’t really care about how everybody else looks.

I have a sneaking suspicion that if you’re constantly commenting to other people about how they’ve lost weight, you should probably turn those thoughts inward to see what’s really going on with you.

And maybe the bigger lesson here is to stop comparing yourself to other people and start making steps towards loving yourself (and minding your own business, that too).

You have no idea who or what could be triggered

If the weight loss is the product of an eating disorder (and no, you might not know that a person has one, even if they look ‘normal,’ or even if you’re friends) or, the person has a predisposition to or history of disordered eating, a comment about how thin they look can be a major trigger.

It can trigger them to want to lose more weight, and it can also cause them serious anxiety.

Let’s step away from the ‘weight loss is always good, because thin = better’ mindset.

It’s not only untrue, it’s completely none of your business what somebody else weighs and why. We need to take the focus off of weight and put it on what really matters.

If you’re wondering how to compliment someone on their weight loss, take a step back. Tell them that they’re a great friend; a beautiful person, or a good cook.

Tell them you love to see that smile on their face, or that they look happy.

Not everyone is trying to lose weight: more and more people are focusing on their overall health and figuring out that weight does not equal worth.

Finally. Let’s support that and stop acting like weight loss is the holy grail for everyone.

Whether it is or it isn’t, just keep your eyes – and your body comments – to yourself.

How to tell someone they are wrong Below are 4 helpful tips for how to respond when someone treats you badly – so you teach this person that you won’t accept their negative behavior.

Unfortunately, I’ve endured many times in my life when people have treated me badly.

There’s a famous expression:

“We teach people how to treat us.”

In many ways this is true.

As you might know, I’m a bestselling psychological author with over 2 million books sold.

I researched everything I could about setting strong boundaries – and gathered together a range of psychological tools to help defend against toxic people.

After reading this article, you’ll know how to respond when someone treats you badly.

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If you need further support to disarm difficult people and maintain stronger boundaries, I enthusiastically recommend you explore my popular online course Manage and Avoid Drama Llamas.

Already this course has helped many thousands of people around the world to reduce drama, conflict, stress and enjoy more inner peace.

Below are 4 of my favorite tools which I’ve personally used whenever a person is treating me badly.

4 Effective Tactics I’ve Used When Someone is Treating Me Badly.

Tactic 1: I immediately think of my life as a “toxic-free zone.”

In the same way that I don’t allow dairy into my life because I’m lactose intolerant, I tell myself that I don’t allow toxic people into my life because I am “allergic” to toxic people – and need to live in a “toxic free zone.”

How to tell someone they are wrongI remind myself that my emotional health is equally important as my physical health.

Basically, in the same what that I am 100% committed to resisting dairy (because it’s bad for me), I remain determined to not allow toxic people into my life – because they’re bad for me.

Tactic #2: I use this helpful mantra.

I learned this healing mantra tool from my son – who is obviously an old soul.

My son as a toddler was telling the bullies in his kindergarten class a loud “No thank you!” – whenever one of them said something mean to hurt his feelings.

I now borrow my son’s mantra whenever someone is treating me badly.

Silently I think to myself: “No thank you!” Then I move on and away from the person – as soon as I can.

Sometimes, after the stressful event has passed, I practice my son’s mantra as a meditation:

  • I close my eyes and envision the negative person who treated me badly.
  • Next, I imagine telling them to their face, “No thank you! No thank you! No Thank you!”
  • Finally, I imagine the toxic person fading away into nothingness – or becoming smaller and smaller. Very therapeutic.

Tactic #3 I recognize that hurt people hurt people.

How to tell someone they are wrongBasically, I try not to personalize a mean person’s cruel behavior.

I remind myself that if I feel hurt by a mean person, that they are not hurting me because I am me. They are doing it because they are who they are!

This reminder helps me to release some of the offender’s negative toxins from my system – so I can start to return back to my happier, calmer self.

Remember: Often toxic people thrive on creating drama.

This is how toxic people were programmed to thrive.

Drama is their familiar place to be – because of events from their past.

You don’t want to feed their craving.

So breathe in deeply. Let go of the thoughts that piss you off. Get yourself calm and centered. Then when you’re calm, consider speaking to your offender about your boundaries.

How to tell someone they are wrongTactic #4 After I’m calm, I talk to my offender about my boundaries.

I speak to the offending person in factual and logical terms about why I am hurt.

First, I explain why I feel they treated me badly – by trying to get them to see the “cause and effects” of their actions.

So I start by describing the effects their behavior had on my feelings and life.

I try to use “soft language” and own my feelings by using the word “I”:

  • “I did not appreciate____”
  • “I’m disappointed about ____”
  • “I felt hurt about _____”

I avoid emotionally charged words and try not to use the word “you” at them:

  • “You made me furious when you____”
  • “You’re an a***h***!”

When I’m done, I ask them…

  • If they can see how they might have “accidentally” hurt me
  • How they might do things differently in the future – so we can have the “best relationship possible”

I purposefully put the solution in their court first. If I’m not happy with their suggestions, I make a few suggestions for how things might go more smoothly in the future – for both of us..

My last step…

  • I thank the challenging person for listening to what I had to say.

Remember…

  • Your goal is not to win this particular argument.

Your goals are..

  1. Find a way to live a peaceful life – without the difficult person’s negativity being a constant in your life.
  2. Keep the toxic person at a safe emotional distance.
  3. Feel good that you are operating as your highest self. So make sure you remain a kind person. Yes, even to jerks. Let them be a jerk. You be a kind person.

Reminder:

Maturity is when you have the power to destroy someone who did you wrong. But you just breathe and let karma deal with them.

How to tell someone they are wrong

In summary…

If someone is treating you badly, remember…

  • What you put up with, you end up with! What you allow continues. So make sure you state your boundaries clearly.
  • Keep in mind the costs this toxic person will play to your emotional health if you allow their bad behavior to continue.
  • Think of yourself as living in a “toxic free zone.”

Tired of dealing with toxic people?

Join my ground breaking video course Manage and Avoid Drama Llamas!

I will give you video training (in short 3 – 10 minute bursts) to help you disarm narcissists, liars, manipulators, emotional vampires, and high conflict people. You’ll learn how to create better boundaries. Already these psychological strategies have helped many thousands of people around the world.

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Persuasion is hard, especially when people have different perspectives, worldview, mindsets and values in life. Our brains are faster at processing opinions we agree with than those we disagree with.

“A little over a decade ago Leonid Rozenblit and Frank Keil from Yale University suggested that in many instances people believe they understand how something works when in fact their understanding is superficial at best. They called this phenomenon “the illusion of explanatory depth”, writes Tom Stafford of the BBC.

Even though you’ve done your homework, and your arguments are well researched and founded, don’t expect people to agree with you all the time. Everyone who crosses your path may have a different view about topics you deeply care about.

People rarely change their minds, which makes persuasion even harder but not impossible. The economist J.K. Galbraith once wrote, “Faced with a choice between changing one’s mind and proving there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy with the proof.”

We don’t always believe things because they are correct. Sometimes we believe things because they make us look good to the people we care about.

In some situations, fear of change is the ultimate nemesis of persuasion, says Rob Jolles, author of How to Change Minds: The Art of Influence Without Manipulation. Jolles explains, “If it’s a small problem in another person’s eyes, fear of change will shoot down any solution. If it’s a big problem, you have to help others move past their fear of change.”

As difficult as persuasion is in life and at work, at some point, you will have the difficult task of convincing a colleague at work, or a close relation to agree with you. In spite of differing points of view, you can still find common ground with the other person.

Show them how they’re right

If you start any conversation by telling someone they’re wrong, you will only make the other person defensive, causing them to entrench themselves further in their beliefs.

Instead, listen carefully, pay attention, be curious about their ideas, and tell them all the ways they’re right, before guiding them to realize they’re wrong on their own. You have to help them move past their own perspectives, beliefs, and biases. Show them what they may not be aware of.

This approach to persuasion goes back to the 17th-century philosopher Blaise Pascal who found that the best way to help people change their own minds is to first show them how they are right.

In Pensées,✎ EditSign✎ EditSign Pascal writes, “When we wish to correct with advantage and to show another that he errs, we must notice from what side he views the matter, for on that side it is usually true, and admit that truth to him, but reveal to him the side on which it is false. He is satisfied with that, for he sees that he was not mistaken and that he only failed to see all sides… People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others.”

When you tell someone they are wrong, they will get offended because it feels like a personal attack on their intellect. Once you do that, your chance of connecting with them, or convincing them from a different perspective goes out the window.

Arthur Markman, psychology professor at The University of Texas at Austin, says this approach works well because you’re giving someone the opportunity to lower their guard and permission to change their mind without fear of it making them look bad.

In your effort to persuade anyone, don’t aim to just win, provide them with information that will lead them to their own enlightenment. Convincing someone to change their mind is really the process of convincing them to change their entrenched beliefs. It takes more than your own beliefs.

Nobody wants their worldview torn apart. People have strong attachments to their opinions. To change someone’s mind, you also need to address their emotional attachment to what they believe — acknowledge their right arguments to increase the chances of convincing them.

Aim to connect — Be kind first, be right later

Japanese writer Haruki Murakami once wrote, “Always remember that to argue, and win, is to break down the reality of the person you are arguing against. It is painful to lose your reality, so be kind, even if you are right.”

Keep an open mind, and meet them halfway, before you make your case. Don’t make them feel worse about their current beliefs.

In a conversation, you can easily forget that the goal to connect with the other person, and sometimes collaborate with them. Focusing on just winning can backfire — connect first.

Art Markman, Ph.D., a professor of Psychology explains, “Develop counterarguments to their most significant sources of support. Then expose them to more pieces of information that are consistent with the new belief. It’s also important to provide all of this information from multiple sources. After all, the easiest way for people to maintain their current beliefs is to decide that any contrary information is unreliable,”

In a difficult conversation, explain precisely why you think you are right. Don’t lead with our own perspective and what the other person needs to do to change.

Take a step back and truly try to understand the other person’s perspective, validate his or her point of view — and then work with them to arrive at your desired outcome or solution.

“If you want people to adopt your beliefs, you need to act more like a scout and less like a soldier. At the center of this approach is a question Tiago Forte poses beautifully, “Are you willing to not win in order to keep the conversation going?”, writes James Clear.

People are more likely to change their mind if they reach the conclusion for themselves, not because you told them. Work with people to change their minds.

People can easily feel your stubbornness if you are defensive about your beliefs. A better way involves more listening and less trying to get the other person into submission.

How to tell someone they are wrong

Adoptive parents often worry about how to tell their child they are adopted. At some point all children will question their parents about where they come from to try to understand who they are. Telling your child they are adopted can cause anxiety and be a stressful time.

Remember that this is an important moment in your child’s life and you don’t want to get it wrong. There isn’t a right time to tell your child that they are adopted but its best to tell them as early as possible. This is to avoid them learning about their adoption from anyone else, or feeling that their adoption is a bad thing. Adopted children should be made to feel very positive about their adoption and reassured that they are accepted and loved by their parents and family.

For some children being told that they are adopted may be confusing. They may ask questions about their birth parents like where and who their birth parents are and why they gave them away. You may find some of these questions hard to answer and they may bring up the subject of their adoption a number of times. The story around a child’s adoption should be as simple and positive as possible.

An adopted child needs to be:

  • Reassured that they are special
  • Helped to understand why they are not being raised by their birth parents
  • Reminded how much they are loved

You should try not tell your child hurtful details about their birth parents that will make them feel bad about themselves, like violence, neglect or abuse. As your child grows up they will continue to ask more questions about their adoption. This is a natural part of their development and these questions should be tackled without parents becoming angry or upset. It is important to try to always be positive and prepared to answer questions whenever they come up. A confident parent who is at ease with their child’s adoption will help their child feel comfortable about being adopted and proud of who they are.

Tips on telling you child

  • Tell your child that they are adopted when they are young, don’t risk the chance of them finding out from a family member or a friend.
  • Be very positive about why your child came to live with you and could not stay with their birth parents. Keep the story about their background very simple to help your child understand it.
  • Explain to them that being adopted does not mean they are loved any less than a child who is with their birth parents.
  • Let them know how excited you were when they came to live with you and how special they are to you and the family.
  • Find simple ways such as role playing, storytelling, or using a scrapbook with their early pictures to explain what adoption means to your child.
  • Be very positive to your child about their adoption to help them accept it as a normal part of their own identity.
  • Be sensitive to your child either becoming upset, confused or asking lots of questions about their adoption.
  • Be aware that your child may be calm when you tell them and react later, be prepared for this.
  • Be patient if your child wants to talk about their adoption again and again and give them lots of reassurance.
  • If you are finding it hard talking to your child about their adoption, try not to show it too much. Your child will pick up on this and feel that their adoption is a bad thing.
  • Tell your child the truth but remember if they are very young, some information may be very hurtful so hold this back.
  • Try and think about some of the questions your child may ask and what your answers will be before you talk to them.
  • Make sure you are able to give your child your full attention without phone calls or interruptions.
  • Remember that if your child becomes angry this is a natural reaction as they’re probably feeling very confused.

Adopted children identify with their adopted family but also have their own identity as an adopted child. Some children may need to ask questions to understand what has happened in their life, especially if their adoption brings them into a new culture or environment. This can be the same whether the child is adopted at birth or as an older child. As adoptive parents you can positively influence how your child feels about their identity. Find out as much as you can about your child’s background, or culture, and encourage them to talk openly about this part of who they are. Confusion or questions about who we are come up for most of us at some time in our lives. Appreciating your child’s identity and positively tackling issues as they come up will help your child understand that they should acknowledge and be proud of who they are.

So, you messed up. Maybe you missed a deadline, made an glaring error, or had a tense miscommunication with a coworker. It happens. There are endless ways to mess up at work. But luckily, there are almost just as many ways you can make things right.

We all know that apologizing is a crucial social skill, but what’s the best way to say sorry in the workplace?

There’s more to it than shrugging and saying, “I’m sorry.” An effective apology is one that acknowledges a situation and ultimately makes things better. It’s a learned skill, and not one that comes naturally. If you take some time to be thoughtful, you can learn some techniques to make your apologies as smooth as they can be. Once you have that down, you can make all the mistakes you want. (I’m kidding. Don’t do that.)

Why apologize?

Saying sorry is something that comes naturally to most people—and sometimes too naturally. But some people don’t stop to think about it at all. In general, most apologies serve two major purposes:

  1. It demonstrates remorse for your actions.
  2. It acknowledges the feelings of other people affected by your actions.

At work this is particularly important: apologizing opens up a dialog with your coworkers and can serve to re-establish trust or repair relationships. It’s also a way to demonstrate your sense of accountability.

While an apology might seem trivial or unnecessary in some situations, owning your mistake and suggesting a solution can go a long way. Admitting fault might seem like a failure, but it’s not. Taking responsibility for a mistake shows integrity, courage, and empathy—valuable traits in the workplace.

And always remember that an apology isn’t for your benefit. A true apology is for the person on the other side, so always put them first.

8 steps to apologize effectively at work

Saying sorry in the workplace is delicate. Depending on the severity of your mistake (especially if there are legal or PR repercussions), finding the courage to apologize can be hard. But not apologizing can make things worse. So let’s get into it. Consider these eight steps before attempting to smooth things over.

Start from sincerity

There’s no point in apologizing if you don’t mean it. This is a basic tenet of apologies, one that we’ve all learned as children. People can tell when you’re not sincere, and an insincere apology is more than worthless: it’s disrespectful.

If you don’t feel like what you did or said was wrong, than consider the effect it had and the way it affected other people on your team. Can you admit that their their feelings are worth addressing? Or even acknowledge that a mistake simply made other people’s lives just a little bit harder. Always start from a sincere place.

Empathize with enthusiasm

Really put yourself in another person’s shoes. What would you want to hear if the situation were reversed? Talk yourself through the steps to truly understand where they are coming from and how they are feeling. Do they feel betrayed? Frustrated? Embarrassed? Understanding the emotions involved makes the rest of your apology much easier.

Take true responsibility

Understand how you messed up, and own it. For me, this is usually the hardest part. My instinct is to be defensive. I hate being wrong! But owning a mistake conveys to the other person that you’re sincere and empathize with how they feel. It’s the part of saying sorry that some people skip, but it demonstrates courage and confidence.

Validate the other person’s feelings

We aren’t robots. Humans are emotional creatures that need to be acknowledged and to have others know that our feelings are legitimate. Take into account—and communicate that you understand—specifically how your actions affected others. It goes a long way in repairing the damage.

It can help to articulate those feelings out loud:

  • “I can see how this made you feel left out
  • “I don’t want to undermine your authority
  • “I should be more respectful of your privacy

You’re letting the other person know that you understand how they feels and that you want to make amends.

Don’t make excuses, but provide a rationale

This is tricky ground that we’ve all tried to walk at some point. It’s a fine line between an excuse and a reason. Saying “My dog ate my homework” is an excuse (and probably a lie!), but saying “I had trouble understanding the homework,” offers a rationale and explanation for why it wasn’t handed in.

While not a justification, it can be helpful to explain yourself. But if you can’t tell whether you’re making an excuse or providing a reason, it’s better not to say anything.

Embrace the awkward

Let’s face it: apologizing can be super awkward. There’s really no way to avoid it. I sometimes want to make a joke to lighten the situation, but it usually doesn’t go over well. The time you should wait before making a joke is correlated to how big that mistake is. In other words: patience before punchlines.

Instead, be upfront to address the elephant in the room: “This is awkward, but I need to apologize.” Being candid can help deflate some of the tension.

Suggest ways to make up for your mistake

Researchers at the University of Miami found that “the extent to which a transgressor offered conciliatory gestures to their victims was directly proportional to the extent to which those victims forgave over time.”

I always offer a solution for a mistake, or suggest ways to prevent it from happening in the future. If you’re making promises about the future, be realistic. Messing up once is OK, and people are generally understanding. But if you can’t follow through, it’s not going to reflect well on you. For me, it’s easy to want to over-promise. Resist the urge! It won’t help you in the long run.

Learn from it

We all screw up, it’s a part of life. All we can do is to extract a lesson and move on. And in this case, you can learn from your mistake and your apology.

I start by thinking how I can avoid this mistake in the future, or maybe navigate that situation better in the future. Was my apology well received? How could it have been better? Depending on what I did, it might take a few tries to actually stop making that mistake, but at the very least I try to take a nugget of wisdom from the situation.

Moving on

Eventually, you’ll find yourself having to apologize at work. Nobody’s perfect. But by owning your mistake, recognizing how your actions affected other people, and learning how to make things better, your next apology will hopefully be a bit easier.

Apologies are kind of uncomfortable, and that’s a good thing. It’s a reminder that we should consider other people’s feelings before acting, and a powerful disincentive for selfish behavior. In the end, saying sorry can only make you a better person.

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