Rarely Say Always, and Sometimes Never

The desire to know, or to be right, is a feature of the human condition.

Sometimes this drives us to learn, to create, and to make progress. Other times it causes the very things we don’t want; unproductive meetings, disagreements that escalate into conflict, relationship breakdowns, even road-rage perhaps.

Consider a time when someone resisted any attempt at reason. They argued or stood their ground despite any evidence of another, potentially better way. This may have had serious consequences like preventing a worthwhile project going ahead, or just left feelings of frustration.

It’s a good bet the words “never” or “always” appeared in their argument. They’re the go-to words of conflict and resistance and they appear more often when we’re frustrated, angry or under stress.

However, these two words aren’t often accurate in our complex, changing world. We resort to them to make sense of it, which can be useful, but they can also encourage a closed mind. One where the attention is captured by the need to be right and not open to what might be right.

A healthy desire to know is expressed through curiosity, a spirit of enquiry and the language of possibility. The need to be right is more limiting. It expresses itself through words like never and always.

So use these two words sparingly, if at all, and notice if you’re succumbing to the need to be right. The words always and never are pretty good indicators, and loosening their grip opens us to possibility and growth.

Surely that’s a better use of our attention.