How Right Do You Need to Be?

**A Repost from 2013. Seems like timely advice in an election year…

After a recent disagreement/misunderstanding with the hubs, I began to ponder the nature of conflict in all relationships. Of course, as with most disputes, I can’t recall the exact details or origin of this particular “discussion” the hubs and I were having. But it may have went something like this:

Me: “Did you check the website? All the information is on the website.”

Hubs: “I clicked the link. But there was no information.”

Me: “That’s impossible. I clicked the link yesterday. It was all there.”

Hubs: “I’m telling you, I clicked the link and there was no information.”

Me: “You must be doing it wrong.”

Hubs: “Of course you think I’m doing it wrong because you think I’m stupid.”

Me~clicking the link, seeing said information, carrying the laptop over to where he’s eating a bowl of cereal to show him it’s there and giving him a look that says, “If you’re not stupid, then why is everything right here where I said it would be?”

So here is the problem with the above interaction and possibly all conflicts in relationships, politics, religion, etc. Two or more people have two or more completely different experiences and believe that all other people have had or will have the exact same experiences. Those differing people insist that their experiences, reactions to those experiences and outcomes from those experiences should be the same for everybody else. If there is any pushback, we will go to almost any lengths to prove our version of reality is right. (Or worse, we’ll shrug off the dissenter as stupid or unimportant.)

So here’s the thing. I never intended to make the hubs feel as if I believed he is stupid. I only wanted to prove I was right. I didn’t want to consider that he could possibly have had a different experience than me. Because of course, in this case, computers are completely reliable devices upon which we should be able to bash our rightness over the heads of any dissenters, right?

What completely reliable “evidence” might you be using to bash your rightness over someone else’s head? This is a small example. But zoom out to big picture disagreements, and how many of them are mostly about who wins or who gets to be right?

So I encourage you to consider this New Year’s resolution. Before launching into any conflict, large or small, ask yourself, “How right do I need to be?” Is my rightness worth damaging the feelings of another person? Is my piled on rightness over time worth damaging entire relationships? Is our collective rightness worth boxing out the opinions of other people or other religious groups, political groups, social groups or family members? Maybe so. Or maybe not. And maybe, just maybe, we are not as right as we think we are.

Happy New Year!

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