By Robert A. Rohm Ph.D.
Personality Insights, Inc.
I don’t watch much television; I simply do not have the time. However, when I do have the opportunity, one of my favorite programs is Judge Judy. I like her show because to me, she is a woman with a lot of “horse sense.” If you have ever watched the show, she is not only entertaining, she is also very smart. She has the ability to see who is being responsible and who is not in almost every situation. Her judicial decisions always seem to favor the person who is being the most responsible and honest.
Not long ago, someone butted in on her as she was speaking. Right in the middle of what she was saying, they interrupted her with their own opinion. Judge Judy pointed her finger at the person and said, “You need to remember that in this courtroom, I’m the boss, Applesauce!” Everyone laughed, including the bailiff. As I said earlier, she mixes good humor with her wisdom in deciding cases.
By the way, most of the cases Judge Judy tries are ridiculous and silly in nature. However, people are willing to go to court over some of the most ridiculous and silly issues! To me, that is the sad part of the show. And, in case you do not think that these situations happen in real life, you should spend some time with me or travel with me and observe some of the things I have seen. It would certainly be an eye-opening experience! Let me tell you about one such incident.
Last year I was on a non-stop flight back to Atlanta from Japan. It was a long flight and everyone had settled down to enjoy the trip as much as possible. To my left, I noticed a gentleman sitting by the window. It was still light out and he had the window shade up so that he could read by natural light. Since he was sitting by the window, that was his prerogative. However, the flight attendant had asked that the window shades be lowered to provide darkness for those watching movies and for those who wanted to sleep. She suggested that anyone who preferred to read or work could turn on their overhead lights.
Well, the gentleman sitting by the window apparently didn’t like that idea because he did not comply with the flight attendant’s request. A few seats away, in the middle seating section, I noticed that a man motioned for the first gentleman to please lower his shade because he could not see the movie. His request was ignored. After a while, the second gentleman tried to get his attention again and was motioning for him to shut his window shade. He kept moving his hand up and down, demonstrating what he was asking him to do. Again he was ignored.
After a few moments, the gentleman in the middle section put a piece of paper in his mouth and chewed it up. Yes, he was creating a spit ball! I could hardly believe what I was watching! The gentleman in the middle section threw the spit ball at the man sitting beside the window and again motioned for him to lower his window shade. As you can imagine, that infuriated the man by the window and he started talking back to the man in the middle section, demanding to be left alone. Well, their conversation began to escalate and before long the flight attendant had to reprimand them and asked that they stop misbehaving. Again, let me remind you that these were not two children having a quarrel; these were two grown businessmen!
After the flight attendant calmed the situation and walked away, the man in the middle seating section made another spit ball and again threw it at the other man! Those of us nearby who were watching this drama were getting a little bit nervous. We thought a fight might break out at any moment. Once again the flight attendant had to come and talk to the two men, but she got nowhere with them. So, her next resort was to ask the captain of the airplane to talk to both of them. They were very uncooperative and each was sure that they were right. Each one wanted to be the boss.
When we finally landed in Atlanta and before any of us were allowed to leave the plane, the Atlanta police came aboard to escort the two men off. The last thing I saw as we were leaving the gate area was the police filling out a report on the altercation with the two “individuals” in custody. To call them “men” would be incorrect; they were behaving like grown little boys!
As I thought about it later, I realized that the root of the problem was that both of these men wanted to be right. Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be right; I believe everyone should strive to be right in everything that they do. However, they took it a step too far; they each had to be right! There is a big difference between wanting to be right and having to be right. It has been my experience that the people who have to be right are never happy. They live with the mindset that if they don’t get their way, they are going to “take their ball and go home!” It was a sad situation. Although humorous, it was very immature and inappropriate at its core.
If you are a judge in a courtroom, then you have the right to be the boss. If you own your own company, I suppose it is okay for you to have the final word. However, I have noticed in my own life that if I ever develop the attitude that I have to be right, I end up being wrong – and not very happy.
This week, take a closer look; do you want to be right or do you have to be right? The difference in those two may determine whether or not you throw a spit ball at another person and end up talking to the police. I hope that will not be the case!
Robert A. Rohm Ph.D.
Personality Insights, Inc.
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