Do you ever get into an argument where you feel like you’re right and they’re wrong and you know that they feel they’re right and you’re wrong?
We all do. It happens when you and the other person apply different values. You can both consider yourselves right and the other wrong. Sometimes I call the situation “The Worst Problem In The Worldâ„¢” because of how much the problem can grow and infect relationships—of individuals and large groups of people, like nations.
One of the roots of the problem is that each party wants to feel understood but each is also trying so hard to make themselves heard, they don’t listen to the other. It creates a stable unpleasant situation.
I’ve found a way to resolve it if you are willing to take the initiative to stop pushing your agenda and make the other person feel understood using the Confirmation Cycle. It makes the other person feel understood and decreases the intensity of their emotions. Doing so is hard. You have to have the presence of mind to realize the situation despite the intensity of your emotions. Then, while frustrated, impatient, and often angry at the other person, you have to act generously and put their interests before yours.
The other person, feeling they’re right and you’re wrong, rarely notices your sacrifice. They often feel justified in being listened to, even entitled. You can often forget about them acknowledging your sacrifice. You improve the situation at the cost of feeling heard and understood yourself.
In a long-term relationship you can revisit what you did when more calm, but it takes time.
What I don’t see how to solve
So much for you taking the initiative in such situations.
The challenge I haven’t seen how to solve is how to motivate the other person to make you feel understood first when they think they’re right and you’re wrong.
I have tried many ways for years and have never found a way—certainly not in a short-term relationship. Even in long-term relationships it’s hard. Someone who says in a calm time that they will do it the next time The Worst Problem In The World arises will end up on the other side of an empathy gap when their emotions get intense and not follow through.
If anyone has suggestions of how to motivate a person feeling intensely self-righteous to listen to you enough to make you feel understood, when there is no third party to help, I’d love to hear it.
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