Why we need to be right

The need to be right is part of our culture. Often, we don't just want to be right, we want to be "more right" than someone else. The need to be "more right" is mostly based on fear, uncertainty, our desire to be socially connected, and misplaced intellectualism.

  • Anxiety of abandonment. They unconsciously worry that people close to them will leave.
  • Fear of failure. Researchers found a link between parent's high expectations and children's fear of failure.
  • Avoiding disappointment.
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Being right is ingrained

The phenomenon to be right start from a very young age as children are taught the benefits of being right. The schooling system is established on the standard of right and wrong answers. The primary goal becomes getting the correct answer quickly.

This mental model is carried into adulthood as being part of us.

It is often painful to get rid of our need to be right, but some strategies can help.

  • Ask more open-ended questions instead of making affirmative statements. If a comment seems illogical, instead of jumping to conclusions, ask more questions.
  • Explore alternative views. Read content from authors that are different from your view. Talk with friends who disagree with you. Then try to understand the opposite view.
  • Fail like a scientist. Everything is an experiment and an opportunity to learn.

The "need to be right" all the time is a kind of fixed mindset that interferes with personal growth. People who want to be right about everything prevent themselves from learning from their mistakes. They fall prey to the Dunning-Kruger effect, where they assume they know more than they really know.

Every time we are proven wrong, we have an opportunity to learn and grow. We can embrace the scientific discovery process, where we can learn through observation.

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