I don’t get the chance to watch Dr. Phil very often, but a while back I happened to catch part of one of his shows. As he does so often, he was trying to help a couple understand why they fight so much. In this case it was because one of the spouses (I forget if it was the husband or wife) was what he calls a “right fighter.”
What a Right Fighter Is
Right fighters only care about being right. Whatever the argument is, as long as they’re right (or think they’re right), they’ll keep the argument going until the other person concedes they’re right.
At some point the topic of the argument is lost. All that matters is that their point of view is accepted as the right one. In the end, that’s what they end up fighting for more than anything else.
Difficulties Dealing with Right Fighters
If you’ve ever been around a right fighter, it’s very hard to win an argument with them. Not only do they have to be right, they almost always are. (In their eyes. They rarely admit to being wrong.)
So no matter what you’re fighting about, eventually the argument shifts away from the argument at hand and morphs into whether they can convince you their position is the right one.
As you might imagine, that’s very frustrating. It’s easy to get sidetracked yourself into arguing why they’re wrong.
Handle with Care
The easiest way to diffuse a right fighter is to simply agree with them.
“You’re right, honey. You win.”
Harmony’s instantly restored.
Obviously, that’s not possible to do every time. So what do you do when rolling over isn’t an option?
Step back. Ask yourself if you’re not the one being a right fighter. If not, examine what you’re even fighting about. Is it still the original argument? Or has your partner gone off on a right fighting crusade? If it’s the latter, point that out. Steer the conversation back to the topic at hand.
Expressions than can be helpful are: “I hear what you’re saying, but it’s not about that. We were discussing this.” Or, “You are right about X, but we’re talking about Z. Let’s deal with that first.”
Good luck and happy fighting!