It's Not Always Great To Be "The Smartest Person In The Room"

A person who never changes his mind is either stubborn or stupid.

Are you one of those people who’s always got to be right? If so, you’re probably not much fun to live with, and you may be difficult to work with. After all, if you’re always right, that means everyone else is wrong–and I guarantee you, they don’t like it.

Maybe you think a stubborn refusal to change your mind is a sign of strength. Not so. Stubbornness is often a sign of insecurity. In fact, stubbornness may be nothing more than a cover up for poor self-esteem.

A secure person, on the other hand, knows he doesn’t know everything. He knows there is always more to learn, and there is always two ways of seeing things. That insight gives him the strength to change his mind when new information suggests a change of mind would be appropriate.

It’s like the two monks on a journey. As they approached a river, they saw a woman standing at the river’s edge, unable to cross. Despite the fact they had taken vows never to touch a woman, one of the monks put the woman on his shoulder and carried her across the river.

When they reached the other side and continued their journey, the nonsupportive monk lashed out at the other for breaking his vows. He went on and on, criticizing his travel companion, until finally the supportive monk said, “Brother, I set her down at the river’s edge. You’re still carrying her.” One monk had let go, but the other had not.

If you’re guilty of always needing to be right, ask yourself if it’s worth it. Afterall, YOU WILL PAY A HIGH PRICE FOR ALWAYS NEEDING TO BE RIGHT. And the price you pay will be damage to your relationships.

You see, no one wants to live or work with a person who’s always right. The behavior looks arrogant and makes everyone else feel inferior. And when people feel inferior, they will withdraw from you, talk about you, or challenge you–none of which you probably want.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have principles, standards, and values. I’m not saying you shouldn’t stand up for those things. But sometimes compromise or concession is more important than being right. It’s like Robert Anderson says in his book, Solitaire, and Double Solitaire, “In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for your marriage.”

So what should you do if you’re guilty of being a bit too stubborn? Whenever you’re inflexible or self-righteous, ask yourself: “WHAT’S MORE IMPORTANT IN THIS SITUATION–TO BE RIGHT OR TO HAVE A RELATIONSHIP?” Your answer will tell you what to do.

Action:  Take a good, honest, and perhaps uncomfortable one-minute look at yourself this week. If you’re one of those people who need to be right too much of the time, the next time someone disagrees with you, try some new behavior. Instead of insisting you’re right, respond by saying, “You could be right. Tell me more,” and then really listen.