Friday, July 3, 2009

A Personality Flaw

I know, I know... You're all saying, "which one?" Yes, I have quite a few character flaws. However, this one recently came up, so that's what I'm going to write about.

Quite some time ago, I was talking to someone, and she commented that I liked to be right all the time. I responded, "doesn't everybody? Who wants to be wrong?"

She didn't even hesitate when she said, "But I feel like you just NEED to be right." I thought about it for a little bit, and realized that she was 100% correct. I have this overwhelming desire to be right about everything.

Now, that doesn't mean that I'm someone who thinks he's always right. There is a subtle but important difference between thinking you're always right and constantly wanting to be right. People who think they're always right don't listen or take into consideration what other people say. All they know is that they're right, everyone else is wrong, and they don't want to hear anything else.

I don't think I'm always right, and I certainly don't always think everyone else is wrong. However, I have this incredible desire to be right. Actually, it might be more appropriate to say that I have this need to know what is right. For example, if I'm talking to someone about a drug, and the other person thinks a drug works by one mechanism of action, while I think it has a different mechanism, I will stop whatever I'm doing to look up the answer and find out for sure whether I'm right or wrong.

I hate being wrong. In fact, I hate being wrong so much that I will pretty much never talk about a subject in which I'm not well versed. I will sit quietly for hours listening to other people talk until the conversation turns to a subject that I know well. Only then will I contribute.

However, if I do say something, and you happen to disagree with me, you better have a good argument or evidence to support your claim. I like to argue, and I will defend my position with every bit of logic and evidence I can come up with. Note, that I do not dismiss other people's thoughts or opinions, but I will make people defend them. If you make a comment or observation about something around me, I will question it, especially if it's something I don't agree with. If you choose not to defend your opinion or fail to come up with a logical or fact based argument in favor of it, I will dismiss it. However, if you push back at me as much as I push you to defend your opinion, I'll more than give you the proper credit. Moreover, I'll probably incorporate your thoughts into my own beliefs.

I don't really consider myself a strong person, but I believe I hold strong opinions about things. I also believe that most of the time, when I choose to say something, I'm usually right. Some people have told me that I can come across as arrogant and lacking modesty. A coworker once told me that it's like I know that I'm smarter than everyone else there, and I do nothing to make people think otherwise.

I can see how his would be annoying to people. However, I don't believe I'm arrogant at all. I'm also one of the most modest people you'll ever meet. I deflect flattery of any kind like it's a deadly disease. I shy away from praise. You can't say anything remotely nice about me without my face turning bright red in embarrassment. However, there's no such thing as modesty when it comes to being right or wrong. If someone says something that I know to be in error, I will correct it. I'm not going to just sit back and let people spread false information and uninformed opinions, especially on things that really matter.

Somewhere in all this rambling is an actual point. I'm not even sure I know what it is anymore. I guess what I'm basically trying to say is that a have a personality flaw where I feel like I always need to be right, and if I feel strongly enough about what I'm talking about (whether it be a clear-cut fact or a well thought out opinion), I will defend it. Therefore, in order to get along well with me, you have to be strong in your opinions and not afraid to argue with me to defend yourself.

In fact, when I was using eHarmony, I listed that as the most important characteristic for a girl to have. I tend to find myself attracted to girls who challenge what I say and aren't afraid to tell me when I'm being stupid (which is quite often). I'm one of the only people on this earth that doesn't want to be drowned in flattery. I don't want a girl that tells me how great I am. I want someone that can point out all my little flaws because then I know that she's really paying attention to me. Moreover, only through realizing my deficiencies will I be able to improve upon myself. Anyone who can make me realize something about myself that I don't already know is someone worthy of my admiration.

I have no idea how I ended up talking about what I desire in a woman. This post is a shining example of how stupid I can be.


Anonymous said...

That's quite an analysis of a character 'flaw'.

How about thinking of it as a way to build your information base? In my younger days, I liked to build a line of reasoning from things that I personally knew to be 'true' i.e. logically derived ideas I'd studied, and therefore there didn't seem to be much to have to think about in class when presented with a question about why such and such or how come this and that. (It almost seemed as if there was a purposeful development of deductive intuition, which made for a rather boring persona.) We had lively discussions in college classes in the more advanced curriculum. It was exciting at test time to guess whether my line of 'thinking' was similar to conclusions in lecture or textbooks. (Although, I think that 'C' in genetics had more to do with the class curve, than whether I had bothered to memorized specific definitions.)

Always challenging myself to 'believe' or 'what if', but then... I had kids, bright little challenging demons..., and it became a nightmare of trying to keep up with all the questions and the lines of rational thinking.

I know I don't care about always being 'right', but I do care that I present the correct information to my kids and patients and co-workers so that if they are looking to me as a reference, and I tell them if I don't know the answer to a question. Sometimes, I only get as far as coming up with the correct question to find the answer. I don't want to screw up a line of reasoning that some just might be developing to figure out the correct answer for themself.

Keep it up, Mike! There's not simply a sea of neurotransmitters and gelatinous grey matter floating around that cranium!

pharmacy chick said...

Mike, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be right. for a pharmacist, its probably a good thing not to think that being wrong is acceptable. However, if people tell you that you come across as arrogant, then your delivery may want to be checked. Nobody likes a know-it-all attitude. You can be right without making somebody look like a dope.
The art of negotiations is the ability to tell somebody to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. Same thing for telling somebody they are wrong..

Anonymous said...

Just one question, no insult intended, and you don't have to post this on your blog if you don't want to (I see you have moderation enabled).

Have you ever been evaluated for Asperger's syndrome?

This sounds so much like myself it's scary. I also hate being wrong, and if I find I have been wrong about something and inadvertently told someone misinformation, I will track that person down and give them the correction.

(from another aspie)

Pharmacy Mike said...

Never been evaluated, but I'm nearly 100% sure that I do not have this condition.

This blog sort of makes me sound like a head case (not that someone with Asperger's Syndrome is crazy), but I'm actually a lot more level headed in reality.

Most of the stuff I write about myself is negative and weird shit that's on my mind. In that way, I'd say that I'm not really being fair to myself on this blog.

That said... I don't really meet most of the criteria for Asperger's.

susan said...

You sound kind of schizoid, like me. Humans are a lot more complicated then what the DSM says we are. A lot of times it's hard to classify psychological disorders, because humans are so complex. However, I have schizoid tendencies. I'm not going to say I'm schizoid though. You might want to check up on it.
I don't consider people like us abnormal or anything..but it's almost like we kind of enjoy being a little unique from the rest of society (at least I do)

susan said...

Just to clarify my last post: I'm not saying you are schizoid at all. I don't like labeling people. However, I'm saying maybe you have some tendencies like me.

Ashley said...

I love how you said that you don't eagerly participate in conversations that you aren't completely familiar with. I don't feel like I HAVE to be right all the time, but I DO NOT offer any knowledge unless I know it to be 100% fact.

I enjoy your blog because you seem to be experiencing similar situations as me. Though I'm still in school, the social scene, relationships, all the expectations of people our age (I'm 26)...I'm enduring them, too.

And that supposed 'flaw', to me, is a form of confidence. Why bother having opinions or learning things without sharing and supporting? How boring would that be? I'd much rather be around a person that is confident in their intelligence than someone that refuses to choose a side of an argument, is wishy-washy, or a simple "yes man"
agreeing with whatever is being told at the time. Lame.

pinkstarx said...

I don't think you have any kind of mental problem at all! I'm like that too, I like to be right and I like a good debate. It sounds to me like you need a girl with a strong personality that won't just shut up and let you be right all the time. I like to be right all the time, but really, where's the fun in that? I need somebody that will tell me I'm wrong and put up a good argument.

Cheers to a guy with enough brains and balls to duke it out! :)

Anonymous said...

And you wonder why your single.
Social skills are a must and you seem to lack quite a lot of them.

Pharmacy Mike said...

Actually... I don't wonder why I'm single. I know quite well why I'm single.

In addition, I have social skills. In fact, I'm not half bad at socializing when I need to. Like I said before in a previous comment, I don't present myself fairly on this blog. I write what's on my mind at any given moment. I tend to think negatively of myself, and my writing gives off the impression that I spend my life wallowing in misery. Trust me, this is not the case.

If you met me in person, you'd have no idea I was the same one writing this blog. I appear very level headed and quite normal.