Everyone wants to be a winner! Everyone likes to be right…right? Unfortunately, these two things aren’t the same thing and don’t always go together. Do you ever find yourself in an argument with your partner or friend and you are pushing to make sure they see your point and understand why you are right and they are wrong? Tempers and decibels start to rise and you are left confused on how you ended up sleeping on the couch.
Here is the challenge: can you win and not be right? Yes! But, it requires you to change your definition of what it means to win. Being right means that you are being accurate. It is about finding a fact or truth that isn’t disputable. If the issue is subjective, it is impossible to accurately be right if others are allowed to have their opinion. Issues that are subjective are irrefutable. There has to be space for everyone’s unique thoughts and opinions.
In many situations, accuracy isn’t important. Being right can leave you isolated. If you define winning as getting the outcome you want at end rather than in the moment, being right is secondary. For example, if you want to have a relationship with harmony, you don’t have to be right on every topic. Does it really matter if the newly painted bathroom wall color is aqua or teal? What do you gain by correcting your spouse in front of others?
This doesn’t mean that you have to or should just roll over in every discussion. It is about being able to determine which issues are worth being assertive (not aggressive) because your opinion or thought can influence the outcome of a decision. Learning how to present your thoughts to your partner so that you leave enough room for others to have a difference of opinion, experience or plan helps you win. Being able to look beyond the discussion at hand to what the resolution could look like will guide how to move forward.
Let’s look at a simplified example:
Partner A: “I want to hang out with my friends Friday night.”
Partner B: “I haven’t seen you all week! I thought we were having date night Friday night! (thinking – Don’t you care about our relationship?)”
Partner A: “I work hard all week, I get to see you every day! I just want to hang with my friends for a few hours. I don’t see why you see that is such a problem (thinking – Stop controlling me!)”
Partner B: walks off sulking.
In reality, there are two different conversations going on in this example. Partner A wants to reconnect with friends and simply wants Partner B to say “I understand hanging with your friends is important and you are feeling disconnected from them after working overtime this week.” Partner B just wants Partner A to say “I really value our relationship and want to spend time with you.” Can these two seemingly counter desires co-exist? Yes!
Let’s go through the example again:
Partner A: “My friends asked me to hang out Friday night. I really want to see them. Can we talk about how to make that happen?”
Partner B: “I was really hoping and expecting that we would spend Friday night together. We really haven’t had any quality time this week.”
Partner A: “I want that too. Can we talk about how to do both?”
Obviously, it usually isn’t this simple and easy but being able to look how to get to winning over being right and justified is what works to bring relationships together. Learning to talk with your partner to get to a mutual win takes new skill and knowledge. When learning new skills, it often feels weird, uncomfortable and embarrassing. But like all new skills, if you stick with it, practice brings new ability.
If you would like to learn more about this topic, contact Elliott Kronenfeld at 617-834-4235 or email him at Elliott@insightbrookline.com.