A right-fighter is someone who struggles to win arguments, even if they doubt their own view. A right-fighter is someone who gets overly emotional or angry when people do not agree with them and their opinions or beliefs. A right-fighter is someone who insists on having the last word in an argument or refuses to back down no matter what.—Dr. Shawn Byler, Ph.R.D. in Psychology*
As my online family grappled with a serious breakdown in communications recently, I was reminded of a term I heard on the Dr. Phil Show. Right-fighter.
Dr. Phil stopped a woman who was talking eloquently and endlessly about why she was right and her husband was wrong.
To the woman Dr. Phil said “Are you here to solve this problem or are you here to prove you are right?” It stopped her dead in her tracks.
Few of us enter into an argument, friendly or otherwise, thinking we want to be proven wrong. Quite the contrary. But what happens when person after person – people whose opinions you respect and whose characters you admire – weigh in on the opposite side of your premise?
Some will actually listen to what is being said, consider the fact that s/he seems to be standing alone and acknowledge that the other people involved in the discussion might have a point. In other words, the point of view of the opposing side is given value enough to consider.
The right-fighter takes on all comers, no matter how compelling the arguments to the contrary. That’s because the right-fighter has his or her value tied to the outcome of being right. To feel lovable and worthy, the right-fighter feels deeply he or she must be right.
Since the right-fighter is always going to be “right” a lot of other personal values are predictably lost in the shuffle. Having to be always right alienates the people around the right-fighter, creates feelings of not being heard and not being valued.
Right-Fighting is an acceptable form of violence or aggression. Because the right-fighting pattern usually ends up one sided and includes a winner and a loser, the effects are similar to those of physical abuse. Learned submission on the part of the children and often the other parent/spouse is inevitable. "Right-Fighting" is in fact a form of emotional abuse. A right-fighter parent is particularly harmful to children because the child is made to feel like the "loser" and that his or her opinions are
not valid or important. Right-fighting is a direct reflection of low self-esteem. And unfortunately the low self-esteem of one steals the development of strong self-esteem of others. -- Dr. Shawn Byler
In the statement above, Dr. Byler is discussing a woman who is a wife and mother. Similar outcomes, however, can be expected in the workplace if the person in authority uses her power to impose her rightness.
In situations where the right-fighter is on equal footing with those s/he tussles with, the likely outcome, over time, is for others to refuse to even enter a discussion – why bother? – or for people to give the right-fighter a wide berth. Animosity and bad feelings set in, because the other people may not have their personal needs met; i.e., the need to be recognized as having an opinion worth considering.
The number of right-fighters on the internet seems to me to be extremely high. Dr. Byler calls it a habit, a behavior that can be and should be modified if the person wants to live a happier life.
This habit is also observable in political circles and certainly in our government. Adhering to one and only one ideology, at all costs – cogent arguments to the contrary be damned – leads nowhere, as we are learning during this Presidential election cycle. Opposing sides resort to all sorts of dishonorable behaviors in order to appear to be right. Deliberate lies. Underhanded innuendo. And absolute refusal to EVER concede a point.
All it takes is a few little words that say “I hear you and I understand what you are saying.” That doesn’t mean concession. It means openness.
*Dr. Byler’s Degrees and Certifications:
Ph.R.D. in Psychology and a Masters degree in Psychological Therapy and Counseling from Logos University, along with minors in both Communication and Organizational Leadership and Supervision from Indiana University. She is also Shawn is a certified diplomat of the National Institute of Sports Division. She’s a GCCA member and former WBE member. Shawn is also a certified Temperament Therapist and a certified FIRO-B administrator.