I remember seeing Wayne Dyer give a talk based on this question, and it really hit home for me. I love debating issues and I can get really caught up in ‘winning’ the argument, showing that I’ve thought it through, or I know more about it – and when I do that, I have no regard for how the other person feels.
I can also be self-righteous – you know, the ‘I told you so’ syndrome – a great way of rubbing salt in the wound!
Both of these ways of being are ego-based: proving yourself, being clever or right. They may be accurate, but they’re surely not kind. They’re designed to make us feel good about ourselves at the expense of the other person.
Wayne Dyer’s words gave me a jolt to the system. I now tend to just stop for a moment before I launch into that winning argument or that self-righteous comment. After all, being right is not going to endear me to others, or even make me feel good for more than a moment.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t ever tell my truth, or that I don’t express my views – far from it. It means that I attempt to express myself in ways that don’t put others down. When you take a moment, you have the space to consider:
- Does it matter who is right on this issue?
- Will it help me or them to grow and evolve?
- Is it really just my point of view rather than a truth?
- How can I express this in a way that’s useful or constructive?
Just by asking ourselves these questions we automatically reset the way we express ourselves with the other person. We are more likely to take into consideration their experience, their world-view. We are more likely to use a helpful approach rather than a bombastic one. And we are more likely to use our own knowledge or experience to help them to grow their own awareness rather than put them down.
I may know I’m right, but I don’t then have to prove it. I would rather be kind than right – it feels better – so let’s just stop for a moment next time we want to prove a point – and be kind instead!