Why Being “Right” May Be Wrong: Managing Conflict Through Perspective-Taking

Last updated on 9/3/2020


No matter how “right” you may think you are, there is usually more than one way to view a situation. Each person has a perspective that may be valid in some respect. A key to managing interpersonal conflict is accepting that your way of seeing things is only one possibility. Our perspectives are not always factual. They arise from opinions, which develop from personal experiences.

Being unwilling to consider other points of view puts you at a disadvantage. Why? Because “black and white” thinking robs you of the ability to see the shades of gray. Rigid thinking does not consider the complexity of most people and situations. The truth is that “truths” are not always the same for all people. Insisting there is only one “right” way often leads to unresolved disagreements, leaving at least one person feeling invalidated.

From a sociocultural point of view, we should expect people from diverse backgrounds and cultures to differ in their ideas and beliefs because of their upbringing and experiences. Perspective-taking (i.e., the ability to view a situation from an alternate point-of-view) has been shown to improve social interactions and relations.

So, the next time you find yourself in a disagreement, pause and remind yourself to be flexible. Consider other perspectives. You may find that experiences differing from your own can prompt you to analyze your own experiences and help you derive new meanings from them.

*Image: aquaswim

Published by A. Irvin

Dr. Angela Irvin is a clinical psychologist and mental health educator. Her clinical specialties include forensics, trauma, and personality-related issues. She is also an expert on cultural facets of mental health relating to race, gender, and class. As a mental health educator and writer, she emphasizes research-based information that promotes holistic wellness.