Written by Kate Pauley
Would you rather be right or be kind?
This question has been coming up in a lot of my sessions recently. I first started thinking about this concept after reading the book: When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron. This book has really changed my life in that it changed how I interact with the world. It is a book that calls for more mindfulness causing you to slow down and notice your patterns rather than step into your immediate reactions.
This is exactly what we seek to do in marriage/couples counseling. Rather than going into our same patterns that aren’t working in our relationships, we seek to identify what those patterns are so that we can become aware of them in the moment. Once we are aware of them we have the choice to do something different. This is where the question, “would you rather be right or would you rather be kind” comes into play. In that moment of awareness, you have the choice to build your case, to make yourself right, to prove all of the ways that your partner is wrong. Or, you could choose to be kind. That might look like asking a clarifying question instead of jumping into assumptions, or it might look like forgiving your partner no questions asked. Maybe it looks like vulnerably sharing what’s coming up for you rather than attacking your partner.
Here are some example statements to be “kind” in the moment rather than reacting:
- “Tell me more about what you meant by that comment”
- “I think I may have misinterpreted what you are saying because I took offense to that, could you clarify for me?”
- “That hurt my feelings, it made me feel _____________, was that your intention?”
Too often we get into the space of trying to make ourselves “right” but inevitably, that means making our partners “wrong.” In doing this, nobody feels good at the end of a fight. You may win the battle, but you lose the war.
In seeking to be kind and understand our partners instead of trying to be “right” the goal is not to “win” the argument, but rather to seek to understand our partners and ourselves better. In doing this, both you and your partner can leave the conversation feeling good about the partnership, even if you have different opinions. In seeking to be “kind” instead of “right” you win the war.