“The Detroit Lions are the worst team in football!”
“Wait.” “What did you say?”
“The Detroit Lions are the worst team in football.” “They have never won a championship.”
“Get out of here man.”
As I continued to try and make my case for the Lions not being the worst team in football against Jack and Aiden, I could feel myself getting a little heated.
What is funny about this conversation is that I’m not even that huge of a football fan. I’ll watch a game here and there, but my Sundays don’t revolve around football. The reason why the conversation come-up is because Jack and Aiden know I am a Lions fan since that is where I was born.
So, what was going on here? Why was I defending my position like an offensive line protecting their quarterback?
Externally I could see the boys getting a little upset with me and shutting down.
Internally I was planning my next argument and solidifying my position as the Detroit Lions not being the worst team in football.
Here is what was going on…I WANTED TO BE RIGHT!
I wanted to be so right that I would ignore my boys wanting to engage me in a fun conversation about something they found interesting and entertaining.
Isn’t that what we wish for as Dads? Our children engaging us in conversations and sharing what they know.
Why did I want to be right?
And in this case why was being right more important than having a fun conversation about football with my boys.
The reason why is because being right is an addiction. When we are right about something, it gives us a rush of adrenaline and dopamine. It makes us feel happy and upbeat. It is the rush we love, and we continuously have to be right so we can continue getting that rush. So, we can continue to feel happy and upbeat.
We don’t want not to be right, so we continue with making the case we are right whether we are right or not. Whether we are crushing two young boys’ willingness to start up a conversation.
The other thing I will share here is that the need for “being right” is found in the same area of the brain as fear, power, and uncertainty which all create distrust.
The crazy thing is that I did a little research on the history of the Lions and and found they own the worst seasons in NFL history. Also, found one site that rated all the NFL teams, guess what, the Lions were ranked the second worst team in NFL history.
Whoops! Throw the yellow flag (penalty) on dad for the excessive need to be right!
In moving myself forward and learning from my mistake. I came up with the following reminders or tips.
1. Ask questions
2. Listen to connect
3. Not everyone thinks like me
4. I Don’t know everything
5. Acknowledge perspective and knowledge
6. Search for a solution/answer together
The key here is being open to the other person and their thoughts, opinions, and perspective. We may not always agree or think they are right. We can recognize our emotions and choose to act in a way that promotes a positive relationship. For when we are transparent, build relationships, seek to understand, share success and tell the truth are brain releases oxycotin which all create trust.
Through this experience and with the tips, I have been able to recognize my triggers.
Luckily, all four boys gave me another chance, as the other day the dropped some more knowledge on me about the new Skylanders video game. Instead of trying to take over the conversation with my understanding of the game (Yes! I stay up to date on video games. Great way to connect.), I let the boys tell me about the game and its characters. It was a way better conversation as compared to the one about the Lions. We were all engaged, excited, and sharing!
Lesson Learned: Being right and not being open to other’s possibilities, perspectives, and knowledge is not worth the overall impact it can have on a relationship.
Action: How is “being right” affecting your relationships with your children? What can you do to let go of the need to be right?
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Donnie Boroff, M.A., CPC, ELI-MP, C-IQ is a father of four boys and husband with a passion for dads. A Dad Coach and founder of Everdad. With a Master’s Degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology along with being a Certified Professional Coach, Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner, and Certified in Conversational Intelligence, he assists dads in exploring and discovering how they are showing up in their children’s lives.