Insights from the Pavement: Our Right to Be Wrong


All around the world we will run into people who, for one reason or another, feel that they can never be wrong. The hotel owner who argues with customers over the bill, the flight attendant who takes the “control” factor of her job too seriously, or the cook who just swears that your steak was medium rare as you requested – they are all just like us. They, too, can overreact and fail to accept their place in impropriety.

Our ability to learn new things and move forward in this life is largely dependent on whether or not our pride will allow us to do so.

We all know someone who can’t be wrong. And if these people start to see themselves being seen as wrong in a conversation, they’ll change the subject, or allude to different circumstances, or reroute the conversation so that it brings them to a place where they can still be right. Some may even become outraged at even the slightest hint of their authority being challenged.

One sure way to find out if we are among these types of people is to think back to the last time that we argued for our own side of a conflict. Did we huff and puff in defense, stating how strongly we felt about our side? Or were we confidently and responsibly proffer our stance, tendering evidence that proved our argument? Was it a battle of wills or a mêlée of truths?

And how did we feel about the conflict once it ended? Did the victory seem slightly empty and overdrawn? Did the defeat hurt our pride so much that we changed how we thought of the other person? Or did the stalemate end in parting ways?

In all of these cases, if we had the power to understand that we always have the right to be wrong, and that it’s completely okay to do so from time to time, we will never overreact in defense. We’ll never feel shame for defeat. And we won’t have any need to yearn for the friendship to be rekindled. We will simply own our place in a conflict and move on with our lives.

In the end, which is more important; to destroy our opponents or let the conflict go? To fight every single battle? Or to weigh the consequences of the fracas such that we can support our ideas while still understanding those of others?

The answer to these questions will offer us guidance as to how much control we offer over to our pride. And, not surprisingly, pride is often at the helm of many of our conflicts.

Large or small, conflicts and clashes can involve a couple of school children or a league of nations. But no matter what the scale, who spoke first or who is involved, none of us are limited to always being right.

And the closer we hold onto that ideology, the more likely we are to grow individually, embrace differing views, and resolve our issues amicably.

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