There is a need to always be right: “How is it that you don’t see the obvious!?”; “I can’t believe you see things the way you do!”; “How can you be like that?” These are some of the things we might think or say when a situation arises with someone else. We have a view of the world and if someone else does not see it the way we do, we take a position. We are a strange species because we like to deal in absolutes. I am correct…right?!?!
What we have here is a mental model of the world. This is where through our experiences, upbringing and our circle of associations, we have a view of the world. Everything in our world is deemed correct. Anything counter to it, is not correct. This is the same as our perception. Our perspective has developed over the years from all of our collective experiences and results. Through this, we are always 100% correct because without knowing it, that is what we show and what we know. If things or situations run counter to our perspective and mental model, we immediately go into defensive mode and react.
Let me provide an example of how this works. Years ago, I was going to work and like any other day, traffic was fairly busy but moving. As I was driving, an incident unfolded before me. There was a car in front of me and a car to his right veered into his lane and went in front of him. Nothing abrupt but enough that the person in front of me had to apply his brakes. ‘How dare the car to his right suddenly cut him off and take over a position in front of him!’ All of a sudden, I hear a loud horn and the car in front of me suddenly darted out from behind the car that moved into his lane. The car that was in front of me seemed very bothered by this because he went beside this passing car, and honked, gave the finger and quickly moved on and cut back in front of the car that veered into his lane. OK, so according to this driver’s actions, how dare someone cut him off and take away his space and lack common road courtesy. Obviously, the driver in front of me felt that the car who cut him off did not know how to drive.
Well, I could still see the aggressive driver who was immediately in front of and eventually he calmed down and carried along his way…until he suddenly accidentally veered lanes and into someone else’s lane (a totally different car). Now this person got honked at and with a sheepish wave, he said sorry.
The lesson here is simple. This driver’s first reaction was one where he felt wronged and not realizing it, in the exact same way, he wronged someone later on. His first reaction was aggressive and the second reaction was apologetic. The challenge though is that we are very powerful when it comes to get our point across and we only remember being wronged. We don’t want to remember when we are wrong. This is no different to a conversation we might have with others. We don’t take the time to consider the other position or mental model. The next time, instead of reacting, try to understand how they came to this conclusion and perhaps there might be merit in what they say.
The way it stands right now, according to one’s perspectives, they are 100% right and anyone counter to this perspective are 100% incorrect. Flip this around, the person 100% incorrect is 100% correct in their view and the counter now is 100% incorrect. How can we be 200% correct and 200% incorrect? We just need to understand each other more and better in order to find collaborative solutions. With our positions, we find ourselves being on either side of a wall and this does not help…we need to be in the same room. Go into any discussion with an open mind and try and understand perspectives.
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