It feels good, doesn’t it? When someone says to you, “You were right.” We like to have our expertise, our opinion, and our perspective validated. Sometimes we feel almost prescient – “I just knew he was going to be a creep!” Or “I thought something funny was going on at work; now I know the business is in trouble.”
We like being right because for the time we are, we are in the superior position. We are all-knowing, or smarter than someone else. We “see” things that others miss. It’s especially fun when we are right and we have told someone. It isn’t as much fun to say, “I knew it, but I hadn’t said anything yet….”
The problem with being right is that, by definition, it makes someone else wrong. It can hurt, especially in a relationship setting. If the goal is to collaborate, or to be “on the same page” or to come together somehow, having one person pitted against the other in the quest to be right is detrimental to the relationship. This is true in personal relationships, in business, and in families.
How does it feel when someone says to you, “I just KNEW you were going to say that!” Or they criticize your choices and when you fail, or suffer somehow, they can’t wait to tell you how they told you so beforehand? Think about these scenarios for a minute. Who enjoys the other person doing this to them? None of us like it, so why do we do it to others?
Being right can give a person a sense of purpose: They are useful. People need them to tell them what’s what. Wanting to be the one who is right sometimes offers a focus, or a place to put one’s attention. It makes a person feel valuable somehow.
It’s important in relationships to watch your need to be right; to PROVE your point, and to put the other person down by validating that you’re smart, and they are not. Some people enjoy finding the mistake that another person makes. They can pull air out of one’s balloon quickly. We see this in business a lot. One person will spend a great deal of time on a project and put their heart and soul into it. They show it to their boss, or colleague, and the other person responds by pointing out what’s wrong, or what was missed.
It’s important to be right. And to be accurate and correct. But it’s also important to be in relationship with others. Most people grow up fearful of making a mistake, or being in the wrong. We don’t need other people, who purport to care about us, telling us what a fool we’ve been!
This week, drop the need to be right in every exchange. Allow yourself some vulnerability and some openness to others’ weaknesses. Approach your relationships as if you are journeying together and exploring side-by-side. You will be right sometimes, and you will be wrong sometimes. Instead of worrying about which, and when – focus on being in relationship without being right, or wrong.