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At a recent business meeting, I was trying to speak sense into someone who just kept counter-arguing against me. I always have a peaceful and relaxed tone when sharing different views, yet the other person was vehement.

Ultimately, it turned out that my prediction/opinion/view was actually right and since then the person is ignoring me or not talking to me in a normal way, despite having proven him wrong.

How to mend the working relationship with a person after a situation like this?

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Personally, if we have an argument and I can prove I'm right, I gained nothing. If you can prove that I'm wrong and what was the right information, I've learned something. –  gnasher729 Jul 20 at 19:37

5 Answers 5

Why do you have to mend anything with him? If you're right, you're right That's all there is to it. Why fight the fact that you're right?

  1. If you are wrong, cheerfully admit that you are wrong about it, be chill about being wrong and figure out how and why you went wrong.

  2. If you are are right about it, be chill about it, shake everybody's hand and move on.

At least, that's the way people should act.

Your coworker vehemently disagreed with you and now, he's proven vehemently wrong. What goes around comes around. He did it to himself, let him deal with it. Since he invested so much of himself into his disagreement, let him deal by himself, with the personal issues he has created for himself.

Be unapolegetic about being right, but make it clear to everyone that you have moved on and that you are keeping the lines of communication open and of course, your door open.

If you need his cooperation about a specific issue, you talked to him and you're not getting it, then his non-cooperation becomes a job performance issue and you need to raise with your manager the issue that he is not cooperating, or not cooperating in a timely, adequate fashion.

He blew up his side of the bridge with you. Let him rebuild it. It's only when you need him to cooperate with you and you're not getting it that his problem becomes your problem. And if it becomes your problem, make sure that your manager knows that it's their problem, too.

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That person is likely feeling embarrassed after being proved wrong, so he is probably trying to limit his interactions with you in order to avoid discomfort and further embarrassment.

To try to rectify this situation, continue speaking to the person in a friendly manner without any haughtiness or condescension. Do not bring up the subject that caused him to be embarrassed unless absolutely necessary. Try to indicate to him that you still value his opinions on things. Perhaps at the next meeting, you can ask his opinion on something, and if you agree, let him know and tell him you appreciate him providing his input. Even if you disagree with him again, you can still indicate to him that you understand his side of the argument and that you appreciate his input.

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They're probably feeling somewhat humiliated - through no fault of your own - after their vehemence followed by being shown to be wrong.

I'm not sure there's much you can do right now apart from remain calm and professional in your interactions with them. Over time hopefully they'll forget about their loss of face.

If their attitude to you interferes with work or they start displaying passive-aggressive behaviour (underperforming, dropping the ball etc.) it might be worth thinking about escalating (not with them, but with management). But tread carefully here.

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One thing that you can do is to avoid actively reminding them of the incident. In particular, don't mention it in conversation. –  Bart van Ingen Schenau Jul 20 at 12:38

Every knowledge worker I've ever known has a time constant. To explain:

When somebody correctly and politely tells me I'm wrong about something that's important to me, I know it typically takes me about a day to be able to admit it, and to say to that person "you are right! thank you for correcting me!"

That period of one day is my time constant.

In my career I have worked hard to shorten this amount of time, but I haven't been able to get it to less than a day. Successful entrepreneurs often have long time constants, because stubbornness is a virtue in that work.

I wonder what the time constant of your colleague is? You have correctly and politely told him he's wrong about something, and he has not yet taken it on board. A time constant of more than a week or two is probably excessive.

What can you do about this? I think you should ask him for a personal and private conversation, and ask him why he's so annoyed. He, not you, is responsible for his behavior, but your conversation may help him to sort out this issue.

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How to fix it: In terms of smoothing things over, I would say a tiny apology would be in order. You don't have to say you were wrong (maybe you were very calm and kind in the meeting), just apologize for the unpleasant situation by saying something like, "Hey, I'm sorry things got heated the other day." It's just a way of saying, "I don't like this situation either and I don't want you to be upset." Do not follow up with something that'll bring the fight back up (i.e. "I was just so sure I want right").

How to prevent it: More importantly, I'd say is how to avoid this in the future. First, from your phrasing it sounds like the tone you have is condescending. "trying to speak sense into someone" seems to indicate that you see yourself and your opinion as innately superior. Try to work on being calmer in an argument. Maybe even pick up later after a cool down period. Humor people by listening to what they have to say as though it is valid before you even start forming a response in your head. Not only will it help them feel valued, but it may help you get in their head more in order to explain it in a way they'll understand. Second of all though, some people are just bad at admitting they are wrong and may get embarrassed about it. If it was in a meeting, maybe wait until the meeting is over to continue the confrontation rather than basically continuously pushing him to admit inferiority (being wrong) in front of a whole group. My dad used to be really bad at admitting he was wrong. I don't remember ever hearing those words. I did, however, realize that things would get to a point where I knew that he knew he was wrong. If you're concerned with outcomes and truth rather than pride and winning, that's enough. Make your bullet proof case, make sure they understand it, then you're done. You don't have to stick around battling for the glory.

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