So I got into a somewhat heated discussion with a friend recently. No, it wasn’t about politics, or religion, or anything controversial for that matter. My friend and I work in the same field and we were having a very technical discussion about a specific technology. I won’t bore you with the details, but I do want to share this experience because it was a clear reminder to me of one of the more difficult things that I often struggle with as an adult – swallowing my pride.
Half way through the conversation we reached a disagreement on a very specific detail. And since this was not something that we could just Google to determine who was right and who was wrong, we instead went on for about 10 minutes arguing both sides. You see, the interesting thing here is that I was absolutely, without any doubt, convinced that I knew what I was talking about. I have a lot of experience with the topic we were discussing and have had hands on experience with a number of issues specifically around the area in question. At that very moment I refused to believe that I could possibly be wrong.
So I was dead wrong. Completely 100% wrong. You can imagine my surprise when I received a text message the next morning from my friend pointing out that what he said the night before was indeed correct. I jumped out of bed, turned on my PC, and confirmed the bad news. At first, I was in disbelief, but more than that I was disappointed, and to be honest, a bit upset! At one moment I even thought about how I could “fake” my argument, perhaps make it look like I was mistakenly talking about something different, and we weren’t actually discussing the same thing. Seriously, Jon? Have I really sunk that low? Fortunately, after about ten minutes, I cooled off. I responded, admitting my error, and thanking him for affirming the details in question.
Afterwards, I thought a lot about the whole interaction. What on God’s Earth made it so insanely difficult for me to just accept that perhaps my understanding of this technology is anything but perfect? In my industry, there is a lot of room for error. So many technical details, it is only a matter time before I get something wrong, despite how confident or comfortable I may feel about something. And usually when this happens, I suck it up, deal with the facts at hand, and gracefully move on knowing I have gained something new from a valuable experience. But this time around, I couldn’t do that, at least not right away. I just had to hold on so tightly to what I thought I knew – I was emotional. Not that letting my emotions support my thoughts and opinions in a conversation is a bad thing, but in this specific situation, my emotions had gotten out of check, and ultimately resulted in 10 minutes of unnecessary debate and potentially some unintended hostility toward a friend.
Letting go of my pride has always been a challenge for me. While I do feel that I have gotten better at doing so (especially in my professional career), this situation was a reminder to me that there is always room for improvement. It’s not often easy to do, especially depending on the situation and the people involved, but there has never been a time that I didn’t feel satisfied and proud of myself afterward. At the end of the day, it takes a lot of courage to fess up and be the bigger person, but I have found that doing so makes me stronger, and ultimately happier.