Us human beings have this funky feature. We’re right all the time. Or at least we think we’re right. Because if I find out that I was wrong, eventually I’ll change my viewpoint or opinion so that I can continue being right.
This feature is very easy to spot. Now that you’re sitting there reading this text, pause for a moment and scan your inner dialogue. Is there any facts, opinions or views that are wrong? Sure there are areas you don’t yet know anything about. There are subjects that you haven’t formed an opinion of. And there are things you’re not quite sure about. But is there anything you know for certain that is wrong?
How are you right?
When we start a discussion, argument or a quarrel with another human being, we’re quite sure they’re wrong. Sometimes we know for a fact that they’re wrong and we have very good arguments and a dozen research articles to back us up. So we start to hammer the opposite side to change their opinion with our arguments and proof.
What we tend to forget though is the fact, that in the beginning of the conversation they’re also right. With the information they have and the arguments they’ve formed, they have come to the same conclusion as we have: I am right. And more often than not they’re not holding on to their opinion out of sheer stupidity or malice. We can try to run them over with arguments but there’s also a better and more efficient way.
Try to find out, how they’re right. What is the foundation on which the righteous opinion has been built. Ask open-ended questions and listen carefully to understand, what makes them think they’ve got it right.
It’s easier to be wrong if you’ve been heard
We don’t want to be wrong, it is uncomfortable. We’ve been taught to be right. In school we needed to get it right to get good grades. And not much has changed since. We have not practiced being wrong and therefore it does not come naturally to us.
But if we feel like we’ve been heard, if we don’t get run over with another opinion, it is much easier to admit that maybe, and just maybe, we’re wrong this time. It is very important to feel, that I am not completely wrong with my point of view. I just happened to gather some wrong data and made wrong conclusions based on that. These things happen.
So the next time someone is wrong, try first to find out, how they’re right.
TL;DR: How can everybody be right all the time?
- People tend to think we’re always right. If we find out we were wrong, eventually we’ll change our opinion or viewpoint.
- When we argue with someone who is clearly wrong, we forget that they’re also right.
- It’s a good idea to try to find out, what are the facts and what is the background that makes them think so.
- It is easier to admit being wrong if we feel we were heard and understood.