• Are you just that bit smarter than most others around you? And can’t resist correcting people when you are sure they are wrong about something?
  • Or do you see red if someone tells you you are wrong about something, and find yourself arguing even if you don’t know what you are talking about? Why do we need to be right, and what is the cost we end up paying?

The different kinds of ‘being right’

There is nothing wrong with a bit of healthy debating. And if we happen to have useful information that can benefit others, why wouldn’t we share it?

So there is being right by default, where our intention is to help others out.

And there is being right by debate. Where our intention is to show we are smarter and to ‘win’.

Not sure if you are the needing to be right type?

Has a partner or friend accused you of needing to be right, but you just can't see it?

Notice if you:

  • interrupt others, or talk over them
  • always try to get the last word
  • often say ‘yes, but’
  • or say the phrase ‘you are wrong’ all the time
  • stop others from doing things as you are sure you can do it better.

But why wouldn’t I always share my opinion?

When we are confident and good at relationships, we recognise that if people want another perspective, they ask. And most information is a perspective. Even science tends to be added to, or cancelled out by new research.

So we listen to what others have to say, and share what we think if it’s clear the other person is interested, or asks for our opinion.

When we lose that natural reflection, and no longer notice if people want our opinion? But are always just barging in with it anyway? There tends to be a psychological reason behind it.

Why is it a big deal if I like to win?

When we like to be right, we can have a tendency to turn everything into an argument, no matter how polite that argument is.

And when we approach everything as a conflict, we tend to:

Why do I always need to be right?

If your childhood contained difficult experiences that left you feeling worthless, proving you are right can be your unconscious way to try to ‘earn’ value.

And if you also learned as a child that being wrong was dangerous, being right can be self-protection. For example, if you were punished for not doing well on school tests, or physically abused for any tiny thing you did that a parent didn’t like? Your brain would mistake someone having a different take on things as a personal attack.

A study at the University of Southern California used neural imaging on people with strong political beliefs who refused to be swayed by facts. The brain scans showed they were registering an attack on political beliefs as an attack on their personal selves.

Being right and the autism spectrum

Sometimes a need to be right can come from the way your brain is designed. 'Autism spectrum disorder' can mean your brain doesn't naturally read social cues, and that you might see things in a more black and white manner than others do. You might also be very passionate about a certain subject.

This can mean you overshare information and correct others when you perceive them as 'wrong', according to your worldview. It can be really hard for you to understand they see things in a less cut and dried fashion.

How do I stop needing to be right?

It’s about being open to other people’s perspectives, and about learning better relating skills.

Because relating is just that - a skill. Even if we were not taught how to relate well to others growing up, or it doesn’t come naturally to us because we are autistic, it can be studied and learned.

A therapist can help you recognise what is going wrong in your communicating. You can learn and practice better ways of behaving around others that raise your confidence and leave you less lonely.

Time to stop feeling rejected and start feeling connected? Use our easy booking tool now to find a therapist that can help.

Need an Appointment ASAP?

Here's who's next available...

See other available therapists ›
Are you a therapist?
Apply to be on the platform  ›