Often in discussions at work especially in ambiguous situations, I hear people start with the phrase ‘Correct me if I am wrong’ or similar phrases like ‘This is just my understanding’, ‘I could be wrong here but’ etc.
People’s judgemental abilities are affected a lot by their acquired knowledge and application of their ability(there are 8 types of it), their experience in the field, depth in the language the conversation is going on. If we put 5 people with different backgrounds and experience in an ambiguous situation and feed them with a lot of data, chances are 100% that each of them will interpret the situation and information to be different.
So there is always a chance that people will disagree with each other’s opinions and when they respond negatively it is never on a person however the tone is, but it is on the idea. Most of the people do not realise this and think this as a confrontation that they must face which is very stressful, so they express their opinions with the starting phrase ‘Correct me if I am wrong’ to be safe when there is a disagreement.
Everything we say is our opinion which is shaped by our experience, abilities and the situation we are in. It won’t be concrete and will change when presented with the facts or perspectives. Carl Sagan expresses this in his book Cosmos where he says scientific community is built of opinions and humility. That is how the community advances, by embracing new proofs and discard their pet theories.
If you are in a situation where people are often using disclaimers, what all could you do?
- Make sure your tone of response is right and make it clear that the conversations are always about ideas not directed to the individual.
- Express the discomfort in people using disclaimers for expressing their opinions and set a safe conversation space.
- Stop using disclaimers in your conversations which some people may try to follow.
Help to co-ordinate the different minds to speak up and take advantage of the collective intelligence which is always better than the sharpest individual in the group.