Adulting: When Someone Decides to "Correct" You...
I find it fascinating when people correct my grammar – especially in response to what I say verbally. I remember someone asking me how I was doing, and I replied, “I am doing good.”
He corrected me: “Don’t you mean to say, ‘I am doing well’?”
Yes, I know he was right. I have spent years studying grammar for my university classes. Even for fun, I still like to have my nose in a grammar book. (I find language and its changing rules so darn interesting.) And while I acknowledge the standards and realize there are a time and place for them, I may choose to just parrot what others commonly say and join in with the “rule breakers” because I realize that “correct” language usage is not the most important part of my life. Especially in my everyday texts, emails, and conversations, I’ve tried to never take my grammar too seriously. There’s a colloquial element that I find charming.
So, what is my point? Tis this: when people think it’s important to call us out for something minor, what should our healthy response be? (And one that doesn’t involve dumping a glass of tea over their head?)
Honestly, I’m still mulling it over, but I wanted to share what has helped me.
Let’s say a person has just adamantly told me I’m wrong and that Brad Pitt is NOT the main character of the movie I’m describing. I like to first hold a quick conversation in my heart and mind: is it truly important that I counter-correct? Or at least make that person understand where I am coming from?
Not always. Sometimes I just keep my mouth shut and let their correction go unchallenged. Because we obviously don’t agree when it comes to the topic, and when a disagreement is not life threatening, I may avoid engaging them in return. I can (pardon my cliché) agree to disagree and not have a lengthy discussion about it.
But what if a disagreement is relationship threatening? I find it helpful to ask myself if someone’s correction, right or wrong, is something I want to continually deal with. And most importantly, I try to discern what is at the heart of it. If the person is not abusive, but genuinely loving and caring, their corrections, even if incorrect, typically don’t bother me. Because I know that they mean no injury. It’s when I suspect even just an ounce of harm, my guard goes up, and my (metaphorical) foot goes down. And that means the friendship may be worth stepping away from, or at the very least, putting up some boundaries.
I then proceed in the relationship with caution.
Again, for me, I’m not just focused on the person’s judgment being right or wrong. It’s the intention that appears along with it. Because I know I’ve wrongly corrected others. It’s one of the joys of being human. But another one of the joys of being human? Being able to wisely question (even just mentally) others’ actions, and then letting a healthy, careful answer be the foundation of our response.
Whether we are right or wrong, we always have that power.