Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What’s Wrong With Being Right?

For many people, being right is a favorite pastime. Socially, it is an excellent practice to make ourselves look good or avoid looking bad. Except, it comes with a price. And no one really questions the cost of being right.

One of the reasons we never consider the cost is because many of us believe that everyone should
think like us. In fact, you will hear many people state, ‘you should say X’ or ‘you should think this way’. Those people are amazed when others think differently than themselves. In some cases, they will condemn others who think differently than they do.

In addition, we believe our experiences of certain situations are the only way life can be seen. We never consider that we surround ourselves with people who validate our thought processes. Those whose thoughts strongly contrast ours are usually avoided. Or we cast doubt on their sanity. For example, I recently had dinner with a friend. She is well educated and has her own practice as a doctor. When I mentioned that I have never had a drink of alcohol when I was alone, she thought I was odd. I told her that I only drink in the privacy of my home with my significant other. She asked how could you not come home sometimes and just sit and have a beer? She even asked what kind of man are you? I laughed because I know she was not being malicious.

While she and I never got into a debate about the subject, there are many instances where people can turn simple conversations into heated arguments. There is another woman I know who has an extraordinary memory. She remembers every detail of conversations. I, on the other hand, remember some details. I focus more on general principles. As you can imagine, if I say something that she believes is important and I forget, she gets extremely upset. From there, I am told what I should remember and how I should think.

For both those women, their way of doing things makes them look good in their social circles. However, dogmatic adherence to specific behaviors can alienate very good people. How many people have fallen out of love and later experienced a tumultuous divorce because their way of thinking was supposedly better than their spouse’s? The same holds true for friends, colleagues and family members.

Being right may help you look good or avoid looking bad. At the same time, it can cost you love, a job, friendship or clients. Instead of holding your view as the right one, stop and listen to the other person. While it is easy to hear the words they are saying, it is very possible you have no idea why they are saying what they are saying. Understanding a persons intention can be more valuable than understanding what they say. Therefore, it is imperative that each of us learns to ask questions. Additionally, it is inappropriate to expect others to fully comprehend the message behind your words. It is the burden of both the listener and the speaker to ensure assumptions are cleared up.

Furthermore, it is important to consider what we want from our relationships. If it is success in business, make sure your contribution reflects acts and thoughts that will facilitate a successful business. If it is love, make sure your acts and thoughts reflect a loving and affectionate relationship. When your thoughts and acts are contrary to what you want, that is the time to stop and listen to yourself. That is a great time to question your motive. Ask yourself: do I want to be right? Or do I want the fulfillment of a successful relationship.  

Stepping back can be an excellent way to examine our motives and expand our minds by learning a different viewpoint from others. What will you learn today?

What do you think? I’m open to ideas. Or if you want to write me about a specific topic, connect through my blog www.turnaroundip.blogspot.com.

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