Sep 242015 1 Response

Why I’m Rarely Wrong About What I Write

It happens on occasion, but not very often. At times, I will write something and be completely wrong. Someone will point it out. I will recognize the mistake, apologize, and make it right. But it is rare.

In most situations, I’m absolutely right in the words I put on screen. People will object. I will listen, but I will not change my mind. I won’t change it because it doesn’t need to be changed. Why should I move from my correct opinion? (See: The Number One Rule of Disagreement)

I’m rarely wrong about what I write because I rarely write about right and wrong. I do at times. There are specific articles or issues that are about the black and white of right or wrong. But in most cases, I do not. A majority of the articles I write are not definitive statements on a whole situation. Most articles show a perspective, a viewpoint, one way to look at an issue, or one truth which applies within a certain context.

Some truth is absolute. It applies to all people, from all times, in every circumstance.

Other truth is proverbial. It’s a general statement of how life works. It is true in most situations and circumstances, but certain nuances might changes its application.

What I write, and much of the information we interact with, is proverbial truth. I’m not claiming my idea totally defines an issue. What I am writing is a perspective which is true and often overlooked.

When proverbial truth is confused for absolute truth, conflict arises. It arises, not because the proverbial truth is wrong, but because it is limited. If you think I’m telling the whole story, but I’m only telling part of the story, you will quickly see things I didn’t mention. Thinking I missed part of the issue, it is easy to assume my opinion was wrong because it was uninformed.

Consider the article If I Could Only Tell Wives One Thing. Some read the article, assume this is all I have to say on the topic, and become outraged. I get hate mail saying I’m a typical guy who only cares about sex and am pressuring women to have sex even in bad marriages. But that’s not at all what I am saying. In the article, I am writing about the importance of sex to men, but I also write I Wouldn’t Sleep With You Either. In that article, I’m telling some husbands that their wives won’t sleep with them because they are being bad husbands.

In one article, I’m encouraging more sex.  In the other article, I’m justifying less sex. Both articles are true. They don’t contradict each other; they simply speak to different situations.

A lot of miscommunication happens because we confuse a claim of proverbial truth for a claim of absolute truth. When someone is telling what they see, we assume they are claiming to see everything. (See: Everyone Has a Right to Ignore Your Opinion)

Two Responses

Knowing the difference between proverbial truth and absolute truth should create two responses:

1. When speaking, we should carefully distinguish between the two. We must define what we are saying. Do we believe our opinion is true in very circumstance or is it only applicable in specific areas? When disagreement occurs, are people disagreeing with our idea or wrongly assuming we are trying to say more than we mean.

2. When listening, we should think less of right vs. wrong and more about perspective. We are trained to listen to others and to determine if they are right or wrong. In certain situations, this is an appropriate way to listen. In many other scenarios, right vs. wrong should not be on our mind. Instead, we should simply listen in order to understand one person’s perspective. Their opinion is what they believe based on their experience and the part of the issue they are focusing on. They aren’t claiming theirs is the only opinion. They aren’t even claiming their viewpoint covers the whole issue. When judging right or wrong, we often determine if we agree or disagree. When listening for perspective, we simply learn. We need to learn more and determine less.

Every day we are bombarded with the opinions of others. In some cases, they are trying to define an entire situation. In other scenarios, people are simply giving their perspective on part of the issue.  Knowing the difference between the two greatly influences how we listen. (See: Opinions Rarely Matter)

We should never hesitate from discussing absolute truth. It is real and we must seek to understand it. Yet in many scenarios, someone is not defining the whole. They are describing part of our experience. In those cases, there is no need to determine if we agree or disagree with them. We can simply listen, learn, and apply their understanding to our experience.




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