Being Kind Vs. Being Right in an Argument

A set of lettering cutouts reminding everyone that being kind is key.

Photo by Vie Studio

Being kind over being right doesn’t sound good in a world where individual pride is on the line. Let’s weigh in if kindness and having the ability to listen with an open mind and heart is better than passionately standing your ground on what you believe is right.

All of us are hurt at times emotionally and psychologically. All of us, at times, have been forced by people stronger than us to act, speak and/or think a certain way. Often when this happens, we say to ourselves never again. So when there is a disagreement, we jump right in rather than exercising kindness and taking a step back. This very relatable defense mechanism often comes into force when we feel our mindset will be tested. Be it an argument, a dire circumstance, or a person needing help. With the latter, there are instances where that someone is your enemy.

If you dislike that person, you’d naturally reject being kind to them. Well, why would you? They hurt you in ways only you would know. Even if it might be small to others, returning one’s animosity with kindness seems absurd. Self-kindness requires us to protect ourselves from hurt and harm, and we are allowed to act as we think is right.

Is there a way of being kind without giving in? When and how do we draw the line and apply being kind over being right?

Does being kind mean being the bigger person?

Regardless of the situation, in the face of an intense argument, we never want our wants, needs, and point of view to be ignored and other people to force their beliefs and opinions on us.

We must understand that being kind or the bigger person rarely means acting like a doormat. We all have the right to live, be safe, and be happy. If people are repeatedly hurting, harming, and disrespecting us, we are called to do whatever we can to remove ourselves from danger. In any relationships in which we feel threatened, we have the right to try to find a way to move ourselves to safety. We are not required to view arguments and disagreements like a zero-sum game where one side inevitably wins and the other loses. It is always best to find a way to be kind, understand both sides’ unmet needs, and find a way of resolving differences and tensions. Sometimes this is not possible at the moment, and we may need to walk away.

Kindness requires constant effort. 

Contrary to popular belief, always giving in to keep the peace is draining. Kindness starts with ourselves.

We start by being gentle, kind, and friendly with ourselves. We are emotional beings, and many of us are never taught how to express our feelings and ask for help when we need it. Many of us are only taught to be kind to other people and to avoid conflict. This means that we try to get along; we try not to argue to keep the peace. However, inside, we are increasingly angry, and then we suddenly erupt.

This can be very confusing for those close to us. Most of the time, we are super agreeable, kind, and helpful, and then wham bang, we explode. Kindness requires that we are authentic, and this can be very hard.

This is when humor and tact come in.

Over time being authentically kind is very good for our health.

See David Hamilton’s talk

Will rightfulness make us happy over being kind?

It’s easy to get blindsided when a dark cloud hovers over the person we are arguing with and us. Whether it’s one person or both sides being self-absorbed, staying focused on our actual wants and needs may help us see things from a better perspective. Coming up with a better snarky remark is so tempting. However, sometimes we can hurt other people, including those we truly love, when we do this.

When we always want to win an argument, we focus on the argument and what we want to say instead of actively listening to the person we are arguing with and hearing their genuine wants and needs.

Changing to become less reactive and more focused on healing relationships is sometimes not accepted

by certain individuals, families, and communities.

There are times when we may need to take a break from a demanding relationship. Ideally, healing and better communication will happen when people decide to practice learning non-violent communication together.

A course on compassion by Dr. Frances Scully

Compassion is the only way to resolve a heated argument that is hard to settle and the most challenging road to take. Keeping calm amid the storm takes a lot of kindness, which can sometimes be draining. That’s why the very talented staff at the center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education developed the compassion Cultivation Training Program which teaches Compassion Interconnection through a set of meditation practices and exercises that stemmed from extensive research and development.

Dr. Scully aims to nurture a compassionate community as one of many CCT teachers teaching the Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) program. This is why she founded Be Compassionate NL. Being kind in a world full of intense smoke is the goal of this training. She also hosts Christian Meditation as taught by the late Father John Main, founder of the World Community of Christian Meditation. Participants join a free one-hour session via Zoom. People from all walks of life and faith are welcome to join these sessions.

One Response

  1. Dr. Scully,

    On July 18, 2022, in, you wrote a comment in response to a post by Perry Marshall about a comment Richard Dawkins made about the origin of life. After making statements such as “I am a Christian and I believe in the critical importance of compassion and kindness”, you ended by saying, “To be fair to Richard Dawkins I feel he does try to argue for more altruistic behaviours despite our selfish genes. So for me, he is far less of a threat than extreme right-wing pundits who argue against any possibility of a Common Good.”

    I have never heard anyone, whether on the extreme right or extreme left or anywhere in between argue against any possibility of a “Common Good”. So in the interest of trying to understand what you’re talking about, I would greatly appreciate it if you could explain to me what you mean by the “Common Good”, who are the “extreme right wing pundits” (not a kind or compassionate way to describe fellow human beings, by the way) and examples of their arguments against common good. And how are those opinions a threat to others?

    I’m not trying to debate with you, I’m just really curious how in the same comment, you can claim to be kind and compassionate enough to be positioned to teach others to be kind and compassionate and then provide what appears to me to be evidence that you are not kind and compassionate towards people whom you disagree with. As Christians, shouldn’t we love our enemies (Luke 6:27)? Calling someone an extremist is degrading and is an attempt to position their views as having little or no value to the community. At least you didn’t name anyone, but that is little comfort because you effectively painted anyone who may disagree with you on the vague concept of common good as an extremist. If you really want to see more kindness and compassion, you should be speaking strongly against using such language. I’m so sick of the state of our public discourse. It is corrosive to civility and is leading to a new age of fascism in which dissenters of the government ordained truth face social, economic and even legal consequences. It is a perversion of equal justice under the law and tramples human rights under the iron boot of the state. It assumes the infallibility of the majority opinion when in fact, the majority opinion can all too easily be manipulated by the carefully cultivated media elite. And in Canada, the media is further compromised by the siren song of the huge cash payments they get from the government.

    We should welcome the voices of the dissenters because they are the ones we need to be heard if we want to continue to live in some sort of free society. Or in the words of J. S. Mill —
    “The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.”

    So degrading other voices is an attempt to remove them from public discourse and that not only harms them, but potentially the whole of society.

    Kind regards,

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