Character, preferences, and interests are all things that distinguish one person from another, and there are no two persons anywhere in the world who are exactly alike in this regard. But according to common wisdom, everyone can be classified into multiple categories, including pleasant and disagreeable. Those that fall into this category are the ones who are certain that their opinion is the only right one and that everyone else is either envious or just does not have sufficient intelligence or experience to see the brilliance and logic of the conclusions.
Conducting business with such individuals is challenging because they automatically assume that other people are less intelligent than they are. As a result, any of your arguments, even those supported by some of the most brilliant minds in the world, are subject to scrutiny. In everyday life, you will, nonetheless, come into contact with individuals who are convinced that they are in the right 100% of the time. If you want to make this interaction less uncomfortable, there are a few rules of conduct that you can follow that will help you either ignore it or change the way you feel about the person in question.
Why a person thinks he or she is always right
Before we can go on to the standards of conduct, we need to figure out why people generally believe they are right all the time and refuse to consider any perspective other than their own. There are a few explanations for this.
1. Lack of self-confidence
Although it may appear to be contradictory, given that this kind of person exudes the utmost assurance and seems impenetrable, the statement is, in fact, accurate. When a person is dissatisfied with themselves and has a low sense of self-esteem, they often try to make up for it by showing that they are superior to people around them in terms of their knowledge and abilities. By the way, the arrogant children in schools who supposedly knew everything and who were constantly reaching out in class to answer all of the teacher’s questions frequently just had low self-esteem and tried to prove to everyone that they were so much better than others to compensate for their lack of confidence.
This might result in the individual developing an inflated sense of ego, and they may start to assume that their viewpoint is the only valid one.
2. The need to control
The fact is that no matter how collected we may seem to ourselves, there is chaos in anyone’s life. If there is a lot of this chaos, people start clinging to what they think they can control and where outside forces cannot intervene. This, as a rule, becomes their own opinion. One becomes fixated on one’s opinion, seeing it as an island of stability in a fickle world, gradually leading to a sense of false superiority. As in the previous case, people who rely fanatically on their opinions begin to believe they are right, giving them a sense of satisfaction.
3. Growing up in a certain environment where the value placed on one’s opinion was disproportionately high
We are not saying that valuing a child’s opinion and encouraging it is bad and always leads to the formation of a “hothouse” personality, just that everything must have a measure. So, for example, if parents always told the child that he was right, even if it is not true, he, growing up, will think that this is pure truth because it makes no sense to parents to lie. Even in adulthood, this model of thinking is difficult to break, and sometimes, even getting into situations that confirm its wrongness, the person does not revise its model.
Moreover, this can lead to a paradoxical strengthening of belief in one’s point of view, as, for example, happens with supporters of conspiracy theories, when arguments with a proof base are only more proof of their correctness.
4. Dividing the world into black and white
One of the most common reasons a person believes his perspective cannot be changed is because of the worldview he holds. He thinks the universe only exists in two colors, black and white, and that all thoughts and deeds are either right or evil. Naturally, the viewpoint of such a person will always be considered to be on the “light” side, and those who disagree with it will be automatically connected with “dark” forces interested in converting him to their cause.
However, as one learns through experience, the world does not just consist of black and white categories. Instead, there are countless gradations of grey, such that an activity that, in one person’s eyes, is completely virtuous may be tainted with evil in the eyes of another. This type of thinking stops us from understanding the perspectives of others, as well as from perceiving the nuances of grey.
Now that we have discovered the reasons for this way of thinking, we can move on to how you communicate with someone who thinks they are always right at least in terms of theoretical and practical knowledge and skills.
8 ways to communicate with someone who thinks they are always right
1. Don’t argue with him
Truth is born in debate. This phrase is as old as the world and works with most people, except those who are convinced that they are right in their opinions and that knowledge is unshakable. When you argue with someone who thinks he is always right, you won’t change his mind; you’ll get frustrated and waste a lot of time, energy and nerves on useless activity. Moreover, it can lead to a quarrel or even a fight because such people often perceive criticism of their point of view as an outright insult because of egocentrism.
So instead of arguing with such a person, you need to shift the communication vector, asking questions that will help demonstrate your point of view. If you are a good psychologist, there is an even more effective method – to make the interlocutor think that it was his idea, that it was he who made such a logical conclusion. In this case, he may begin to believe the idea that has just occurred to him, replace his old knowledge with it, and then pass it off as his own merit.
So, for example, you can agree with the interlocutor’s point of view but instil doubt in him with a phrase like “in general, I agree but have you thought about how it affects this or that moment” and things like that. This will help to lead the person down a path of reflection and find the flaws in their opinion. Or, for example, also agree and then offer your own opinion as an alternative. In this case, you are not arguing but simply expressing your thoughts while accepting the interlocutor’s point of view, which is less likely to cause an aggressive backlash from him.
Your task is to show the person who thinks he is always right that there are other views on this or that point. His opinion is certainly important and even a priority, but it is not the only one. You can, at least for the sake of a mental experiment, think about other options.
In conclusion, let’s say that you don’t have to agree with everything such people say so as not to feed their already huge egos. You have to agree and deny in doses so that you don’t hurt the person’s ego.
2. Don’t try to get into a power struggle
The problem with talking and arguing with a man who thinks he is always right is bending the discussion to a power struggle. He senses every argument you make as an attempt not just to shake his belief in his thoughts but as an attack on his authority. You immediately enter into a game where each of your opponents needs to emerge victorious, even if you do not realize it. This only exacerbates the situation and does no good.
Instead of accepting the rules of the game, step back and focus on what exactly you want to get out of the conversation. After thinking about it for a second, you’ll realize that it’s more important to find a solution than to be right. Try to detach yourself from the evolutionary race of authority that’s built into us, and focus your efforts on finding a compromise. Of course, we’re talking about cases where it really needs to be done, such as when you’re dealing with your boss or with someone you benefit. For those who are not worth the time spent, there is no point in wasting effort by taking them to a compromise.
The main thing is to keep calm such that it does not look like an attack, and at the same time, it is visible to the interlocutor. Do not allow him to drag you into an argument; give in to him where you see fit to bring the conversation to a logical solution.
3. Don’t take it personally
When you hear criticism about yourself during a conversation with someone who thinks he’s always right, it’s easy to take it personally. And this is understandable because we primarily associate what is said with ourselves and cannot adequately assess the behaviour of some people with others. As a result, it seems that it is with you that this person disagrees and disputes your point of view. At times like this, it is important to remember that this behaviour is not just about you but everyone around you.
It may seem like the person is attacking you or wants to humiliate you, but more often than not, they are just trying to be heard and believe their opinion is the only truth. A person whose only opinion matters may not even realize how his behaviour affects those around him. For him, there is nothing wrong with putting the other person in his place because, in this way, he takes on the role of a mentor, dispelling the darkness of illiteracy. At such moments, he sincerely believes that he brings the light of knowledge and is the only one capable of delivering the right message, simply because that is how he sees the world.
4. Be calm and respectful
One part of narcissism is often a person’s confidence that they are always right. And such people tend to piss others off for their own pleasure and self-gratification. We understand that it is difficult to remain calm and respectful when dealing with someone unpleasant. Nevertheless, it pays to control your emotions and thoughts so that you don’t stoop to the level of your interlocutor, but also don’t let them get on your nerves.
If you remain calm, the interlocutor, fixated on his ego, may begin to doubt his strength and retreat because he sees no emotional response, powerlessness, or admiration; therefore, for him further, conversation or argument is meaningless. In general, calmness and respect are the secret weapons that will help you to communicate not only with such people but with everyone in general.
5. Set boundaries
Often people are hurt by speakers who think they are always right because they allow them too much. They will ignore your opinions and needs unless they find a limit. This constraint will establish a healthy distance, which will help interact as adequately as possible.
If someone criticizes you, you can state that you would be happy if the person you are talking to refrained from criticizing you on certain issues because everyone has their own opinion. Of course, this will not stop inadequate people, but if the ego has not yet completely overshadowed the voice of reason, the person will accept these game rules.
However, simply setting boundaries is not enough; you must constantly demonstrate their importance so that the person does not forget about this distance, especially when he begins crossing the line. Be firm in your decisions, but, at the same time, communicate your thoughts respectfully. Explain to the person that you are willing to listen to their opinion but don’t have to agree with everything. If he belittles your point of view in favour of his, make it clear that you are not comfortable having this conversation. The main thing is to clarify that you won’t silently put up with attempts to crush you with knowledge or authority.
6. Keep your conversations short
The longer you communicate with a person who is sure of his unshakable rightness, the more likely you are to get sucked into an argument. Therefore, to avoid a negative outcome, it is worth reducing conversations with people like this to short speeches with the most neutral tone.
It is best to think through the conversation in advance to understand what exactly needs to be said and stick to a certain script. If the person tries to lead you into a discussion that could turn into an argument, bring the communication back to square one.
7. Do not use references to his personality
One of the biggest mistakes when dealing with a person who is sure of his rightness is to refer to his person. Such references are perceived purely as unwarranted criticism and sometimes even as a personal insult.
So, for example, the phrase “your thoughts are too confused” will be perceived as unwarranted criticism, while “I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying” is much milder. Try to use the pronoun “I” rather than “you” when talking to people who are so difficult to talk to so that there is less subconscious aggression from your interlocutor. Yes, it’s not easy to pretend to be ignorant or even stupid, but it will help to have a conversation without the interlocutor overly demonstrating his ego.
8. Analyze the appropriateness of the conversation
You need to do this all the time, not just with people who are sure they are absolutely right. Still, they are the ones you need to be on your guard and think about the expediency of the conversation. Remember that a person who thinks he is always right, do not miss the moment to show your wrongness, and you will have to tolerate his supposedly wise thoughts.
Because nature has built the urge to compete, we feel the urge to engage in a dialogue or argument with such a person whenever he speaks out. But stop for a moment and think, is it worth it? Some conversations are not worth your attention, energy, and nerves, so you need to learn to understand when you should engage in a “battle” and when it is better to step back.
Regularly defending your point of view, you will not only get tired of futile attempts to prove your point, but you can come to a nervous breakdown and other problems, not making much progress, because a person confident in his rightness will not give up even under the pressure of uncontested arguments.