Transcript of the video: “I’m Right, You’re Wrong“ Or Can We Both Be Right?
I am passionate about saving relationships and work, particularly with young families starting from pregnancy, and through the early years of having children. One of the things I noticed is people come in, and one of the issues is communication. What I also noticed is that there seems to be this pattern of “I’m right, you are wrong”, that starts to undermine the relationship.
I thought that we’d talk about that today and reframe it to be “I’m right, you are wrong, or actually, can we both be right?” And it’s looking at this in a different way of how we communicate together. What I notice is that there’s often a common pattern, and that pattern is that people come in and it might be something that’s really quite small that’s getting in the way.
“I’m Right” Person
What is underpinning this is the desire to always be right, and the other to be wrong? Then, it leads to an argument that seems to escalate, and what it does have is quite a disastrous effect on the intimacy and connection in the relationship. What it comes more as is a power-play between the two parties involved. When you put down one saying they are wrong and therefore you are right, there is a disconnect that immediately happens between the two of you. Let’s just have a little look at some of the things that can come up when we fall into the “I’m right and you are wrong” pattern.
The “I’m right” type of people are not accepting any influence from their partner but it has to be able to hear their point of view at all. There’s no compromise to be able to even hear their partner at all. There is no acknowledgment, there is no validation that they are even interested and there’s shutdown before they hear their point of view. Therefore the walls go up, and in turn what happens is there is no vulnerability from this particular person, so their needs don’t really get met.
“I’m Wrong” Person
Then we go to the other side, which is the “I’m wrong” person. This is the person that really feels not acknowledged, not understood, not validated. They often then start to feel alone, lonely and quite isolated in the relationship. If you have that perpetuated all the time, it really then starts to affect their confidence in themselves and having an opinion because, if it’s always shut down at the messages “I don’t matter” or “I’m not good enough”. Then that person can also end up feeling quite sad, often comes quite depressed and ultimately they are not happy in the relationship.
I want to demonstrate this in a different way. I have got this scenario from the really relating book by Margaret Newman and David Janssen, and they just explain it beautifully. What I want to explain here is you’ve got to imagine that there is a very large plastic ball in a paddock that’s way bigger than you are. Four people are standing at different sides of the ball, and we will call them A, B, C, and D. You have walkie-talkies and you can’t see the other people on the field because this ball is so enormous. The task is to be able to describe to the other person what they see. What happens is that A goes well and say “Well, it’s obvious. You know, it’s a really, really big ball. It’s a plastic ball and it’s all white.”.
So then we go over to C who says “Well, it is a very large, ball. But what I see is that it’s all blue.” The C person says that because one half of the ball is white and the other is blue, but the person can’t see the blue side because the ball is huge. Well then, we come to B person who thinks how unobservant the other two have actually been because he sees both sides of the ball the white and blue. The B person says ”Well, it’s a really large ball. And it, yes, it’s plastic, but it’s not white or blue. It’s white over here on my left and it’s blue over here on my right.” Then we go up here to D who sighs with exasperations (don’t forget, they can’t see each other) and says “Well, you’re all wrong. Surely it’s obvious this ball is made of plastic, but it’s blue over here and it’s white over here. And that’s blue on the left and white on the right.” What then happens is these people lock in on their positions, but each person is both right and wrong because each has some truth but not all.
We All See Things Differently
Each person, because of their brain functioning, because of their personality, because of their history, they look at things and receive things differently from each other. So, the lens of how they will possibly receive the information is going to be different from how their partner receives it. I want to use this as an example of how exactly people who get into this “I’m right, you’re wrong” fall straight into this trap of not being able to look and see the whole picture, and potentially how your partner may be able to see it through a different lens, as well. What we now need to be able to do is use communication skills to share your own individual awareness about what it is that you see, and allow your partner to be able to do the same.
The skill also in this is to be able to hold your own reactivity, because naturally you’re going to go “Well, that’s not what I see”. But the skill here is to be able to become curious, to be able to ask lots of questions about “Well, what is it that you see?”. Always respect that the other’s point of view is valid, and constantly coming back to that vision of remembering the ball that’s in this paddock. Everyone is going to see things from a different perspective.
Allow Vulnerability In to Be Able To Get to Know Your Partner
I think we need to be very mindful that this issue of the right and the wrong pattern breaks down relationships. Ultimately, at the end of the day, and to develop the intimacy and the connection that we all want, we need to let go of all of the weapons.
We need to allow vulnerability in, and we need to be able to get to know our partner, what it is that they see, how they see it, how they feel about it, and what they think about it. That will help you get to know your partner at a much deeper level. Some of the other negative outcomes of the “right-wrong pattern” which I really feel are important that it really does kill love and the affinity between the two of you. The “wrong” partner then often feels inadequate, disrespected, rejected and alone and the “right” partner, who is never really truly vulnerable. They also don’t get their needs met because they’re not allowing anyone in. So, ultimately both people will end up feeling lonely in the relationship.
When that sort of thing happens, I think you might find yourself wanting to relook, look at this. When you have that feeling coming up “I’m right here, I don’t need to hear what she/he has to say” just take a breath and remember the ball in the paddock and ask yourself, “Do I want my relationship more than actually holding my own ground here?”. If you take that stance, you’ve got more of a chance to be able to understand your partner’s side, which is really important. I think the other thing is, you don’t always have to agree with your partner’s side. It is not about agreeing with each other, it’s just walking with the others so you can understand them.
If that’s the case where you go to yourself “You know what, I’m not sure, you know?”. So, say you agree, say “Hey, yeah, I really agree with that. You know, I often feel that way myself or my thoughts about that are similar.”. You are talking like you agree, so that is when you agree with what they’re saying.
If you disagree, that’s okay as well. But it’s how you say it, so you might say something along the lines like “I understand what it is that you’re saying about X, Y, and Z, but I don’t necessarily see it the same way.” You can also say “I just don’t agree with it.”, and maybe then be able to give your explanation or say “I see you feel really strongly about this, but I just want to let you know I see it differently.” So again, you are saying and empathizing or being with them, but you’re not necessarily feeling “Well I’ve got to give up what I feel just to agree with them, to keep the peace.” because the idea about all this is to try and have authentic communication. Then you sometimes get to the place “Well I don’t know if I agree or I disagree.” and that’s okay as well.
You might say something along the lines of “Well that seems really important to you.” or “Thanks for sharing that I can see that this is a really important issue for you.” and you don’t even need to say a lot more than that.
Let’s Deal With “I’m Right, You’re Wrong” Pattern Together
There are some of the ways to be able to understand this, trying to deal with this pattern of “I’m right, you’re wrong.”, but actually dealing with “Can we both be right?”. If you are relating to this in any way and you are feeling “Hey, I really would love to get rid of this passion of being right or wrong.” If this sounds like the sort of relationship you’d like to be able to get to where you can actually go “We can both be right. We both need to be able to understand each other and learn the skills more.” then I would love to support you on that journey of getting a greater connection in your relationship and getting rid of this toxic weapon of “I’m right and you’re wrong.” Let’s both be right as we talk about it.
You can give me a call or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please don’t hesitate to contact me because this is something that can start off quite small, but it can actually become quite big. Then the sensitivity and reactivity take hold pretty quickly as a pattern in a relationship. Let’s talk before it breaks and get rid of that in your relationship and have a great day.