A Broken Clock is Right Twice a Day: How to work with a coworker who always has to be right

June 28, 2016 by

How to work with a coworker who always has to be rightEver worked with a coworker who consistently needed to be right? Even when shown clear evidence to the contrary, some people cannot admit when they’re wrong. Simply put, working with that type of person is not fun.

Unfortunately, a stubborn attitude can create conflict in the workplace and threaten coworker comradery. Instead of letting yourself get pulled into an argument, try these 4 surefire strategies to successfully work with these know-it-alls:

1. Let them win. Rather than expending energy and time trying to convince them otherwise, redirect that energy toward a workplace issue or coworker that is far more important to you.

2. Walk away. Unless the stance this individual is taking will be severely damaging to your brand or customers, it is best to disengage yourself from the dialogue and simply let the person go argue with someone else.

3. Talk to their boss. Recognizing that your relationship is a peer-to-peer one, leverage the management structure by speaking to their boss and encouraging them to have a coaching conversation, especially if this individual’s stance or decision will be damaging to the company. (People are much more likely to take criticism seriously and consider alternative viewpoints when prompted by their boss, rather than a peer.)

4. Let them fail. When people fail, they are more likely to see that their original position was not correct. You can make an attempt to help people see that their approach/solution was not the right one, but this direct approach can often add fuel to the fire. Instead, you might gingerly ask your coworker if, in retrospect, he or she would have handled things differently. (This is a sage and somewhat sneaky way of letting people discover the better perspective on their own.)


The need to always be right is a factor of having low emotional intelligence (EI). It can be difficult to work with colleagues who have low EI, and you will most certainly have to put your own EI to even greater use in these situations. Although it’s more work, I highly recommend trying your hardest to avoid conflicts with people who always have to be right. Your energy will most certainly be put to better use elsewhere.



Kevin Sheridan is an internationally-recognized Keynote Speaker, a New York Times Best Selling Author, and one of the most sought-after voices in the world on the topic of Employee Engagement. For five years running, he has been honored on Inc. Magazine’s top 100 Leadership Speakers in the world, as well as Inc.’s top 100 experts on Employee Engagement. He was also honored to be named to The Employee Engagement Award’s Top 101 Global Influencers on Employee Engagement of 2017.

Having spent thirty years as a high-level Human Capital Management consultant, Kevin has helped some of the world’s largest corporations rebuild a culture that fosters productive engagement, earning him several distinctive awards and honors. Kevin’s premier creation, PEER®, has been consistently recognized as a long-overdue, industry-changing innovation in the field of Employee Engagement. His first book, Building a Magnetic Culture, made six of the best seller lists including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. He is also the author of The Virtual Manager, which explores how to most effectively manage remote workers.

Kevin received a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School in 1988, concentrating his degree in Strategy, Human Resources Management, and Organizational Behavior. He is also a serial entrepreneur, having founded and sold three different companies.

Email: kevin@kevinsheridanllc.com