As the famous expression goes, ‘To err is human, to forgive is divine’. But the need to be right all the time, can alienate the people in your life.
Continuing with the theme of this month, ‘What to Say and Do When You Don’t Know What To say and do’, let’s talk about that obsessive need to be right all the time.
You’re having an intense argument with someone who is close to you. It could be a friend, a parent, a colleague, (or the person you argue with the most) or a significant other. As intense arguments go, emotions are high, tension is at its breaking point and neither party is backing down. You’re being blamed for something, you’re starting to feel guilty because you know what you did was wrong and somehow you need to justify it because it’s absolutely important to you that you win the argument.
So, you put the blame back on the other person by justifying your actions as result of something the other person did in the first place. Hence, rendering the entire blame on the person (including your actions) which causes the other person to feel responsible and guilty for the ‘fight’ in the first place. Which allows you to win and gain control over the other person.
But deep down you don’t feel good about it. You instantly regret it but there’s no taking it back now and you only wish you hadn’t let it get it this far.
The other person on the hand feels embarrassed, stupid, wrong and he/she wants to get away from you as far as he/she can.
If this sounds familiar, then let me tell you, you’re not alone. In fact, this is one of the top five common situations that I help people deal with when it comes to improving their communication skills.
And in my experience, once people understand why they feel the need to be right they actually are able to communicate better, without patronizing others.
The 4 Reasons Why!
1.The Parent Complex: Anyone who is a parent will tell you that it’s not easy being. You’re responsible for your child 24/7. And above all the child needs to trust the parent, which is the only way the parent can discipline or have difficult conversations with him/her. There is a responsibility for control, and a need to be right all the time for those same reasons.
Now, as adults, we are not always going to go to our parents. Instead, we’re going to have other people in our lives that we share this dynamic with. There are people we feel responsible for, and there are people who feel responsible for us. It could be your husband, your wife, your best friend, your boyfriend, girlfriend etc.
Whoever it is or whatever dynamic you share with that person, the need to be right, comes from a place of love and affection. As cliched as it may sound, there is a reason why you go to them in your time of need. And there is a reason why certain other people come to you in their time of need. If you’re the ‘parent’, along with the need to be right, it’s also important to make the other person (the child) feel safe enough to open up and share (by not being not judgemental, emotional or confrontational).
2.The Authoritative Complex: One could argue that this is similar to the parent complex, except the need to be right, comes from a position of power. An example would be your boss or supervisor at work, whose job is to manage you and your colleagues.
The aspect of control is part of his/her job, and being right all the time makes it easier for him/her to be that figure of authority that has control over his/her subordinates.
However, the objective of a person like that should be to bring people together to work towards a common goal, for the betterment of the company and in turn the betterment of the entire team. If you’re someone who has the authority complex, don’t use it keep people under your thumb (which is a guaranteed way to alienate them). Use it to achieve goals!
3.The Superiority Complex: It is that feeling of being better than others. However, there is a basis for this complex. One person simply doesn’t arrive at the idea of being better than others without some form evidence.
That evidence being a skill or knowledge that makes them stand out in a specific field – cinema, business, science, medicine, mathematics, finance, politics, marketing, etc. They have already demonstrated their expertise, proved themselves to the public, they have fans and followers and they wield a considerable amount of influence. Their need for being right is fueled by the thought of one goal, of being the best at what they do. For that reason, it comes from a place of confidence. They are always ready to take on a challenge for the same reason. That challenge is either going to prove to them that they are the best or teach them what area to improve. For them, everything is a fight.
The best example for this is the legendary boxer, and the first person to win the world heavyweight boxing championship three times, the late Mr. Muhammad Ali. He used it as a strategy to intimidate his opponents, allowing him to win over their mind (and essentially the fight) before the start of the match. Now some people can look at a person displaying traits of superiority and call it ‘arrogance’ and ‘egotism, which are enough to turn some people off. However, I’d ask you to keep it fun and entertaining like Mr. Muhammed Ali and be passionate about your skill or trade, which are the reasons that made him one of the admired and likable athlete in the world.
4.The Inferiority Complex: I’m sure most of you know where this comes from. If not, it’s jealousy. Someone has something you don’t have. But here’s the thing that turns that into jealousy – you believe that you can’t ever have it! So that other person makes you feel inferior to him/her.
The inferior complex makes you feel insecure around people who you think are better than you. For that reason, you don’t like them. You’ll never want to compliment them (at least not genuinely). So you look for flaws, you wait for mistakes and when they do (to err is human, after all), you’re going to use it to patronize them, thereby justifying yourself as being right all along.
Jealousy is an emotion that we’ve all felt and will continue to feel at different points in our lives. I’m not above it! I know I’ve felt it at times. But I would also tell you that nothing – nothing – is unattainable in life if you’re willing to work for it. So the thing that you want, the thing that makes you jealous or makes you feel inferior to someone, it’s attainable. So go after it!
As human beings, we all go through these feelings depending on the various situations we are part of. There are people we feel responsible for, there are people we have authority over, there are skills that we value and there are people who make us feel insignificant. The point is to communicate relevance so people still feel valued by you, even though you need to be right all the time!
Thank you for reading. If you find this article to be of value, then go ahead and ‘share’ it within your network. If you like to personally get in touch with me then email me at [email protected] To keep up with my posts and stay connected, follow me at
Originally published at Linkedin