Is it important for you to always be right?

September 12th, 2013 by Bob Bly

I was arguing with AB, my gourmet friend, about meat, of all
things.

He said Ruth Chris porterhouse steak is the best meat money can
buy.

I said I preferred the chopped liver at my local deli.

“But steak is better than chopped liver!” AB said as if
proclaiming the gospel truth. Perhaps you agree with him. I
think most people do.

But the fact remains: AB should not have said steak is better
than chopped liver. What he should have said was: “I like steak
better than chopped liver.” Because food preferences are just
that – preferences, not facts.

Unfortunately, too many of us defend matters of opinion as
vehemently as if they were commandments etched in stone. This is
especially true in political arguments between liberals and
conservatives. Just listen to Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage.

How about you?

Do you have a burning urge to prove to others that you are right
all the time?

Perhaps you should not.

Having strongly held opinions is one thing … but being overly
militant in defending them is something else.

Humans have always been contentious by nature.

Now the Internet has become a breeding ground for displaying
unstinting bickering and argument for all to see.

The next time you’re about to foam at the mouth because you
disagree with something someone said online or elsewhere, take a
breath … and ask yourself why it’s so important for you to argue
with the other guy.

A lot of folks I encounter would say that the reason is simple:
they know they are right and feel obliged to correct the other
person’s misinformation.

The problem is that often, when we think we are right, that is
only our opinion … and it is not a fact – like steak vs. chopped
liver.

For what it’s worth to you, I follow a different approach,
especially in business: It is based on the understanding that I
am not always right and in fact am often wrong.

The result is an open-mindedness to other opinions and differing
ideas many people sometimes lack.

This flexibility of thought was developed based on my 3+ decades
in direct mail copywriting.

Being a direct response copywriter is a humbling experience, for
the following reason: there are times when a mailing you think
of as a sure winner bombs, and conversely, when the mailing you
don’t have much confidence in turns out to be a home run.

This goes to show that our opinions are only that – opinions -
and are often rendered inconsequential by the reality of actual
facts.

According to an old maxim, the only two things that are certain
in this world are death and taxes.

I’m not sure the list of what is certain is quite that limited.

But the list of things that are matters of opinion – and not

matters of absolute fact – is probably much larger than most

people think.

At least, that’s my opinion. What do you think?

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This entry was posted on Thursday, September 12th, 2013 at 7:44 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

11 responses about “Is it important for you to always be right?”

  1. John Kelly said:

    Facts are always perferred but, as you know, many times you must act on an opinion, a well-thought out opinion. My motto has become, “strong opinions weakly held”. Be ready to change opinion in the face of valid counter data.

  2. Jen @ Daycare In Demand said:

    Interesting post, Bob – I think you’re right that much of what people assert as “fact” is merely opinion (and also that “facts” themselves are somewhat squishy from time to time, depending on what you’re basing them on). Regardless, the older I get the more I realize I *don’t* know, and life is so much easier – and less contentious – when you figure that out.

  3. whatever said:

    Hey Bob…ever read Gulliver’s Travels? Lots of Yahoos don’t have the horse sense to know fact from opinion and end up acting like the hind quarters.

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