Some People Defend Themselves Despite Seeming To Be ‘Obviously’ Wrong. Why?

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Often people defend themselves despite seeming to us to be clearly wrong.

This makes us feel both angry as well as perplexed.

Here is such an incident that I witnessed personally:

I was coming back from a grocery shop one morning.

In the parking area, one car was parked totally wrongly. It was parked such that it totally obstructed another car.

Then, the obstructed car’s owner (let us call him Ted) came back. He saw his car obstructed, and immediately got irritated.

Then, in a few minutes, the obstructing car’s owner (let us call him Ting) also returned.

These 2 guys started arguing. Below I capture an edited part of their conversation:

Ted: Don’t you have any sense? Why did you park your car like this?

Ting: Come on it is not such a big deal. Just go off!

Ted: It is not a big deal??

Ting: Don’t you park your car like that sometimes?

Ted: First you made a mistake, and then you put the blame on me. Are you crazy? 

Ting: How dare you speak to me like this?

Ted: How dare you park your car wrongly and talk to me in that manner?

Ting: You go off! 

Ted: You f*** off!

I was a bit taken aback: Why would Ting defend himself like that, when he is so wrong?

To me Ted, albeit he was harsh in his tone, seemed right in his point.

I wondered: “Why Some People Defend Themselves Despite Being ‘Clearly’ Wrong?”

I got the glimpse of an answer after reading the book: Difficult Conversations. I then built further on my understanding a bit, and I think now I have an answer to the question posed in the title of this post.

People behave in such a manner because of their unique ‘Context’. And, since their context is unknown to us, we consider their behavior to be unfair.

Let me elaborate.

I reproduce below the conversation, but this time I add the context (in {} parentheses) that each person has at the back of his mind.

Ted: Don’t you have any sense? Why did you park your car like this?

Ting: Come on it is not such a big deal. Just go off!

{I just went to the nearby shop for 5 min. I did not realize that the owner of the obstructed car would be back as soon as I left! Also, I was so conscious of the obstructed car’s owner returning that I kept on coming out of the shop and checking. This got me delayed by 2-3 min. After all I came just to buy milk. But, since I kept on coming out of the shop and there was a queue of milk buyers in the shop and my number got pushed back! Also, since I kept on coming back, it was due to this only that I was able to spot the obstructed car’s owner as soon as he returned. Why is this guy shouting on me. I don’t deserve such bad treatment!}

Ted: It is not a big deal??

{In India people first make mistakes and then they shout to defend it. I faced a similar situation last week too. That guy was so arrogant and almost behaved like a goon. He shouted back on me and intimidated me. This time, I will give it back. I can give it back this time for sure. Also because this guy does not seem like a goon..}

Ting: Don’t you park your car like that sometimes?

{I have myself faced such problems earlier. People often do such things to me. In such a crowded place, there is no other place to park the car. Also, I am sure this guy would be parking his car wrong too. Why is then shouting on me as if he is most righteous person on this planet?}

Ted: First you made a mistake, and then you put the blame on me. Are you crazy? 

{I am not going to loose this time! Last time that goon over-powered me. This time this thin guy is challenging my identity. How dare he?}

Ting: How dare you speak to me like this?

{He keeps on shouting. I need to push back now…}

Ted: How dare you park your car wrongly and talk to me in that manner?

{He keeps on shouting. I need to push back now…}

Ting: You go off! 

{Better to ignore him. He seems incorrigible. @#$%#@. I will go my own way and forget about this sick person and incident.}

Ted: You f*** off!!

{Better to ignore him. He seems incorrigible. @#$%#@. I will go my own way and forget about this sick person and incident..}

Therefore, as you can see above, both Ted and Ting are operating within their own unique contexts.

It is each person’s unique ‘context’ that drives his behavior.

Now, since Ting’s context remains unknown to Ted, Ting’s behavior seems totally wrong wrong to Ted.

Same is the case with Ting: Ted’s context is unknown to Ting, so Ted’s behavior seems totally wrong wrong to Ting.

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Context is King!

Do think about it…

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