RETROSPECTIVE BY BAL THANEDAR
Very often I ask myself a question. Do I want to be right, or do I want to be happy? Many a times these two are mutually exclusive. Being right is defending my position. I have noticed that it takes an enormous amount of energy and alienates (makes unfriendly) me from some people in my life. If I analyze the situation, needing me to be right means needing someone else to be wrong. This encourages others to become defensive. and put pressure on me to keep defending. I do spend a great deal of time and energy here, attempting to prove that I am right -and/or others are wrong.
Consciously or unconsciously I used to believe that it is somehow my job to show others how their positions, statements and points of view are incorrect and that in doing so, the person I am correcting is going to somehow appreciate it, or at least learn something. I discovered that is WRONG!
Let me state my own experience. Many a times I have been corrected. However, to the person who was trying to correct me and who actually was right, I have never said, Thank you so much for showing me that I am wrong and you are right. Now I see it. Boy, you are great!
The plain truth is all of us hate to be corrected. We all want our positions to be respected and understood by others. Being listened to and heard is one of the greatest desires of the human heart, and those who learn to listen are the most liked and respected. Those who are in the habit of correcting others are often resented and avoided.
It is not that it is never appropriate to be right. There are times I genuinely need to be or want not to be budged on, for example, some derogatory comment on, for example, Ayurveda, the Indian medical science. Here it is important I speak my mind. When I did this, many noticed and some resented this also. However, I must stay on watch as it might just be my ego creeping in and ruining an otherwise peaceful encounter – a habit of needing to be or wanting to be right.
The need to be always right is a serious defect of the egoic mind. It makes one continually defensive, and more interested in how the argument affects ones standing in the other persons mind than in exploring the issue together. By not listening to, and thereby, respecting the other persons legitimate concerns and contributions to the subject, we lose incalculably the ability to learn from others and enable them to modify our views, or ourselves to truly engage with the other and modify their views. So then these antagonistic views only rigidify and become entrenched, further making true communication and a real dialog of minds impossible.
Needing to be right is a serious stumbling block to the interchange of ideas. It comes from the shallow ego always trying to put down someone, so its own estimation in the eyes of others can somehow be elevated. The fatal flaw in this defective thinking is not realizing that the learning process requires two minds, not one, to be fully functional. It is in the interaction and true free flowing of ideas, in an atmosphere of mutual respect and caring, that the best ideas and solutions come to the surface.
So the next time you feel you need to be right, catch yourself, for you will gain so much more and make a lifelong friend by just listening to the other person without interruption. By humbly listening and respecting the viewpoints of others, however different from our own, or however wrong we might initially think them, this enables us to engage in true dialog which can change ones own mind, or both minds, towards a deeper understanding of the situation, shorn of emotional power games and hurtful put-downs.
So next time you say, I dont agree. because you are wrong, catch yourself and think a lot harder as to where the other person is coming from, their age, background and circumstances. Think hard whether what they are saying makes sense in their own context.
Then having truly heard someone, you are in a much better position to find the real convincing arguments, which are not just offensive put-downs and self-righteous statements, to bring about a true change of heart in one, or both of you.