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Better to be Kind or Better to be Right?




Earlier this week I heard someone say that it is better to be kind than right and it keeps rattling around in my brain.  In the business world, being right is extremely important and often necessary for survival.  The market is hard on businesses that get it wrong too often.  From an early age, we are taught to do what’s right so it is natural for us to want to “be” right.  The mental feeling of being right is justification for our ideas as well as our position on whatever topic or issue at hand.

Being right however can bring consequences that are undesired and unintended.  If being right means someone else is wrong, our brain makes decisions to support this belief.  My mind makes me want to convince the other person that they are indeed wrong.  I become blinded by my own perspective and I can no longer see another.  I begin to arrange my thoughts and eventually words to support my position.  At this point, how effective am I at understanding another person’s point of view?

Being wrong or right is an opinion of reality rather than reality itself.  It is all in our brain.  Is it right for a mother bird to let one baby starve so that two others might survive? Is it right for a parent to donate all their belongings to charity instead of leaving it for a child’s inheritance? What’s right?

Being right and doing right can align with being kind, however when the concepts diverge, we have a decision to make.  We are at a mental tipping point and we rationalize not being kind as acceptable behavior.  It can sound like “I was just doing my job” or “It was the right thing to do”. 

Many people confuse kindness with weakness.  True strength comes from not having to be right.  Others consider being wrong as an indication of our ignorance.  Both of these are rooted in human insecurity.  Join me in getting over this human frailty.  In most cases being right or wrong is irrelevant when it comes to being kind.  When making difficult decisions, we can always choose kindness.