Being SO Right Can Be SO Wrong
Ever been in that conversation when the other person was so passionate about their stance that they’d practically run you over if you tried to add something or disagree?
Or maybe you’ve had an interaction in which someone completely stonewalled you and would not listen to any of your thoughts, facts, ideas or opinions? Yes?
Or maybe (and quite possibly) both?
And maybe you’ve been the person in question?
People tend to get rigid about their beliefs, have you noticed? And oftentimes the more they perceive they’re being attacked, or disagreed with, the more they dig their heels in and fight back with higher levels of defensiveness (and maybe offensiveness, too).
Because we love “being right.”
In fact, we love being right so much we can completely ruin relationships, lose prospective clients or customers, and end up ostracizing ourselves.
All over “being right.”
What’s behind this unbending and unrelenting force of rigid rightness?
One word: Ego.
Yes, we and our ever-so “I want to be BIG” ego.
Ego drives us to proclaim our rightness about an almost infinite number of subjects and topics, and/or, tries to make others wrong for their beliefs, experience or even valid evidence.
The ego apparently tries to protect us from possibly being seen as inadequate, incompetent or impotent. It overreacts to protect our self-esteem and creates a false sense of esteem so we feel superior to others, better than others and “right” about nearly everything.
Being SO right can be SO wrong.
So what’s the solution? Never proclaim being right? Always agree with others? Don’t ever express your passion?
No, times three.
One of the easiest and most fundamental ways of dealing with this dynamic more effectively is to start by being more aware of yourself and others (but mostly yourself).
Here are some questions to consider in expanding your awareness:
- Can you accept that other people might have other opinions, beliefs or experiences different from yours?
- Do you HAVE TO get agreement from others?
- Is it more important to be right than it is to have a relationship with others?
You’re likely to maintain good relationships with people who share your thoughts, opinions and beliefs, but that circle could very likely be limiting, and eventually there’ll be something with someone that arises that you’ll be in disagreement with.
If you want to be more aware, you can begin by slowing down this process.
Listening, that ever so powerful force that’s ever so underutilized, can be your primary tool.
Listening, or what we in the psychotherapy-world like to call “active listening”, includes a couple of things that people tend to overlook or forget about.
First, there’s another person involved who may likely have thoughts, feelings and ideas about what you’re talking about.
Second, if you’re really invested in keeping the relationship, you’ll want to know their thoughts, feelings and ideas.
AND next, you’ll want to be able to understand why they feel like they do, be able to validate their perspectives and experiences, and empathize with where they stand.
It’s all very simple and very difficult.
Understand, validate and empathize. It’s all summarized in three words.
What could be so difficult about that?
First, most of us (I actually think ALL of us, but I’ll leave some room for error, and besides, I don’t want to sound like I’m trying to be “right” about all this) have never been taught these active listening skills. The exception might be in really good sales or therapist training.
Second, we haven’t had great role-models. Many of us were brought up in less than optimal households and even if we come from healthy families there still, most likely, was not a real high level of active listening.
And third, the media completely destroys healthy relationship skill sets. (Homer Simpson, Charlie Sheen, Big Bang Theory, Walking Dead or WWE Wrestling?? Need I write more?!!)
The perfect storm…no wonder we SO easily fall prey to being SO right and, at the same time, discounting and making others SO wrong.
But if you are not willing to take ownership of your own “rightness” drive, then nothing changes.
Yes, and if nothing changes then nothing changes.
But have you noticed how many people repeat the same basic behavior or attitude over and over and then get upset because other people continually respond that same way and don’t change?
Yes, I know we have only two eyes and they both look outward, but if we don’t take time to look at ourselves we’ll not only strengthen our “being right” stance, we’ll also strengthen our “making others wrong” stance, AND then we’ll make them wrong about being SO wrong.
Yes, you have great ideas, opinions and even facts. And yes, it’s great to feel proud about where you stand and what you believe. But if you try to cram it down others’ throats, you’ll only end up pushing people away.
Now, if you want to push people away, and you want to stay angry, and you want to feel victimized then, by all means, continue.
But I doubt that’s what you want.
Just slow down and practice one of those simple rules we all learned in kindergarten: Take turns.
AND beware of your ego.
It’s almost as if the ego lurks around in the shadows and then springs into action whenever we feel the least bit misunderstood or have even small disagreements with others.
Then we tighten our stance, and our perspective becomes limited, and we go into battle all because we want to be heard and understood and appreciated.
Yes, and that’s what everyone else wants too.
One of the primary factors of relational demise comes from this “I’m right, you’re wrong” dynamic.
I’ve seen it for years in my counseling practice. It’s one of the most common culprits of misunderstanding, suppressed emotions and resentment, all of which, when collected over time, results in walls and canyons between two people.
The sad part is that most people are not aware of what’s happening as it’s happening.
So….it all starts with awareness. Can you, and will you, begin to be aware of your tendency to overindulge in “rightness”?
And will you then slow down and invite others to share where they are, and what their thoughts, feeling and ideas are?
I hope the answer was yes, times two.
If you need any assistance, I’m here to help.
A little counseling now is a whole lot cheaper than a divorce later.
So, how about being nice rather than being right?
Start here: Marry YourSelf First!