When arguing, two people can both be right

When arguing, two people can both be right



By Chuck Woodbury, editor
What do you see in the illustration to the right? Do you see a wineglass? Or do you see something else? You might see something different than what I see.

At first, I saw a wineglass. Then I stared at the illustration for awhile and then, in a split second, I saw something entirely different! After I saw that new image, it was hard to see the wineglass again.

This illustration taught me a lesson long ago. I once knew a person who saw the world differently than me. To me, this person usually dwelled on every little problem that came along: I have always been the opposite. Where this person saw problems, I either saw nothing or saw obstacles that were easily overcome. If a giant boulder were to roll in the middle of the road in front of us, this person would experience great anguish at the obstacle and would often say something like “Why does this always happen to me?” as if there were a cosmic force at work. In the same situation, I would immediately look for a way around the boulder. No problem.

The thing is, we humans are always seeing things differently, each convinced he or she is right. You might like one politician, but a friend can’t stand the person. Trump-Clinton — that sort of thing. One person stresses about a guy who cut you off in traffic: “He’s an ass!” But you think it’s just someone in a hurry. One person thinks his or her religion is the best. Etc.

WHEN WE TRAVEL WITH SOMEONE in an RV, in a cramped space compared to where most people live, the tensions caused by seeing things differently can be very stressful. It can cause arguments. “I am right!” argues one person, who is absolutely convinced a catastrophe is imminent. His or her partner is not even worried. But each is convinced he or she is right.

What this illustration helped me understand is that two people can look at the exact same thing or situation but see it entirely differently. If you see the wineglass and your partner sees the two faces (yes, that’s the other image), you are both right. Go ahead and argue if you wish — “it’s a wineglass” or “it’s two people” — you will both be right (and you will also both be wrong). And yet some people will spend all sorts of energy and get very upset defending their position. It is a very wise person who always thinks, “I can be wrong sometimes and that’s okay.”

The moral of this story is that if you spend very much time disagreeing about things with another person, you might want to try really hard to understand why they believe as they do and accept that it’s their reality. Maybe it’s very difficult to see his or her point of view, but at least try. Don’t just say, “I am right. End of discussion.” A lot of people do that, which causes arguments. When you are in a small space like an RV there is often no place to hide or escape to. That is no fun when there’s tension in the air!



One thought on “When arguing, two people can both be right

  1. Sam Lunt

    Good points. And we need to learn to disagree without being disagreeable. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7RmcdHrYuk

    [Editor: That’s a very short piece of video from the movie “Fiddler on the Roof” regarding this subject.]

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