Even If You Are Right, So What?
I belong to the Left Coast Writers Salon that meets once a month at the Book Passage store in Corte Madera, Ca. Not long ago, I did a presentation there for the Salon members about writing and getting your book published.
After the talk and the Q&A, a woman came over and asked to speak with me privately. Turns out she had been present at the other presentation I gave at this book store, soon after The Power of the Possible had been released. The woman wanted to talk to me about what I had said then, and how it had affected her and her life. “One thing especially stood out for me,” she said. “I have been thinking about it ever since.” “What did I say?” I asked.
And she quoted me:
“Even if you are right, so what?” This simple question never fails to provoke a reaction. Raised eye-bows, followed by "what do you mean??"
But then, as I explain, sooner or later - an AHA moment comes and this truth becomes obvious. Even if I am right, so what? If you are having a similar reaction and this question makes the hair on the back of your neck stand – don’t be alarmed. This thought throws the negative ego off completely. What do you mean “so what ???!!!” But…but… but… But doesn’t it MATTER? Isn’t it obvious how critically important it is that they “get” what I am saying??? Not really. Think about it. Why should they get it? So that one more time you’ve gotten the upper hand? So that one more time you have been able to show them… ? Show them what? That you know better? That you ARE better? That if they’d only listen to you all their problems would go away…? A rather arrogant position, don’t you think?
Say you succeed. Your “opponent” is capitulating and either licking his or her wounds and apologizing or silently retreating, sulking in defeat. Where does this leave you?
Are the two of you closer now? Is there more trust? More safety to share each other’s feelings? More desire to share your vulnerabilities without fear of hearing “I told you so”? Or is there something else instead? Not only have the walls between the two of you grown taller, but there is now a fence surrounding your friend, protecting him or her from you completely. And it feels impenetrable. Continue in this fashion and you stand the risk of losing what might have taken you years to build, waking up one day in a big empty bed and wondering what happened. “But I was right,” mumbles the ego…”I know I was.” Even if you were… So what? Here is what I have learned having stumbled against that very hurdle only too many times myself: The real priority is not about winning the argument and not about proving my point.
The real priority is never about being right one more time. The real priority is about getting closer and becoming more intimate, it is about being more caring and more understanding. It is about creating the feeling of safety for each other, so your suggestions (or theirs) can be heard without the need to become defensive about them. The real priority is always about the love.