I don’t think I’m too far out of the ordinary when I say that I want to be right. I’m competitive, analytical, and even – I know this is hard to believe – argumentative. I had my viewpoint, and I would be determined to prove its worth to you, until either you openly accepted it or I was satisfied that I had made my case so robustly that your response was rendered moot anyway.
A funny thing happened, though, in my undefeated streak of being right. I wasn’t very happy. As it turns out, there’s no omniscient scoreboard somewhere that is keeping track of how often you’re “right” and how often you are “wrong,” awarding you some kind of karma or Happiness Points for you to spend later.
Nope, you take these small victories and, well, nothing happens after that. Congratulations! You’ve won an all-expense paid trip to Alienating a Loved One!
There are, of course, times where your opinion is valuable and helpful to someone; times when you have an opportunity to actually inform someone of a fact or your previous experience, which can help them avoid inconvenience, or disaster. For instance, if I was about to walk through a closed door, and my friend knew that on the other side of the door awaited a 349-foot cliff that descended into a pit of dragons, fire, and Miley Cyrus, then yes – I would want said friend to give me a friendly “hey dude, you might not want to do that.”
The vast majority of the time, though, the behavior of those around us boils down to :
- People are flawed.
- People have their reasons.
It really is that simple. You can spend minutes upon hours upon days upon years pointing out their flaws and debating their reasons, but the only end it will serve is to create or widen a chasm between you. Whatever fleeting satisfaction you had from being “right” will be eventually and overwhelmingly replaced with a sense of isolation and loss.
Sure, gossip and small talk is fun and has its own merit among friends; it’s only natural to have opinions and want to share them, and sometimes an indirect route is the best way to get your thoughts to someone without confrontation.
What I’ve learned, at the expense of years of peace and happiness, is that when you’re talking to someone, especially someone you care about, spend a lot more energy trying to understand than trying to influence. A shared understanding and support makes both of you happy – a debate over who’s right only serves one of you in the moment, and neither of you in the long run.
Trust me, I’m totally right on this.