Is Being Right Worth It?

People love being right. Anytime we get the chance to be right we seem to take it. Being right, and its corollary, making someone else wrong, is like an addiction. It's as bad for us as smoking, over-eating, gambling, or any fill-in-the-blank vice; you know it's not good for you, but you like doing it so much that in the moment, you don't care and you can't seem to help yourself.

While we are compelled to be right by our survival instinct, we also have a choice. It really seems as though we can't help it, but we can; we just don't want to. Why not? Because from where we are looking, the benefits seem great! However, what we don't seem to pay attention to is that there are also costs involved.

Do you even know what the benefits and the costs are?

Most of us have never actually thought that through. Could you even put them into words?

Let's take a look and see what we see...

Benefits Is Being Right Worth It?

  • You get to be right!
  • What a great rush that is
  • You feel smart and you feel accomplished
  • Maybe you get a jolt of spite or vindictiveness
  • You get to feel better than the other person – smug, and
  • You get to stick it to them.

I'm sure there's more, but this is a good start. Awesome!


Is Being Right Worth It?

  • You've made them wrong, and you've also made them feel stupid, small, worthless, less than
  • You've diminished their power
  • You've disrespected them
  • Your relationship with them has been lessened, and
  • Your value in their eyes has gone down a notch.

If you get a sense of any of that, or if you have a conscience, right after you get the payoff,

  • You might start to feel bad about yourself or about the situation.
  • They might not forgive you
  • Your stress levels are impacted
  • Are you getting riled up? Losing sleep?
  • Are you putting off things you need to do, such as work, paying bills, or being productive because you're thinking about what happened, or reliving what happened?

If you share the story about what happened with your friends or family,

  • Now they are impacted by it.
  • Do they really want to hear it?
  • Have you put them in the middle?
  • What do they think of you now?

I'm sure there's more, but this is a good start.

Ask yourself: Is being right worth it? Is it REALLY worth it? Is being right worth the price?

Someone once said, “You can be right, or you can be happy, but you can't be both.” I think that's true. But I'm not going to be right about it... I'd rather be happy.

What's your take?

Is Being Right Worth It?

Caren Field (MA, LLPC) is a professional individual and couples counselor with a Master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, and has been studying human nature since 1998 and has been in private practice since 2007. Her latest project, a series of workshops called Liberating with Honor, is designed to teach people how to heal themselves (and others) from emotional injures and how to set themselves free!

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Most Helpful Guy

  • I actually don't agree, even though this is a topic that affects me quite a bit - as even on this site, I get into unnecessary debates just to try to convince the other person that their view is incorrect.

    I personally don't see it as a means to "feel superior", knowing something more or better or with greater validity just means I've been exposed to the data/information that is required to think what is "more right". It is not necessarily their "fault" that they believe something incorrect either... only if they stick to it and are not willing to change their view. People have the capacity to learn. It is not their fault that they haven't been exposed to an idea or knowledge that they didn't even know they lacked.

    And the reason why I primarily disagree is because there is nothing positive about being left ignorant. As I've read somewhere on Reddit before regarding what's admired in a senior programmer:

    "What's important is that a senior programmer has to be able to tell you where you're wrong with what you do... and do it in such a way that you'll LIKE, ADMIRE and RESPECT him for it; rather than feel offended, antagonized, and put down."

    • Thanks for contributing to the conversation. Please see my comment to ThisDudeHere for clarification of what I meant by being right.

Most Helpful Girl

  • It depends on what your beliefs are about the subject and how you feel about it. Letting someone else tell you how to feel about certain things defiantly is not right.
    Instead of trying to point to who is right and who is wrong, we all should just respect each others opinions and agree to disagree.
    Many people have to have it their way or the high way and that is not what life is about. Life is about living and making your own choices. Let people figure things out for themselves. No one likes a person consistently telling them what to do.


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What Guys Said 13

  • This article is wrong.

    People should focus on not being insecure, so they can freely admit when they are wrong without feeling "diminished" or "disrespected." It's not that big of a deal, and you're not helping a person by coddling their ego.

  • “It's as bad for us as smoking, over-eating, gambling, or any fill-in-the-blank vice; you know it's not good for you”
    Excuse me but how? I mean if I AM actually right, there’s nothing bad with it.

    “and you've also made them feel..”
    Irrelevant. What matters that the truth has been spoken. If a person can’t handle the truth, that’s their own problem. The truth hurts but it is a necessary pain.

    “You've diminished their power”
    And? Wasn’t my job to uphold it either.

    “You've disrespected them”
    Massively disagree. This is some advanced level stupid logic (no offense to you). You’re saying that disagreeing with someone is the same as disrespecting them? Fuck... that means I have disrespected every person that I have ever known.

    “Your relationship with them has been lessened, and
    Your value in their eyes has gone down a notch.”
    Again. If a person hates me after simply stating the truth THEY are the ones who are immature, not me. Hate me all you want but if you claim that the Earth is flat and hate me when I say that it’s not, that is your problem and not mine.
    “If you get a sense of any of that, or if you have a conscience, right after you get the payoff”
    So if I don’t cater to the emotions and feelings of other to the point of ignoring simple logic, I don’t have a conscience?
    “You might start to feel bad about yourself or about the situation.”
    Again, if they’re offended by the truth then the only way I can feel sorry of them is by feeling sorry over their stupidity.

    “They might not forgive you”
    Not my problem. If one can’t forgive the truth, then I don’t really need such an imbecile.

    “Your stress levels are impacted”

    “Are you getting riled up? Losing sleep?”
    If I was right and they don’t like it, I’m sure as hell not going to lose sleep over it.

    All right I’m not going to continue on but you get my point. Truth over emotions is key. And if someone can’t handle the truth, THEY have to grow up. Really, these kinds of posts are the reason our society is becoming ever more sensitive and pushover-like. People need to man up (or you perhaps need to woman up).

    • @ThisDudeHere I'm sorry, I could have avoided this much misunderstanding by adding a few examples of what I meant by "being right." To be more clear: What I was referring to is the righteousness we take on and the being-ness of being right - not about speaking the truth about something, or facts or emotions.

      For instance: If someone is telling a story about something, and they say it happened last Tuesday, do we need to correct them because it was actually last Wednesday?
      Or if we have a particular way we like to load the dishwasher, and someone else has a particular way they like to load the dishwasher, do we have to be right about our way of loading the dishwasher?
      In cases like those, I'm saying it's difficult for many people to resist the urge of being right.

      I invite you to re-read myTake with this new point of view and see if it makes more sense to you.

      And I happen to agree with you: when you are speaking your truth, if they don't like it, it's their problem, not yours.

  • I disagree with your points on how being right makes the other party less power and disrespected.

    It seems as if you're framing self-righteousness as a moral or ethical right, which isn't true. Just because a person thinks he is "right" and puts the "wrong" person down for it, doesn't mean he's morally or ethically right; he's just being self-righteous and that's subjective. In a way, the one who's putting others down for being "wrong" in his eyes has some form of superiority complex; he feels better than the other party by being a "right" person, and sees them as "wrong" to separate him from them.

    I would argue that being morally or ethically right is definitely worth it as it seeks to change the way a person thinks, speaks or does something for genuine good (not self-right).

    This can be further elaborated in an example wherein a mechanic is being blamed for skipping critical procedures during maintenance work due to laziness, which can result in not only harming himself, but endangering the lives of others as well. The wrongdoer (the lazy mechanic) feels disrespected and inferior to the supervisor disciplining him, but the supervisor is doing good by correcting the mechanic's bad work ethic and enabling the mechanic to change for the better.

    Righting a wrong can often be taken harshly, but its value is absolutely worth it when being right can save lives and prevent tragedies.

    • I can see how morals and ethics got brought into ip this discussion. Please see my comment to ThisDudeHere and some examples that I left out of myTake. MyTake is not meant to be about right vs wrong, it is about what works in relationships vs what doesn't work.

    • If so, you should've clarified it as what works in a relationship and what doesn't in your Take; I suggest you add an update for the sake of future readers. You never established the context of your argument of "right" and "wrong" ways in a relationship (if that's what you're talking about here). As it stands, your Take is lacking in a clear context and direction, which turns out to be very misleading to readers. Just my two cents as a serious writer.

  • Yeah i really think its more important. Its their problem if they are wrong. They feel disrespected? They shouldn't have been wrong from the beginning.

  • Finally someone understands how awkward it is for me, being right ALL the time...

  • I think the way the world is positioned today, it's all about right and no one care abouts wrong... second place is not first... there's competition all over the globe to get things 'right'... we are trained to be right, the closer we are to 100% the better judgments we get

    The first set of costs, I can honestly say is the thrill of being right! The second and third set... yes I can agree not always the best feeling BUT nevertheless the reliever should respect when someone is correct and they are not.

    No one should feel bad for being right..

  • "Is Being Right Worth It? "
    If being right mean destroying something more important, then no.

  • humans need validation. with out it they feel lonely and coward.

  • Only if it improves life in general in some way. Otherwise, sometimes being right sucks.

  • It's so annoying that I'm right all the time. It's a handicap.

  • disagree. you're conflating bad personality traits with the norm.

  • Being right means you are living correctly.

  • It depends what you are being right about. If it is something important, something which the person needs to understand for reasons of safety or for some other reason where the consequences or potential consequences of nurturing their delusion are worse than the damage done by confronting them with the truth then you are doing more good than harm.

    Of course it's important to get them to see the truth in as palatable a way as possible.

    If people's delusions are harmless I never contradict them, if they are harmful I try to help them see their mistake without making it a confrontation.


What Girls Said 1

  • Yes its good to be right if it protects me from being a submissive sheep.


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