You are Wrong!

When I was a kid, every once in awhile, my dad would say something that would stick with me. I don’t know if he realized it at the time, but some of those lines and stories would become foundational to me. He probably wasn’t thinking so at the time.

Recently I had the opportunity to share some wisdom with my son. Realizing the potential impact on his life, I decided to be intentional, to stop him and make sure he really heard me.

I don’t remember the backstory but I had said something to CJ and reality turned out to be different. He found me and started repeating, “Daddy, you were wrong…. Daddy you were wrong…. Daddy you were wrong….” He was following me around as I was working on something, repeating this over and over, and then telling me how I was wrong.

I stopped. In a gentle but confident way, I grabbed my son and put his face in my hands to make sure I had his attention. He was not in trouble. I just didn’t want him to miss this.

I said to him, “CJ, don’t ever start a conversation with ‘you were wrong,’ because the person won’t listen to anything else you have to say.”

Again, I was not mad at my son. I simply wanted him to learn a simple skill, to never ever start a conversation by telling someone they are wrong. It is a recipe for disaster.


  • This matters. I wonder how many wars could have been avoided by this simple truth? Do you know any marriages that ended because one or both partners couldn’t get away from this type of communication? Whether at home, work or the rest of our lives, we must learn a better way to communicate.
  • You can start differently. Do you normally start conversations by telling people they are wrong or by highlighting their shortcomings? Is there a better way? How else might you start a conversation?
  • Dignity, not fault, must come first. Remember, they may actually be wrong or at fault. This is not the most important though. We must learn to give dignity to people even when they mess up.

Please share your thoughts, questions and comments below or on social media.

Add yours ↓
  1. Trevor

    I hope I am able to recognize and act on those kinds of teachable moments as my daughter grows up. We just finished “How to Win Friends and Influence People” in our book club and this is one of the main tenets. You summed up about four chapters worth of content in this single post.

    June 2, 2015
    • adamsuter

      Wow! What a complement! Thank you Trevor.

      June 2, 2015
  2. Focus on Your Goal, Nothing Else | Adam Suter

    […] is another story from my children. We were swimming recently and our two oldest were racing across the pool. The older was using a […]

    June 16, 2015