Do you want to be right or effective?
Sometimes we desire validation so much that we forsake effectiveness for the feeling of being right.
Being right is so important that we defend ourselves when questioned or disagreed with.
Defensive behavior indicates that being right is vital to us.
But how effective are we? How is our relationship with those with whom we are speaking? Are we pushing them away?
Being right usually stems from our strong sense of self identity.
We protect this sense of self and defend our beliefs. When we feel personally “dinged” in any way we often get angry and defensive.
Feeling annoyed or angry, perhaps a little self-rightous, is a wake-up call telling us that something is amiss. Is it our attitude? And is there something in the outer that we need to take care of?
In either case we will be more effective if we begin to inquire into our motive for thinking and acting.
How important is it to be right? What would we lose by having incorrect facts?
And even more importantly, who can declare what is right or wrong? Who made us God, ruler of the world?
When we take things personally we believe we are a separate being. We feel disconnected from others. We forget that we all are a part of the great ocean of life, and that we all live and breathe this same energy that continually re-creates us.
And we feel disconnected to those who challenge us with a different perspective.
How best do we learn and grow spiritually? By separating ourselves mentally (and oftentimes physically) from those who have a different view from ours? Are we here to protect our present views?
I doubt we learn much by pulling away from others who disagree with us. Please note that I said disagree with –not abuse us.
Instead we can learn something new by drawing the other out. We can say, “Tell me more.”
Perhaps there is something missing from our view. Others show us another perspective.
People love to be heard. That includes us. As we develop the art of listening, rather than defending ourselves, our world becomes larger.
We also will discover that when others feels listened to they are more inclined to take time to listen to us. Together there is the possibility of coming up with new solutions.
I like to begin my day by asking the universe to reveal what I need to know.
If, as I watch the day unfold, I find myself feeling defensive or resentful (even when it’s only in private) I know the universe is showing me areas that are in the dark. They need my attention.
I sometimes find I need to dialogue with this person. I believe in doing my inner work first. In doing so I am more effective in dealing with anything in the outer.
I can either dialogue in my journal or by using two chairs facing each other. It takes two to dialogue.
If I am using the empty chair method I speak first from my position, saying all that is on my mind, and then I move into the empty chair and get into the shoes and mental outlook of the other. I then speak back as if I am the other person. This person has heard my words and now speaks back to me.
It is amazing how much we know about what is in another’s heart when we open to them.
This dialogue can also be done on paper in a journal.
Going back and forth in an open conversation with the other brings new insights. I often find what is missing from my view by listening to the other.
Heart to heart conversations build bridges that span different lands and different points of view.
Gandhi was a great example of this. He was angry at the injustice he saw from the British who ruled India. Yet, he did not direct his anger at the British. Rather he directed it at the unjust system in which they were all involved.
By treating the British with respect and dignity, he gradually won over their respect. They began listening. By using his anger as a wake-up call and not letting it spill out to those who opposed him, he changed an unjust system.
This is true effectiveness. It came from a disciplined mind and heart that had learned restraint, from one who continually checked his own motive.
Through dialogue the unjust system fell apart. New solutions were found and implemented.
Gandhi used ahisma: non-violent, selfless love. It is the opposite of self-righteousness and feeling superior to those who have different views.
We may not be a Gandhi, but we are a ruler in our own life! We make choices every moment of every day.
Do we want to be right, or effective?