My wife had me take a personality test the other day. She didn’t like the result, though, so she changed my answers so the result would more accurately reflect what she thought my personality was. I wonder what her personality type is?
One of the statements that you have to agree or disagree with was, “Winning a debate matters less to you than making sure no one gets upset.” I think the point of what they’re getting at could be more accurately phrased the opposite way, “You try to win at all costs, even if you’re being a jerk about it.”
I noticed a couple of things about the original statement.
First, I noticed it doesn’t say anything about if you’re actually right or not. It just has to do with winning. I know a lot of people who will argue a point to death, even if by the end of the discussion they’re clearly wrong. Sure, everyone likes to be right, but the ability to admit you’re wrong can also be an admirable trait.
Second, the question also doesn’t take into consideration the fact that you can still try to win a debate without upsetting the other person. You can be reasonable and charitable. You can be calm and rational. If the other person is all of those things as well, an exhaustive debate can be profitable. If nothing else, you can better understand the other person’s point of view.
Of course, there are people who will get upset no matter how charitable you are. Those types of people are called “the other political party.” If you find yourself in one of those discussions, you’re now in a position to agree or disagree with the statement, “Winning a debate matters less to you than making sure no one gets upset.” At what point do you realize the discussion is fruitless? At what point are you horsing around with a deadbeat?
When I was a wee lad, a wise old Japanese man said to me, “You know what your problem is? You’d rather be right, no matter what. I’d rather get my way.”
That was Ken Sakoda, and he said that to me several years into my first advertising job. I thought about it, and of course he was right. It took me awhile to understand it and try to incorporate it into not only my professional life, but also my personal life.
I’m still working on it, of course. But it’s not easy being flexible when you really are always right.
Just ask my wife.