Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"But I'm Not Wrong"

Everyone always thinks they've got it together more than someone else they know. "That friend of mine is always getting lost"; "Man, I am such a better driver than she is"; "I think I'd go nuts if I was as disorganized as that woman is"; "I could write a better headline than that in my sleep", and so on. Are we just being condescending and self-important? Maybe sometimes. But most of the time: we're not wrong. We do have a good sense of direction, we are organized to the point of being nicknamed OCD, we do have a better sense of what sounds good and what doesn't. It doesn't mean we're great at everything and better than everyone else. We're just right about this. [Note: Headline taken from Bill Maher's stand-up show. We must give credit where credit is due, and sometimes when it's not.]
    Should we tolerate others' faults or should we try to correct them? That's a tricky question. Some people are so set in their ways that it would take a meteor through the middle of their house to get them to change anything. Others might respond to a little gentle constructive criticism. Trying to correct people is something that often comes into play either in a relationship or between teacher and student (and I mean the latter to be in a very broad sense--parent and child, mentor and mentee, elder and younger, etc). While this isn't always a good tactic, often resulting in hurt feelings and insecurities, if it's a serious issue, like fire hazard or risk of life kind of serious, of course it should be addressed. In all other cases, you pick your battles, I suppose.
    Consider: Why do we get so upset when other people aren't as good at something as we are? For me, it's usually because they're interfering with my ability to fulfill my obligations and responsibilities. For example, X's disorganization is causing me problems because she procrastinates, so I can't do what I'm supposed to do until X does her part first. It's frustrating, certainly. We hate being put on hold, getting there on time when everyone else is running late, being ready to do step 5 when everyone else is still working on step 3, or feeling like we have to fix other people's mistakes because we can do it better. It's exhausting feeling like the person who's always on the ball when everyone else seems to be sleepwalking or slacking off.
    While I'd like to say, in the spirit of being neighborly, that we should be a little more forgiving of these people. Sometimes, WE'RE the ones who are running late, or falling behind in our work, or making a mistake that someone else has to fix. But we have excuses, and because we find them more valid than those that others give to us, it's easy to forgive ourselves doing for something wrong.
Is that hypocritical? Probably.
    Still, if we are on the ball 90 percent of the time, compared to other people having it together only 20 percent of the time, it's fair to feel better about yourself for not being like them, those underachievers. Just because we slip up from time to time doesn't make it wrong for us to accuse them of the same thing, because unlike us, they do it all the time.
Nothing enlightening today. Just a little outburst. Even though we do the same thing sometimes, it doesn't make us wrong to point out that the underachiever does it all the time. It's OK to let your ego swell a little bit in cases like this. A boost in ego may prevent you from voicing your frustrations in a less than subtle way. Just don't let Ego take over.
You think I'm harsh? Fine. But I'm not wrong.


Bob said...

Most times when I'm over critical of others, the Powers That Be put me in my place. Instant karma I guess, so it keeps me a little bit more understanding and compassionate of others. At least most of the time.

Outnumbered said...

Omg, I am the worst! Steve is very much "my way is the right way and the only way" so when he is wrong or things don't pan out i LET HIM HAVE IT...but when I am wrong I brush it under the rug very quickly, if I even tell him I screwed up at all. I think I do it because it gives me satisfaction when he is humbled a little and it scares me to be wrong because it might fuel his ego fire

Constant Writer said...

Just to clarify, tolerance and understanding are admirable qualities we should strive for, but sometimes, it is ok to be right, and let people know it. I was going to get into compromise, but I thought it might throw off the spirit of what I was getting at. I was in a very uncompromising mood the other day.

+Constant Writer

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