It’s good to say “You’re right”

In a discussion on Mastodon, Jeff Grigg reminded me that in a disagreement with someone it’s valuable to find yourself saying “You’re right…”.

In that kind of situation it’s easy to keep putting across our points. But that often isn’t productive—we state our points, they state their points, we state more of ours, they state more of theirs, and so on. It’s the verbal equivalent of building higher and higher brick walls.

The aim should be to get the best outcome, and that means listening carefully to people, including what they might object to in our arguments.

It’s always valuable to recognise when they have good points, and say so. When we say “You’re right…” we can follow that with an “and” or a “but” or even a detailed explanation of why they’re right, using our own perspective and experience.

When Jeff said that, it reminded me that this is a phrase I use often. Sometimes I silently chastise myself (“You’re giving in!”) but really I know it leads to better outcomes.

Using this phrase has two benefits. First, it means we’re listening honestly and therefore seeking the best possible outcome—which may be different to what we originally intended. I’ve written previously about questioning our own motivation.

Second, it acknowledges the other person’s view and their status in having a legitimate point of view. As Ian Leslie says in his book “Conflicted”, about having constructive disagreements, we need to stop trying to be right.

Saying “You’re right” is a tangible signal that we aren’t simply trying to right, that we are questioning our motivation, and that we’re engaging constructively.

Finding the best outcome is more important than winning the argument, and this phrase is a useful step towards that.

Photo by Franco Dal Molin