“Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?”
I have been hearing this expression most of my life. Honestly, I feel like this expression should be engraved on my tombstone.
Anyone who knows me IRL knows that I love being right. I love it so much that I usually don’t know when to stop talking and to just let something go. Sometimes I get so worked up about something that I’m only satisfied if the other person admits that I’m right – which, let’s be honest, almost never happens (99.999% of the time never happens).
For the past few years, I’ve been trying a new tactic in my personal, work, and online relationships. It’s an easy trick and it saves me a lot of frustration.
Do you want to give it a try?
It’s easy, I promise.
Here it is:
Don’t say the last word.
That’s it! Super easy. Just stop talking (or typing).
If I’ve gone back and forth with someone more than once about something, then that’s a sign we’re heading down a path where both of us have to be right and we are getting ready to go head-to-head about it. “It” can be about anything: the meaning of a statistic at work, the right way to water a plant in the backyard garden, or how to upload an image to Facebook (these may or may not be actual examples from my real life).
So even if I have something on the tip of my tongue (or fingers) to “prove that I’m right”, I pause for a few seconds to think:
- Is there a likely chance I’ll change this person’s opinion since they seem to feel strongly about it?
- What do I gain by proving “I’m right”?
- What do I risk losing by arguing with this person?
By taking a few seconds to pause, I can (usually) let little arguments go.
And guess what? It’s not that tough to let the other person “be right.” Honestly, I feel good knowing that I’m more concerned with preserving the relationship than I am about being right. And maybe, just maybe, I was a little bit wrong.
This is not an excuse to be passive-aggressive. If you are planning to ignore what the other person is telling you as soon as they are out of the room, then you need to find a way to tactfully make your case. But in the situations where there is more than one right way to do something (such as watering the garden), then it’s okay to stop talking before an argument begins.
This is also not an excuse to be a doormat. Sometimes I have strong opinions about a topic and I’ll voice my opinion, but I have to accept that other people may not share my opinion and I have to live with that. Sometimes I know that I’m in the position to make the final decision, which makes it easier to gracefully end the back and forth. I say my piece, listen to the other person’s points, and then we move on. I don’t counter their points.
And that’s it. So many arguments avoided and relationships saved.
Do you have any similar tricks or experiences? I’d love to hear about them!