A friend was telling me about her “life adventures” of the last month. Her husband’s heart surgery went very well. Her challenge? Trying to encourage him to do the after-surgery therapy. And then, one day, she realized the secret to success. She said, “I gave up the need to have ‘the last word’.”
That simple sentence hit me like a ton of bricks. How many times had I pushed on someone – determined to have that “last word”. Or how many times did I need to “prove I was right”? Ouch. Yep. Been there, done that!
In fact, I laughed when I saw this plaque in the Hallmark store: “Let’s assume I’m right. It will save time.” That was so “me”! I was right and I would keep pushing until you agreed or gave up. Well, yes. Embarrassing to admit. But that’s what I did.
Luckily, I came across a powerful insight: “Why not be kind, rather than be right?”
Did it really matter who was “right” in our relationship? Was I focusing on a minor detail? And missing the big picture? Determined to have that “last word”?
Here’s my favorite example:
You’re walking out to your car, and notice your spouse’s right front tire is low. You mention it. Response, “I’ll get air in it today.” Next day, you walk out, and the tire is low. You mention it. Response: “I’ll do it today.” Third day, tire is still low, but you’ve mentioned it twice, so you keep your mouth shut.
That afternoon, you get a call. Very flat tire. “Would you bring me your Fix-A-Flat so I can make it to the tire store?”
You arrive with the Fix-A-Flat. At this point, you have two choices. You can be kind. Or you can be right, and have the last word.
This is what “being right” sounds like:
In your most exasperated tone of voice: “Okay. Here it is! I would Not have had to do this if you would have just Listened to me and Put Air In Your Tire WHEN I TOLD YOU TO!” (While mentally saying, “I’ve had the last word! Ha, ha, ha! Scored on you!”)
And, ladies and gentlemen, if you let that nonsense roll in your head and come out of your mouth, what kind of evening will you have?
I call it “Enjoy Sleeping on the Couch.”
On the other hand, you could be kind, and dump that need for the last word. They know they messed up. So in your most matter-of-fact, no big deal voice, you say, “Here you go.” You hear their embarrassed, mumbled thank you. You respond, “It’s no big deal. You would have done the same thing for me. If you don’t need anything else, I’ll head home and start dinner.”
Now what kind of an evening will you probably have? Much more likely to have an evening of, well, let’s call it “wedded bliss”.
As we move into summer, we dump the need for heavy clothes. So why not dump that need for the last word, too?
Our summer will be a lot more fun!