Most of us want to be right, but there are some people who need to be right.
This forceful drive means they’re more concerned with coming out on top than they are with finding common ground or cultivating healthy and happy relationships.
But as well as being a total pain in the ass, it’s a toxic trait that will only hold them back in the long run.
This article will explore some key signs you’re dealing with someone who has an intense desire to always be right.
1) They make things personal
If it looks like they’re on the back foot in a debate, they will willingly hurl insults or make digs at you.
Rather than stick to the facts at hand they’re perfectly happy to make things personal.
They could resort to making accusations or name-calling.
Whatever you’re discussing, they’ll go completely off course and try to turn things into a personal attack on you.
If they cannot win fair and square, they have no problem in playing dirty.
Take it as a sign they’ve been triggered.
2) They sulk after a disagreement
If they ever feel like they’ve lost an argument, they want to punish you for it.
They may well turn to passive-aggressive techniques to do this.
So you could be given the cold shoulder until they manage to cool off and get over it.
They’re unlikely to admit how they feel, but you notice that they’re being frosty with you.
They could do a bit of a disappearing act or only give you one-word answers when you try to talk to them.
Stonewalling is a classic manipulation technique to show someone’s disapproval.
It’s a way of teaching you a lesson and a warning of what you can expect if you dare to disagree again.
3) They won’t let it drop
Nothing is ever truly done and dusted with them.
It can feel like they recycle the same argument over and over again.
It’s like you’re caught in an endless loop and you can’t move on.
They are willing to go round and round in circles until they emerge the victor.
If they can’t get you to back down the first time around, they will attempt to wear you down through repetition.
4) They have no interest in reaching a solution or compromise
Being right matters more than finding a resolution.
This is when you see their competitive nature shining through.
For the sake of cooperation and cultivating successful relationships, at the forefront of every disagreement should be a desire to find a solution.
But that’s not the case for them.
They treat conversations as a contest to win. You most likely sense them striving to establish superiority and get the upper hand.
They feel the need to one-up you intellectually.
This becomes the sole drive, rather than finding compromises where both people feel heard and valued.
5) They escalate slight disagreements into full-blown arguments
They’re always raising the stakes (along with their voice).
When we know we’re dealing with someone who is going to blow a fuse, it can be really tempting to just give in to their will.
I have a relative who is like this.
Everyone in the family knows it isn’t worth getting into things with him, as he’ll only keep blowing it out of proportion until it becomes a full-scale war.
Whether we are right or wrong for doing so, we prefer to let him live in his own little delusional world for the sake of keeping the peace.
The truth is he is unlikely to ever see anyone else’s point of view.
6) They don’t listen to (or care about) your side of things
Effective listening is about far more than just keeping quiet. Although people who need to be right often struggle to even do that.
It’s about creating space for someone else to be really heard.
The problem is that they have zero interest in understanding (much like my relative in the example above).
So they refuse to listen to any evidence that contradicts their point of view.
In doing so, they show a complete lack of empathy.
They make no attempt to understand others’ experiences. They fail to consider how their words impact others.
It’s another huge red flag that they’re more bothered about being right than maintaining relationships.
7) They refuse to apologize even when they’re in the wrong
Perhaps you know someone who:
- Rarely admitts when they are wrong
- Shifts blame onto others
- Makes excuses rather than takes responsibility
This inability to say sorry also comes about when someone is clinging to being right.
Their self-esteem cannot take the hit, so they cannot bear to back down.
Sometimes they may know deep down they’re in the wrong but want to save face.
Other times, they may be so lost in denial, that they cannot even admit it to themselves.
Instead, they dig their heels in and attack because they see it as the best form of defense.
Which leads me nicely to our next point.
8) They are instantly defensive if you ever disagree
If you dare to question them, even over the slightest thing, you feel the vibe change instantly.
Their whole demeanor shifts into one of defensiveness.
- Get moody and snappy with you
- Deflect back onto you (making accusations or criticizing)
- Try to justify themselves or make excuses
- Bring up the past or things that are totally off-topic
- Tell you that you’re wrong for feeling a certain way
They clearly hate to be confronted and don’t handle it well at all.
9) They’re willing to twist the facts or outright lie
When the facts don’t suit them, they change them.
The truth is a malleable resource rather than something that is set in stone.
They may be skilled manipulators who employ gaslighting to try to convince you that you’re wrong and they’re right.
They could deny things they have said and done or try to twist things you’ve said or done.
Sadly, they don’t mind messing with your mental health if it means they come out on top.
10) They always interrupt you when you’re talking
Whenever things turn heated and a discussion starts to spiral into an argument, polite rules of conversation often go out of the window.
That means we may talk over each other or interject.
But for someone who has a toxic need to be right, this is commonplace behavior.
They interrupt you frequently.
It all points to a pattern:
One where they feel the need to try to control the conversation.
They will steer it in the direction they want it to go.
That usually means ignoring or dismissing others’ perspectives along the way and using tactics like talking louder to assert dominance.
11) They show contempt through sarcasm or dismissive facial expressions
It could be an obvious roll of the eyes when you’re trying to talk.
It may be a sneer or a smirk.
Whatever the gesture, it lets you know they don’t respect what you have to say.
It gives off this air of superiority that tries to make you feel small and belittled.
The same goes for the use of sarcasm.
Humor is another passive-aggressive tool that is often used to dismiss someone and invalidate whatever they have to say.
12) They have a habit of constantly correcting people
Aka smug alert!
We can let some things slide. We don’t need to point out every slight mistake that someone makes. Yet they don’t seem to realize this.
The world won’t cease to turn unless you point out that grammatical error someone made on their Facebook post.
Rather than letting countless inconsequential things slide, they feel compelled to highlight them to you.
- Correcting minor details in conversations
- Nitpicking grammar, pronunciation, or facts
- Generally seeking out opportunities to prove others wrong
When someone can’t seem to help themselves, it’s usually got nothing to do with upholding standards. It’s got everything to do with ego.
You being wrong, and them being able to prove it, makes them feel better about themselves.
13) They never change their mind once it’s made up
It’s a real shame, as it shows they aren’t prepared to learn or grow.
Sometimes we get things wrong.
We make instant snap decisions that later we realize weren’t accurate. Being able to recognize this is really important to our evolution as people.
If pride gets in the way, we can be tempted to stubbornly stick to certain choices or opinions.
It comes from being too attached to your ideas, opinions, and beliefs.
People who can’t be wrong have wrapped their whole identity around these things.
So it’s not just their thoughts on something that feels at risk, it’s their entire sense of self.
That’s why they:
- Crave constant approval and affirmation
- Seek validation by being right
- Feel threatened by differing opinions and can’t concede they may be mistaken
Final thoughts: Don’t be tempted to meet fire with fire
Spotting the signs that someone has an overwhelming need to be right can help us navigate challenging interactions with them.
Sometimes we need to remove ourselves. Toxic people don’t have a right to our time, energy, and attention.
But as frustrating as it can be, it’s also important to remember that everyone has different communication styles and motivations.
Try to see their desire to be right for what it really is — deep-rooted insecurity.
That way we can try to approach conversations with greater empathy and patience in the hope of encouraging more productive exchanges.
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