Somewhere, while we’re growing up, we learn right vs. wrong. This became the battle ground of most of our arguments; who’s right — who’s wrong. Some of us need to be right, so we will argue and fight with someone else, as if they are trying to control us and make us wrong. We must win, ‘to be right.’ All the while, in order “to be right”, the other person must be made “wrong.” When I argue to be right and argue to make you wrong, I’m actually attempting to win the outcome; to receive the trophy of right. 

How We Argue

Out of our addictions, we have a core understanding of how we argue based on our view of right and wrong. Not all of us fight to be right, some of us actually argue to “not be wrong.” I can be the person who has to be right or I can be the person who fights not to be wrong. The person wanting not to be wrong appears to be trying to control, when in reality, the fear of being wrong is greater that the need to be right. 
When observed, both argue the same except the person who needs to be right has to make the other wrong. The person who is fearful of being wrong, needs to make the other wrong and therefore, it’s nearly impossible to resolve the conflict. To end the argument one simply walks away into isolation and avoidance only to repeat it all again another day. We may change and have a different story to argue about, but it will end with the same result. We can do this for years and never know how to resolve conflicts with others. This can be extremely damaging to a relationship when we don’t know how to disagree.

Resolving the View of My Story

The reality is most arguments are an attempt to resolve a different view of the story we know. We need to convince the other of the rightness of my view; my story. Before we learned right and wrong, we actually were right and learning. We could make a mistake and learn from it. We were right and were given a chance to express what we thought and to have the opportunity to learn a better way, a different way or simply another way. 
Usually around five or six years old, we begin to learn our negative emotions such as fear and the fear to be wrong. Who among us today has the intent to be wrong with relationships? Every discussion we have with another is started with the feeling of being right. We share our thoughts and our view. We express our thoughts with our words as right as we believe them to be. When the other person has a different view and it’s expressed, a feeling of wrong can begin. For years, we’ve been practicing a need to be right or a need not to be wrong and we bring this need into our relationships with others. We will do it this way for years without a method to resolve.

Learning and Validating creates Relational Intimacy 

Each of us has life experiences that gave us impressions, words, thoughts, feelings, needs and wants. We have learned how to express ourselves from these life experiences. When someone shares their thought and we define that thought as incorrect, we are actually violating the person. When someone shares their thought and we learn more of how they came to their view, then we validate the person. 
What would happen in an argument if we choose rather than being right or wrong, we choose to be right or learning? By allowing the other person to be right, allows me the opportunity to ‘learn’ their view. By doing so, we share intimacy. 
When I make someone wrong they pull back away, when we make someone right, they move towards intimacy. If all we do is argue the story, intimacy will decrease. To argue the story is a fight of right and wrong. To be relational, we argue to make the other right by learning who they are. 
Taking time to learn some ones impressions, words, thoughts, feelings, needs and wants is taking the time to develop healthy intimacy. When we argue only to be right or make the other wrong, we fail our relationships. We each have a choice to be right, to not be wrong or to let the other be right. If one is talking and one is listening, then the listener validates what is shared and allows the other to be right. We each have a right to what we think, and we each must allow the other this truth. No one starts a conversation with the intent to be wrong and no one has intimacy with someone who believes it’s their responsibility to tell us we’re wrong. I’m right and I’m learning.
Michael is the co-founder and Clinical Director of North Pointe Counseling Center. Michael holds a Master of Arts in Professional Counseling, and a Bachelor of Science in Electronic Engineering and Technologies. Visit