Perhaps you have heard the expression – you can “right yourself right out of a relationship”?

How important is it for you to argue your rightness to the end? Are you willing to stop and consider the others point of view? Or even the situation? If not, you may win the battle, but you can well lose the war.

If you find yourself, and who hasn’t?, completely baffled by someone’s behaviour, one of the most effective ways to understand it, is to understand yourself. Yep, self- reflection, perhaps even the willingness to consider there are pieces of information you are missing.

Don’t misunderstand, it may well be that you are right about the situation, but what or how is the other person seeing it differently, what is their perspective? Which leads back to – what is your perspective?

Differing viewpoints and perspectives

Start with…I wonder why “I” and then move out to wonder why “they”. You might be surprised by what you find.

Like what? Try introversion. This term is widely misunderstood.  Often thought to mean someone is shy, withdrawn and not much of a team player. Overall, something to get over than to be. Meanwhile its counterpart, extroversion, is the popular North American cultural model. Extroversion is confident, outgoing and a goal oriented, get it done person. Introversion bad, extroversion, good.These two factors alone, can make considering all aspects of a disagreement more challenging . Especially if either party is sure that their way if the logical one.

First you have to understand what you need

Several years ago I wandered by a shelf at the book store. There I found a new book by an author I had never heard of, Susan Cain. The book, “Quiet:The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” . Within it I discovered an explanation for pieces of myself that I had, in the past, to defend. Things like turning down social engagements, or requiring quiet when focusing on tasks. Why I wanted time to review information before being asked to give an opinion. And finally, why when at a social function I was more likely in the corner with a few people, rather than speaking to every person in the room.

I was not a standoffish hermit, too slow-witted to understand and give feedback. Nope. I am an introvert!

I turn down social engagements because I require time by myself to recharge, to think my thoughts and pursue more solitary pursuits. I want information before hand so I can turn the subject over in my mind without distracting chatter. I talk to just a few people, because I am more likely to want to talk to them about a subject matter in deeper terms rather than in summary highlights.

Understanding their needs and believing the best

Where extroverts thrive on more people, more energy, more fun; introverts look for pacing and opportunities to be alone.

Consider then, what that means within a family or in a relationship. For myself, it meant being judged as “not caring about family” because I voiced a desire to not attend every extended family event to which we got an invitation. It meant that when I was surrounded by people all the time for hours and hours at a time and took a walk to regroup and de-stress, I was considered to be standoffish and at times, even selfish. It’s not that I don’t like people, in fact I am quite friendly, but my energy comes from time alone.

Extroverts, and I have many friends who are, have full calendars and are more likely to move from group to group, gathering their energy from all those present. Too much time alone and they will be putting out a call to see who is free.

Introversion and extroversion are on a spectrum of course. It’s not all or nothing and many introverts have learned how to succeed within the parameters of the work world and many extroverts are accepting and intuitive enough to know when someone is needing time on their own.

Creating a win-win

So, how does this all factor into right and wrong within a relationship? I think it always comes back to believing the best of the person with whom you are disagreeing. If you are arguing about why you have to go to Aunt Mabel’s 90th birthday, or having a vacation in a remote area, where is the point of negotiation?

Is the birthday party for the entire day, part of the day, one of you leaving earlier than the other?  You might bully, cajole and guilt your family member into going, but at what cost? And, similarly, withdrawing and making the other person uncomfortable as they make the the rounds also isn’t helpful.

Similarly, introverts can wish to have an entire vacation in the mountains, unhooked to technology, interactions limited to park staff as you enter and exit the park. Nirvana for one, hell for the other.

It’s not about who is right, because in these cases, you may both be, for yourselves. Instead it is understanding and respecting where the discussion has originated and then deciding how each of you can get what you need. Sometimes it will lean one way more than another, but if there is a genuine desire to understand where the objection is, you are less likely to “right yourself out of a relationship.”

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