You need to be wrong.
We all have the unquenchable need to be right. Some of us need to be right more often and on more issues than others but the truth is we all like being right. In particular, when an issue is important to us it’s very hard for us to say, “You’re entitled to your opinion.” Instead we try to prove we’re right. We make logical arguments, we point out others that agree with us, we even raise our voices, all in an effort to be “right.” The funny thing about it all, is that we’re often fighting to be right on issues that are all gray. Assuming there is a right and wrong answer requires us to see issues as black and white, as simpler than they truly are. But there is an even bigger problem.
Being right alienates people.
If I am talking to you about how to grow tomatoes and I insist that my technique is the right one, your way must be wrong. Perhaps both my technique and yours have merit. Or perhaps my technique is actually the best way. It doesn’t really matter… in an effort to be right, I am pushing you away. If I keep putting down your ideas, even if they are in fact bad ones, all I’ve done is teach you to keep away from me. If I keep insisting that I’m right, I can almost guarantee that will bother you on some level.
What’s the alternative?
So if being right alienates people and teaches them to keep their distance, what’s the alternative? It’s simple. Be wrong sometimes. Willingly choose to NOT win every argument. But why would you want to be wrong? Being wrong will make you feel uncomfortable, right? Of course it will. You’ve lived your entire life being taught to succeed, stand up for the things you believe. But every time we’re right there is a missed lesson.
Being wrong helps us grow, brings others closer to us, and ultimately teaches us the truth. Most people do anything to avoid being wrong, blamed, or at fault. In that effort you’ll miss so many opportunities. When you let go and accept being wrong, suddenly your eyes open and you see the truth, the reality of a situation. You gain the advantage, friends and perspective. Once you accept you’re wrong there’s no longer any reason to keep your guard up. You’re no longer arbitrarily fighting. You sacrifice the need to be right in favour of the desire to learn new lessons, connect with others, and see reality as it truly is.
Communicating, The Right Way
We think of effective communication as being able to convince anyone of anything that serves our needs. Sometimes the “right” thing to do is to stop aiming to win the argument. Every time you try to win, you harden the position of the person you’re talking to. Letting someone else be right, gives them the opportunity to stop fighting, let their guard down, and… see the truth for themselves.