I remember reading a story about how a host at a dinner party attributed a quote to the wrong person. A guest spoke up and said, "I believe that so and so, said that." The host replied, “I’m sure it was this other person.” What would you do? Would you continue to argue because you know you're right and he’s wrong, or would you drop it?
What is the cost of always proving you're right? In the scheme of things does it really make a difference? And what does it say about you when you keep arguing? Here are six points to consider before arguing or correcting someone.
- Why is this so important to me? You may find this difficult, but take some time to think about it. Often when we argue we get into an "I'm right, you're wrong" situation. Unless it's something crucial, is it really worth the effort and the hard feelings that will ensue? After giving it some thought you may realize that it isn't really that important.
- What am I trying to prove? Sometimes when we're critical or argue, we want to feel significant or superior. Do some soul searching here and make sure you understand your intentions!
- Will this hurt or demean the person I'm arguing with? Often we don't even realize we're hurting someone. I went to school with a girl who pronounced the word "idea" with an "r" on the end. The other kids were constantly correcting her, but the thing is, she thought she was pronouncing it correctly and couldn't hear the "r." What was the point of correcting her, other then to belittle her and make the other kids feel superior? Is that your intention?
- Will someone else be hurt, physically or emotionally? Is it a life or death situation? Will the other person’s point of view cause harm or take away someone’s rights? When it comes to protecting others, it’s crucial that you speak up! If you know that someone’s actions or words are harmful and you do nothing about it, you're as culpable as they are! Think about bullying, racism, slavery, concentration camps, women’s rights, and what was done to Native Americans, just to name a few. It doesn't even have to be on such a grand scale, it's also applicable to situations in our family, schools and work place. If more people speak out against and acknowledge the wrongs that were and are being committed, maybe we would have more compassion and peace in the world! The long-term affect of our actions or inactions are immeasurable. This is definitely a time to make your voice heard!
- Never compromise your values, integrity or reputation! There are many times we need to compromise, but never, ever compromise these three things! They represent who you are and what you stand for. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, it may seem easier to give in, but at the end of the day you have to live with yourself! If compromising your values, integrity or reputation makes you not like who you are, then STOP and hold your ground!
- Stand up for yourself! You are a worthwhile, competent, intelligent person, don’t allow anyone to push you around or tell you, you're not! There is no appropriate time to be abused physically, verbally or mentally! And yes, being bullied or ridiculed is abuse! If you don’t stand up for yourself, you won’t like yourself, you’re compromising your values, integrity and reputation, and you are harming someone – YOU! If you are in a situation where standing up for yourself may put you in danger, then you need to get help and remove yourself from the situation. If you can't go to family and friends, there are organizations that can help. You can also go to your doctor, the hospital, church or synagogue, but please don't put up with abuse of any kind!
What did the guest in our story do? He decided to be kind and not say anything further. He could have argued the point, but at what cost, and for what purpose? The only thing arguing would have accomplished is to humiliate his host, create a scene and most likely have cost him a friendship. Is that worth it? He knew he was right, and just because he didn’t argue further or try to prove it, doesn’t change what's true!
Let's face it, it all comes down to choosing our battles wisely, and treating people with respect. We've all picked an argument, been hurtful or said things that we regret. If we take the time to examine our motives before we criticize, correct, or try to prove we're right, maybe we can minimize those occasions. So, review your answers, and then decide if it might not be a better decision to be kind, rather than right!