Have you ever been completely convinced that you were “in the right” about something, yet knew that to argue your case would be a moot point?
Sometimes, we butt heads with someone who doesn’t care about the truth – but rather enjoys arguing their case.
Our ego is a part of our personality that helps us cope with reality and protect our self-esteem. Our ego is influenced by our beliefs, values, and expectations. Some of these may be based on false or distorted assumptions that we have learned from our upbringing, culture, or experiences. We may lead with our ego and want to be right because we are attached to these beliefs and want to validate them. We may also feel threatened by people who have different beliefs or opinions and try to prove them wrong or inferior.
It’s important as individuals we strive towards self-awareness. Our ego is truly most harmful when we are oblivious to it.
Isn’t it amazing how far decent people will go when they’re sure they are right?
Sometimes, the best way to win an argument is not to argue at all. That’s what emotional intelligence teaches us: to take the high road and avoid getting dragged into a pointless and heated debate. Even if you are acting in good faith and you are right, you might not be able to convince stubborn or biased people. Instead of wasting your energy and time, you can choose to stay calm and respectful and focus on the facts and the goals. This way, you can win a moral victory and preserve your dignity and reputation.
I was introduced to the concept of emotional intelligence by a mentor, Jim Vaive. The idea that a factor of intelligence could be learned & improved through practice, hooked me. Working with Jim was like drinking through a fire hose, but my first “aha” was… I can use my intellect to change my behavior. Cool.
The idea was further explored in my work with Steve Anderson and his firm, Integrated Leadership Systems. Steve taught me the value of frequent journaling to understand how, what and when I “feel”. He helped me focus on doing something that scared me every day, and when I felt afraid, to “do it scared”.
Taking the high road is not easy. It requires courage and patience. You might face criticism, insults, or even slander from those who disagree with you. But you should not let them affect you or lower your standards. You should remember that their words reflect more on them than on you. You should also remember that you are not alone. Some people appreciate your integrity and professionalism and will support you in the long run.
One situation where taking the high road is especially important is when you have to deal with a leader or a peer who likes to argue. They might try to pressure you into agreeing with them or challenge your opinions. They might use emotional manipulation or logical fallacies to sway you. They might make you feel inferior or insecure. But you should not fall for their traps. You should not go to their level or adopt their negative style of conversation. You should not let them distract you from the main issue or the best solution. Stand your ground and communicate clearly and politely. You should also know when to end the conversation or walk away if it becomes unproductive or disrespectful.
Taking the high road is a sign of strength, not weakness. It shows that you have confidence in yourself and your values. It shows that you have empathy and respect for others. It shows you have a vision and a purpose beyond simply winning an argument. Choosing not to be right, or win the argument, is winning with emotional intelligence.
And there is always the possibility that your belief isn’t worth continuing to hold onto. It’s time to abandon our fears around being wrong. As my friend Perry Maughmer says, you can choose to be right, or you can choose to be successful.
Be well & God bless.