Who Knew We Were in Violent Agreement?
How is it that two people can argue vehemently for their respective positions but not realize they are in full agreement?
The extreme need to be right prevents people from listening to what others are saying — even when they are in agreement. So they huff and puff oblivious to the fact that the other party already sees eye-to-eye.
Once their shared view comes to light, it is somewhat embarrassing to acknowledge the obvious truth that there was really no reason to debate the idea to begin with.
Parties who argue strongly against each other when they actually view the issue in the same way are said to be in violent agreement.
Disagreeing with those we actually agree with happens to everyone on occasion. We can all tune out what others are saying when we are focused on being right.
But a problem exists when a leader frequently finds themselves in violent agreement with multiple parties and on numerous occasions. This is a clear sign of more than stubbornness, inattentiveness, or a brilliant mind. It speaks to a much deeper insecurity that will eventually undermine the leader’s ability to succeed with others.
When the need to be right is the ultimate priority for a leader, they project an insecurity about who they are on the inside. To deal with their lack of self-confidence, they stake out a position of superiority that makes them feel better about themselves.
Being right becomes a narcotic, easing the self-doubt and uncertainty they won’t admit to. Unfortunately, this shows others the leader lacks the maturity to feel okay about not having the best answer.
Even when this all-knowing leader acknowledges that someone else is right, this insecurity drives them to prove they are “more right.” They soon have to have the last word on just about everything. The more they insist on being right or more right, the more their credibility tumbles in the eyes of those who witness it.
Consistently calling out violent agreement and laughing about it is a first step toward getting a leader to acknowledge they may have a problem with being right. Asking a leader why they are often so strong in their advocacy when others already agree can shake the tree of insight.
Pointing out a leader’s need to have the last word and to be more right isn’t comfortable, but it can help a deeply troubled leader overcome a debilitating problem. Convincing someone who needs to be right that they are sometimes wrong is never fun. But it is the essential work of those who care.