“Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I remember a time in my life where I had to have the last word. I had to be right. More than likely, I thought I knew it all. It is like why some referred to me (hopefully in jest) as “Noah Know-It-All.”
The problem was not that I attempted to know everything. From my perspective, I was just vigorously defending my point. The problem was how I went about this. It was in my tone. I did not just talk down to people, but I got defensive in making my points, and made people feel incorrect for making theirs (if they were different than mine, of course). I felt as though every counter point was a criticism or someone telling me that I am wrong.
I am not proud of those moments when I have them, but I am proud that I am learning from those moments.
I have learned to become a better listener. Back in those moments, I think I used to do one of two things. I either did not hear what was being said because I was waiting to make my next (obviously correct) point or did not listen because I did not care about your point or did not want to hear that I was wrong. The more I started listening the more I realized that it was not always criticism (or the criticism was constructive) but people offering their perspectives that were informative and insightful. I started talking less and hearing more.
I have learned how to engage in meaningful conversation. Just because someone offers a differing opinion from you does not mean you are wrong. It could afford you the opportunity to acquire more knowledge about the particular topic or issue. It could allow you the chance to bolster your argument by learning from the opposing side. But, it definitely allows you the chance to engage in a powerful debate on issues. I listened to learn and to ask questions.
I have learned that it is less about winning or losing, right or wrong. We get so caught up in being right, in proving points, in stating our case. We love to think we know it all or have every answer. We think that being right will showcase our intelligence. In actuality, this could point more towards unintelligence on our part. By doing these things, we realize that people no longer want to talk with us or do not know how to approach us. Who could blame them really?
It is important to understand that a variety of opinions exist. People have all kinds of perspectives on the same topic. Your opinion is valuable, but it is not the whole story. It is not the only opinion that should matter. It is one piece to a large puzzle that has plenty of room for others. In fact, those pieces (opinions) all add up and link together to give us a complete view of the big picture.
I am not perfect at this yet. I still get defensive. I still like to think my opinion carries a lot of weight at times. I still want to be right. I am learning. Not all differing views make me wrong. Not all criticism is an attack. But, they can all make me stronger, smarter, and wiser.
So long as I avoid the temptation to let them make me feel otherwise…
Bring your best today!