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A little while ago I was part of a conversation that turned into a confrontation between the two other individuals.

It wasn’t just any two other people – it was a coworker and our boss.

What started as a friendly, general discussion of how the shift went quickly turned into an honest conversation about what we liked, what we thought we could improve on, and what we found irritating. And while that in and of itself is great – and often productive – this one took an interesting turn.

“The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion.”

G.K. Chesterton

Without going into too much detail (for the sake of their privacy) I’ll just say that the coworker expressed their dislike for the occasional “micromanaging” being done and then the boss expressed her dislike for the coworker’s method of speaking to her.

It’s interesting to see how people respond in situations like this. Some will realize they’ve gotten themselves into hot water and begin backpedaling to safer ground. Some will dive right in and argue till they feel they’ve ‘won’. Others will simply apologize for any offense and end the conversation.

Each individual will inevitably have their own instinctual ways of handling confrontational situations. If you’re bull-headed you’ll stand your ground and argue your point. If you’re passive, you’ll backpedal or apologize and walk away.

For example, I’ve been known to be pretty strong-willed and stubborn. If I thought I was right, I’d stand my ground. If I thought someone was treating me unfairly I would absolutely give them a piece of my mind.

But somewhere along the way to thirty years old, I learned something.

Sometimes being right is not as important as maintaining the relationship.

Sometimes being right is not as important as maintaining the relationship. Click To Tweet

I’m going to say that again in more detail because I know for a fact that there are people out there who do not yet have a firm grasp on this concept.

Sometimes your feeling of being right and/or proving your point does not matter as much as the integrity of the relationship with the person whom you feel is wrong.

Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely think that ‘hashing it out’ can be a great way to really figure out the problem and work towards a compromise. I also think that the severity of the disagreement as well as the feelings involved matter a great deal, too.

But in the situation I witnessed, I couldn’t understand why the employee thought it was a good idea to argue their point, even after being gently reminded that he was not really in a position to do so. The boss was polite but grew increasingly firm and expressed her dislike for being disrespected.

(And all the while I was trying to figure out how to quietly leave the situation – it was super awkward.)

The point is, the employee was so concerned with being heard and expressing their opinion that he stopped caring about the relationship. He totally disregarded the fact that the person on the other side of the argument was the person who made his schedule and signed his paychecks.

Why do you think that is? Was it because he’s younger (22) and just didn’t have as much experience with handling confrontation? Was it because he didn’t understand the possible consequences of his actions (I mean, the boss easily could have decided he was too disrespectful and hard to work with)?

Who knows.

All I know is that in that moment I wanted to shake him and tell him that expressing his point and defending himself was not as important as he thought it was.

Anyways, I eventually got out of there, politely and discreetly, so I have no idea how the altercation ended. Except that the employee still has a job.

Awkward as it was to witness, I’m glad I was able to take something away from that. Now I know that the employee is super stubborn and may be hard to talk to if/when I need to discuss something with them. I also know that the boss is a firm, fair person who is going to stand her ground when she feels disrespected – but honestly, I would think most bosses are like that.

And I also realized that I’m grateful for the reaffirmation of this life lesson. I can only hope that the next time I find myself in a disagreement with anyone whom I love or respect that I remember my own advice: being right is not as important as maintaining the relationship.

I hope you all remember that too.

 

“There is a way of being wrong which is also sometimes necessarily right.”

Edward Abbey

 

*This post was proofread by Grammarly

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