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The Last Word

Posted By: Randy GageApril 29, 2011

For years I prided myself on the ability to win any argument.  I always got the last word and always smothered the other party with blanket evidence I was right.   Took a long time to learn that by controlling my tongue, I gained possession of my mind.

When you gain wisdom you lose the desire to always be right.  In fact, you sometimes celebrate being proven wrong, because that is where the learning breakthroughs are.

It takes real self-control to avoid gossip, idle words, and self-defense.  But that is when you move from being right to actually becoming wise.

So how you doing on that?

-RG

34 comments on “The Last Word”

  1. This is such an awesome topic. I have struggled with this issue much in my life.
    See, I am a philosopher. For a long time I embraced the way of the "dialectician", which is a philosophical position that holds that greater knowledge is reached through debate. The idea behind it is that when you debate, you either win by proving your point, or lose by being proved wrong, in which case you learned something.
    Rarely is that how a debate turns out. Most of the time it is an argument, and noone really learns anything.
    When I became fascinated with increasing the power of my brain, I learned an interesting fact. It turns out that NOT arguing or debating helps MAKE YOU SMARTER.
    Part of being intelligent is your ability to be open to new concepts. When you argue a point, you solidify your belief in that point, making it harder to accept ideas to the contrary. Furthermore, you attach emotion to the topic, and often attach your ego to it as well. This makes it practically impossible for you to adopt new beliefs on the subject.

    As far as avoiding gossip and idle-words....I think that just takes practice. 🙂

  2. Randy,

    Yes. Being 'right' is vastly overrated. My life is much better (easier, more harmonious, even more interesting) now that I no longer feel the need to be right.

    Thanks,

    Bob

  3. I learned quite a few years ago that being 'right' doesn't serve me, nor does it now. As a result, I've honed an important area called the Art of Listening. I'm also tuned into one of the more important "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" namely "Seek FIRST to understand.. THEN to be understood".

    If a person is someone that needs to be right, they cannot maintain this habit since THEY are the one who must be understood before others get to speak. I also find that the Art of Listening is incredibly important if we wish to grow.

    Too often when in a conversation, most of us (and even myself at times), are too busy formulating a response while someone is speaking, rather than truly listening.

    If we STOP and BE with the other person's thoughts, we gain a MUCH better sense of Who They Are. And this is the beauty of communication. We get to really understand someone, which brings us closer..

  4. Randy,
    This is such a strong post and not many words. Interesting given the topic about being right. This was a biggie for me. I still catch myself. My mother's whole life has been about being right. Her truth's is everyones. Hey it's not by accident that I have learned this defect of character.
    Recently, I have been taking acting lessons. I am there to learn. When we perform our scenes the coach will correct us. Stop us and say you are not doing this and then we take her direction. Not always, some of the students are hell bent on explaining and being right. It is clear that it impedes the learning as the thinking has stopped the ability to let someone else be right.
    I think this is our ego at work. I am grateful that in this class I have put that need away.
    Thanks,
    Jim

  5. Golly, I must be really really Wise, because I've never tried to prove myself right. I never argue. Very few people know my opinion about anything. I "know" that nobody wants to listen to me....

    In a world of talkers, I've always been the silent one, the listener, the one who asks questions...
    and you know what? This doesn't work, either. It does no one any good.

    I trust that you talkers, you arguers, you debaters, you out-spoken, over-spoken folks will grasp this:

    You see - I can write my truth; but to speak it? that's...scary. "They," I tell myself, "don't want to listen to ME. They are only interested in hearing their own voices, not mine."

    My wish is that the "talking people" in my life would stop and ask me questions, express an interest in me. That would be such a Huge blessing!

    So this is a Great Big Thank You to you, Randy, for reminding the talkers to listen.

    At the same time, I take responsibility for being as I am; and my "communications project" is to bring myself to speak out more, to fearlessly state my opinions, to enter into discussion instead of just listening. I want to develop the ability to speak my truth, fearlessly, in confidence that my opinions and ideas are as important as yours - to both of us.

  6. I love knowledge and I love people and I want people to be healthy, happy and in the right place (even if it kills em :). I always think others want to know what I know.I "heard" something the other day from several different people, several different ocaisions that really hit me. A friend "jokingly" asked one of my friends if they could get a word in when I'm around. Someone else said," oh that lady that talks too much?" You're timing is perfect, as always. It's time for a change. I want to be taken seriously but not avoided. I don't have to be right or even heard sometimes. It's ok to be quite and know that I know.

  7. Interesting being a comedian and speaker myself sometimes I gotta crush folk with humor!!! And the truth sometimes sets folk free. Now when I have a violent heckler or strong verbal opponent who has good info I will surrender and make them my friend. A few times I have had to stop some folk in there tracks with truth cause ignorance sometimes just can't run rampant.

  8. Hi Randy,

    Right with you on this - I found out quite a while ago that my need to be right was my un-doing, it mean`t that I couldn`t actually learn anything because I was so attached to being `right` that it closed me off to new knowledge. I wasn`t able to listen either because I was so intent on my `rightness`, which I had seen as a `truth`,that I didn`t see that I was living in the darkness of
    ignorance.
    I was a student of philosophy where you win a debate by proving your point, but as Anthony mentioned a debate could often be translated as `argument`. But I was always a questioner so I did realise I was not learning anything except how to get `better` at arguing.
    A whole new world opened up once I could say to myself, `I don`t actually know` and began to question my assumptions. Scary place to be in as what I had built my world on began to fall apart,bwhich it needed to as I was ready to begin `growing up`, or I could say waking up from my delusions and false illusions.

  9. Really have to thank you Randy for your mentoring. Can't quite remember when it was, but sometime ago, I was in a conversation with someone and I realised the discussion was moving into the direction of "justification" and it hit me. That "defining moment". When you realise the person you are talking to is just on a whole other wave length. You realise you actually have moved to a different level of consciousness. And the only person who really knows or needs to know the difference, is yourself.

  10. It is sometimes important for yourself to be right about something.You could have been treated in a way and want your justice, only for yourself.To be able to release it,simply.I struggled a lot with a person for many years who, still today,gives me the feeling she doesn´t wish me any luck.My questions cannot go away about this person;Why did I learn to know her.Why is she in a position I cannot just let go.Why is she always poisoning my soul,my mind,my life, and why do I let her?I always have a feeling I have no choice.Last time we met she said Why is it so important to you to be right?Still I don´t see it in that way.She just say that to provoke me,because she can read my mind and knows what affects me.But it is true, though.As if I were in an invisible courtroom,where I must be right.I dreamt about her and all other people close to us,where I said something to her and her reaction revealed that she was bad and had always been bad to me.Which actually never happens in the reality.She puts everything and everybody against me in a way impossible to get out of.And she never recognize it as wrong,letting me go with that empty feeling of sorrow and betrayal.I do not have much contact with her today even if she is close family,but I have forgiven her.After that I had that dream and maybe that was my releasing,because I was "right".

      1. Fun.And it is exactly what does not work,but i have given up.But what did that have to do with letting go of negative people anyway?It was more like Let them stay and be happy!

  11. i was thinking about this the other day when someone asked me for the reason why I went to India to an ashram and decided to take the teachings of Babaji as my new spiritual path.

    I was sharing my story with her because i though she was truly interested in my experience was.

    Turns out every single thing I shared with her was rebutted with quotes from the bible and diminishing the value of my experience. She needed to be right about her faith and felt the need to defend it (although I wasn't sharing to enroll her into my ideas but just simply sharing.)

    She is just a mirror of what I don't like about myself... and I realize how many times I just want to be right and don't really care about what the other person is saying or respecting their feelings.

    So I am giving up the need to be right and I am willing to see things differently.

    Thanks for your post!

    Love,

    Gabs

  12. Hi Randy,

    I am doing well in this department.

    I rarely if ever engage in negative talk because I release the need to be right, or more importantly, the need to defend or prove myself. State your viewpoint and exit stage left.

    When I debate I keep it short and sweet; why not release and network with millions of others who share your viewpoint?

    Thanks for sharing!

    RB

  13. Randy, thank you, and I read the previous post with great interest (ignoring all the flapdoodle w/Annie). My comments might have been more appropriate as part of that conversation. However, here we are…

    [If there are other “non-talkies” following this blog, I trust you will add your two-cents worth; believe me, your input is Important! Perhaps my thoughts on this dysfunction of our will help you; I know your thoughts could help me!]

    We've discussed this in my Master Mind group. I find it challenging to grasp why/how it is SO easy for “talkies” to talk (what are you thinking, that allows you to dominate the conversation???) The Talkies admit that my non-talking habit is equally mysterious. Let me elucidate the mystery: Yes, fear of offending might be part of it – but for me, it is also deeply about others being not-interested.

    I don’t have to get over “fear of offending.” I have to get over my belief that “people just aren’t interested.”
    Perhaps the point of my comments, as part of this Post about “talking too much/being right” is to add an emphasis about why it is so important for you Talkies to curb your tongues a little. Here’s what a non-talker is thinking, while you are going on and on and on and on…:
    “When will it be my turn? I wish s/he’d shut up, and/or maybe even ask me for my opinion. This person is a conversation hog. I’m not going to listen to him or her anymore…. I’m tuning out….etc.”
    You think I’m listening, but what I’m actually hearing is similar to the old Charlie Brown “adult talk”: blat-blat-blat….
    In short, here’s my appropriate comment for this Post: Right On, Randy!

  14. I read salon.com this morning.. and there was an article about the birthers and a guy who has done two years research on how the 9/11 conspirators have to believe in something... the guy said it's like a cult, their whole identity is wrapped up in it.. so when you challenge it, they flip out.. or you can disprove 99 out of 100 things. but they seize on the one that you can't and it's aha!!!
    Whoever said, "don't ever argue about religion, politics or sex was a very wise person...

  15. "When you gain wisdom you lose the desire to always be right". True words Randy, and I think I'm closing in on living that congruently. My biggest issue is that there are certain people close to me that push the right buttons and with them, yes, I do have to be right. Maybe it's because I know they throw out a lot of bs. I'm learning though that the best thing to do is ignore the bs, and also move past the need to be right with them.

  16. I know my stance before I even engage in a debate. I believe, as you mentioned, that the strongest aspect to having the "last word" is to listen completely to the opposing side...regardless of the outcome, I have found that a differing opinion or idea presents at least one aspect that I had not considered. I have learned more from my peers by relenting my "win" and listening to another side of the equation. Losing, though learning, is quite cathartic.

  17. Good place to share what my dear grandmother wrote in my autograph book as a child:

    An aged owl sat on the oak
    The more he saw the less he spoke
    The less he spoke the more he heard
    I wish more folk were like this bird

  18. We learn when we listen. I have a friend who is "always right". I don't even bother arguing/debating/discussing things with him anymore.

  19. Have you noticed that God gave us two ears that can't be closed and a mouth that can be closed?! "A closed mouth gathers no foot."

  20. Most of the time there is even no right or wrong. When acknowledge and accept another person's opinion, then wisdom kicks in. Be warned, you might even learn something, because you will be able to see things from a different angle, or in other words you'd be able to put yourself in another person's shoes.

    It was a long way for me to learn this being a single child.

    Thanks again Randy, great post as usual!

  21. Great question Randy. Oh always having the last word or as my partner calls it having to win is something i am improving on. This comes with higher self worth I believe
    Love your short inspiration posts
    Namaste
    Suzie

  22. Great point. Want to share a personal experience about. A few months after I married (my 3rd experience at that!) we were having dinner with a couple, very good friends of ours. They have been married for over two decades. So I asked, what's the secret? My friend Jose Elias said, "See Jose, in your marriage you have to take a decision. You can be happy or you can be right. You can't have both. Which would you take?" ... LOL ... Yes, I laughed. But he had a great point. After my 2 previous divorces and several failed relationships, I decided to hear him. I decided TO BE HAPPY!! With my wife, we are celebrating our 3rd year anniversary this month and will celebrate many more to come!! Thanks Jose Elias!! 🙂

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  • 34 comments on “The Last Word”

    1. This is such an awesome topic. I have struggled with this issue much in my life.
      See, I am a philosopher. For a long time I embraced the way of the "dialectician", which is a philosophical position that holds that greater knowledge is reached through debate. The idea behind it is that when you debate, you either win by proving your point, or lose by being proved wrong, in which case you learned something.
      Rarely is that how a debate turns out. Most of the time it is an argument, and noone really learns anything.
      When I became fascinated with increasing the power of my brain, I learned an interesting fact. It turns out that NOT arguing or debating helps MAKE YOU SMARTER.
      Part of being intelligent is your ability to be open to new concepts. When you argue a point, you solidify your belief in that point, making it harder to accept ideas to the contrary. Furthermore, you attach emotion to the topic, and often attach your ego to it as well. This makes it practically impossible for you to adopt new beliefs on the subject.

      As far as avoiding gossip and idle-words....I think that just takes practice. 🙂

    2. Randy,

      Yes. Being 'right' is vastly overrated. My life is much better (easier, more harmonious, even more interesting) now that I no longer feel the need to be right.

      Thanks,

      Bob

    3. I learned quite a few years ago that being 'right' doesn't serve me, nor does it now. As a result, I've honed an important area called the Art of Listening. I'm also tuned into one of the more important "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" namely "Seek FIRST to understand.. THEN to be understood".

      If a person is someone that needs to be right, they cannot maintain this habit since THEY are the one who must be understood before others get to speak. I also find that the Art of Listening is incredibly important if we wish to grow.

      Too often when in a conversation, most of us (and even myself at times), are too busy formulating a response while someone is speaking, rather than truly listening.

      If we STOP and BE with the other person's thoughts, we gain a MUCH better sense of Who They Are. And this is the beauty of communication. We get to really understand someone, which brings us closer..

    4. Randy,
      This is such a strong post and not many words. Interesting given the topic about being right. This was a biggie for me. I still catch myself. My mother's whole life has been about being right. Her truth's is everyones. Hey it's not by accident that I have learned this defect of character.
      Recently, I have been taking acting lessons. I am there to learn. When we perform our scenes the coach will correct us. Stop us and say you are not doing this and then we take her direction. Not always, some of the students are hell bent on explaining and being right. It is clear that it impedes the learning as the thinking has stopped the ability to let someone else be right.
      I think this is our ego at work. I am grateful that in this class I have put that need away.
      Thanks,
      Jim

    5. Golly, I must be really really Wise, because I've never tried to prove myself right. I never argue. Very few people know my opinion about anything. I "know" that nobody wants to listen to me....

      In a world of talkers, I've always been the silent one, the listener, the one who asks questions...
      and you know what? This doesn't work, either. It does no one any good.

      I trust that you talkers, you arguers, you debaters, you out-spoken, over-spoken folks will grasp this:

      You see - I can write my truth; but to speak it? that's...scary. "They," I tell myself, "don't want to listen to ME. They are only interested in hearing their own voices, not mine."

      My wish is that the "talking people" in my life would stop and ask me questions, express an interest in me. That would be such a Huge blessing!

      So this is a Great Big Thank You to you, Randy, for reminding the talkers to listen.

      At the same time, I take responsibility for being as I am; and my "communications project" is to bring myself to speak out more, to fearlessly state my opinions, to enter into discussion instead of just listening. I want to develop the ability to speak my truth, fearlessly, in confidence that my opinions and ideas are as important as yours - to both of us.

    6. I love knowledge and I love people and I want people to be healthy, happy and in the right place (even if it kills em :). I always think others want to know what I know.I "heard" something the other day from several different people, several different ocaisions that really hit me. A friend "jokingly" asked one of my friends if they could get a word in when I'm around. Someone else said," oh that lady that talks too much?" You're timing is perfect, as always. It's time for a change. I want to be taken seriously but not avoided. I don't have to be right or even heard sometimes. It's ok to be quite and know that I know.

    7. Interesting being a comedian and speaker myself sometimes I gotta crush folk with humor!!! And the truth sometimes sets folk free. Now when I have a violent heckler or strong verbal opponent who has good info I will surrender and make them my friend. A few times I have had to stop some folk in there tracks with truth cause ignorance sometimes just can't run rampant.

    8. Hi Randy,

      Right with you on this - I found out quite a while ago that my need to be right was my un-doing, it mean`t that I couldn`t actually learn anything because I was so attached to being `right` that it closed me off to new knowledge. I wasn`t able to listen either because I was so intent on my `rightness`, which I had seen as a `truth`,that I didn`t see that I was living in the darkness of
      ignorance.
      I was a student of philosophy where you win a debate by proving your point, but as Anthony mentioned a debate could often be translated as `argument`. But I was always a questioner so I did realise I was not learning anything except how to get `better` at arguing.
      A whole new world opened up once I could say to myself, `I don`t actually know` and began to question my assumptions. Scary place to be in as what I had built my world on began to fall apart,bwhich it needed to as I was ready to begin `growing up`, or I could say waking up from my delusions and false illusions.

    9. Really have to thank you Randy for your mentoring. Can't quite remember when it was, but sometime ago, I was in a conversation with someone and I realised the discussion was moving into the direction of "justification" and it hit me. That "defining moment". When you realise the person you are talking to is just on a whole other wave length. You realise you actually have moved to a different level of consciousness. And the only person who really knows or needs to know the difference, is yourself.

    10. It is sometimes important for yourself to be right about something.You could have been treated in a way and want your justice, only for yourself.To be able to release it,simply.I struggled a lot with a person for many years who, still today,gives me the feeling she doesn´t wish me any luck.My questions cannot go away about this person;Why did I learn to know her.Why is she in a position I cannot just let go.Why is she always poisoning my soul,my mind,my life, and why do I let her?I always have a feeling I have no choice.Last time we met she said Why is it so important to you to be right?Still I don´t see it in that way.She just say that to provoke me,because she can read my mind and knows what affects me.But it is true, though.As if I were in an invisible courtroom,where I must be right.I dreamt about her and all other people close to us,where I said something to her and her reaction revealed that she was bad and had always been bad to me.Which actually never happens in the reality.She puts everything and everybody against me in a way impossible to get out of.And she never recognize it as wrong,letting me go with that empty feeling of sorrow and betrayal.I do not have much contact with her today even if she is close family,but I have forgiven her.After that I had that dream and maybe that was my releasing,because I was "right".

        1. Fun.And it is exactly what does not work,but i have given up.But what did that have to do with letting go of negative people anyway?It was more like Let them stay and be happy!

    11. i was thinking about this the other day when someone asked me for the reason why I went to India to an ashram and decided to take the teachings of Babaji as my new spiritual path.

      I was sharing my story with her because i though she was truly interested in my experience was.

      Turns out every single thing I shared with her was rebutted with quotes from the bible and diminishing the value of my experience. She needed to be right about her faith and felt the need to defend it (although I wasn't sharing to enroll her into my ideas but just simply sharing.)

      She is just a mirror of what I don't like about myself... and I realize how many times I just want to be right and don't really care about what the other person is saying or respecting their feelings.

      So I am giving up the need to be right and I am willing to see things differently.

      Thanks for your post!

      Love,

      Gabs

    12. Hi Randy,

      I am doing well in this department.

      I rarely if ever engage in negative talk because I release the need to be right, or more importantly, the need to defend or prove myself. State your viewpoint and exit stage left.

      When I debate I keep it short and sweet; why not release and network with millions of others who share your viewpoint?

      Thanks for sharing!

      RB

    13. Randy, thank you, and I read the previous post with great interest (ignoring all the flapdoodle w/Annie). My comments might have been more appropriate as part of that conversation. However, here we are…

      [If there are other “non-talkies” following this blog, I trust you will add your two-cents worth; believe me, your input is Important! Perhaps my thoughts on this dysfunction of our will help you; I know your thoughts could help me!]

      We've discussed this in my Master Mind group. I find it challenging to grasp why/how it is SO easy for “talkies” to talk (what are you thinking, that allows you to dominate the conversation???) The Talkies admit that my non-talking habit is equally mysterious. Let me elucidate the mystery: Yes, fear of offending might be part of it – but for me, it is also deeply about others being not-interested.

      I don’t have to get over “fear of offending.” I have to get over my belief that “people just aren’t interested.”
      Perhaps the point of my comments, as part of this Post about “talking too much/being right” is to add an emphasis about why it is so important for you Talkies to curb your tongues a little. Here’s what a non-talker is thinking, while you are going on and on and on and on…:
      “When will it be my turn? I wish s/he’d shut up, and/or maybe even ask me for my opinion. This person is a conversation hog. I’m not going to listen to him or her anymore…. I’m tuning out….etc.”
      You think I’m listening, but what I’m actually hearing is similar to the old Charlie Brown “adult talk”: blat-blat-blat….
      In short, here’s my appropriate comment for this Post: Right On, Randy!

    14. I read salon.com this morning.. and there was an article about the birthers and a guy who has done two years research on how the 9/11 conspirators have to believe in something... the guy said it's like a cult, their whole identity is wrapped up in it.. so when you challenge it, they flip out.. or you can disprove 99 out of 100 things. but they seize on the one that you can't and it's aha!!!
      Whoever said, "don't ever argue about religion, politics or sex was a very wise person...

    15. "When you gain wisdom you lose the desire to always be right". True words Randy, and I think I'm closing in on living that congruently. My biggest issue is that there are certain people close to me that push the right buttons and with them, yes, I do have to be right. Maybe it's because I know they throw out a lot of bs. I'm learning though that the best thing to do is ignore the bs, and also move past the need to be right with them.

    16. I know my stance before I even engage in a debate. I believe, as you mentioned, that the strongest aspect to having the "last word" is to listen completely to the opposing side...regardless of the outcome, I have found that a differing opinion or idea presents at least one aspect that I had not considered. I have learned more from my peers by relenting my "win" and listening to another side of the equation. Losing, though learning, is quite cathartic.

    17. Good place to share what my dear grandmother wrote in my autograph book as a child:

      An aged owl sat on the oak
      The more he saw the less he spoke
      The less he spoke the more he heard
      I wish more folk were like this bird

    18. We learn when we listen. I have a friend who is "always right". I don't even bother arguing/debating/discussing things with him anymore.

    19. Have you noticed that God gave us two ears that can't be closed and a mouth that can be closed?! "A closed mouth gathers no foot."

    20. Most of the time there is even no right or wrong. When acknowledge and accept another person's opinion, then wisdom kicks in. Be warned, you might even learn something, because you will be able to see things from a different angle, or in other words you'd be able to put yourself in another person's shoes.

      It was a long way for me to learn this being a single child.

      Thanks again Randy, great post as usual!

    21. Great question Randy. Oh always having the last word or as my partner calls it having to win is something i am improving on. This comes with higher self worth I believe
      Love your short inspiration posts
      Namaste
      Suzie

    22. Great point. Want to share a personal experience about. A few months after I married (my 3rd experience at that!) we were having dinner with a couple, very good friends of ours. They have been married for over two decades. So I asked, what's the secret? My friend Jose Elias said, "See Jose, in your marriage you have to take a decision. You can be happy or you can be right. You can't have both. Which would you take?" ... LOL ... Yes, I laughed. But he had a great point. After my 2 previous divorces and several failed relationships, I decided to hear him. I decided TO BE HAPPY!! With my wife, we are celebrating our 3rd year anniversary this month and will celebrate many more to come!! Thanks Jose Elias!! 🙂

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